When Hove MP, Peter Kyle raised his concern to Jacob Rees-Mogg about Dominic Cummings on the last day of Parliament, it was clearly a concern that many other MPs and indeed people outside of the House of Commons also have. The issue relating to Dominic is covered to a certain extent below, but the comment by Jacob shown here was in response to the question “I express my congratulations to the Leader of the House on the new job. He has said already today that he will be the voice of this Chamber and that he will hold the Government to account. Will he therefore tell us what he feels about the appointment by the new Prime Minister, as his closest adviser, of somebody who has been found in contempt of this House? What will he do to hold him to account for that decision, and what does he feel about it?”
It is of course very important for MPs, let alone Ministers to have views about the rehabilitation of offenders. However one would assume that speaking about such matters would appear from time to time in Hansard. Jacob has been an MP since 2010 and so he has had 9 years in which to discuss matters. Over that time he has mentioned prison 36 times and punishment 37 times and innocence 15 times but he has never commented on rehabilitation or for that matter deterrence or retribution. It may just be that he has not spoken so much as he will in the future but we can only hope that in his new role he will promoted rehabilitation for many more people than simply Dominic Cummings. To put this into context in the last year there have been 637 mentions in the House of Commons so an average of one reference per MP, per year. This makes Jacobs failure to refer to the word in previous years seem a bit concerning if he is committed to the issue.
Dominic is someone who has featured in our Parliament and in political campaigning in the past. He worked for Iain Duncan Smith in 2002 for nearly a year as his Director of Strategy before leaving after calling IDS as incompetent and he was also the special adviser to Michael Gove from 2010 to 2014. His role in 2004 was to run the campaign opposed to John Prescotts proposal for a devolved regional approach beginning in the North East. I confess that I was very interested in the campaign as I was a member of the South East England Regional Assembly (SEERA) and would have valued a positive response had the voters been more convinced. However Dominic was also heading up the Vote Leave campaign and it was this piece of work that led the “Leader of the House to bring forward motions on Thursday 7 June and Thursday 28 June 2018 to raise the activities of Dominic Cummings as a matter of privilege following his refusal to obey the DCMS Committee’s order to attend and his subsequent refusal to obey the House’s order of 7 June 2018”
All of these refusals led to a lengthy debate on 2nd April 2019 which endorsed the following:
That this House—
(i) approves the First Report from the Committee of Privileges (HC 1490);
(ii) endorses the conclusions of the Committee in respect of the conduct of Mr Dominic Cummings that the evidence sought by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee from Mr Cummings was relevant to its inquiry and that his refusal to attend constituted a significant interference with the work of that Committee;
concludes that Mr Cummings committed a contempt both by his refusal to obey the Committee’s order to attend it and by his subsequent refusal to obey the House’s Order of 7 June 2018;
and therefore formally admonishes him for his conduct.
It was this that acted as the basis for Peter’s question to Jacob whose response may well be credible as long as he begins to demonstrate his commitment to ensuring that offenders in society as a whole benefit from a rehabilitative approach rather than simply prosecuting and punishing them as has been the case over recent years.