How do we end this wiggle room?


Hansard is the official report of parliamentary debates, which records the words from the people who speak in Parliament and I personally find it a very useful way of discovering what our representatives say and what sort of responses they get or not as the case may be. Along with Hansard there is a much more accessible website called They Work For You which allows us to record key words or the names of the people we want to read about. We then get emails every day that the words or the voices of the people have occurred. However the challenge of these two websites is that they reveal how inadequate some of the conversations or actions by the Government are. For example three years ago on 27th July 2017 Caroline Lucas who is my MP wrote a letter for information about an immigration case. After nearly a year’s delay in a response she asked a question in public on 3rd May 2018 and the verbal answer from Caroline Nokes who was a Minister at the time was “I apologise for the delay in responding to the Honourable Member. I will respond separately.” Another example is more recent case on a different theme and from a neighbouring MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle who last Wednesday asked the Prime Minister:

Our firefighters have been assisting in this covid crisis. They have taken 12 additional areas of work supporting our NHS, and while they are busier than ever, they are about to face another round of devastating cuts. My local fire authority in East Sussex is planning to remove 10 fire trucks from the county, with the loss of frontline firefighters. Is the Prime Minister planning to respond to the Fire Brigades Union letter sent to him on 22 May calling for a moratorium on cuts? Clapping on Thursdays is well and good, but will he put his money where his mouth is and ensure that no fire authority needs to cut frontline firefighters when they have been helping to save our country?

And the response which came from Boris Johnson was:

I will certainly respond to his letter.

Which was all he had to say. The fact is we whereas we can read the text of the verbal correspondence from our MPs and their colleagues in Parliament that understandably we may never see the text from all of their letters to the Government. However when an MP writes to the Prime Minister and has not had a response within a fortnight, that would seem rather concerning and certainly if there is no response from a Minister to an MP in 10 months there is definitely a major concern. As for the responses by Ministers or the Prime Minister that they will respond to the letters in due course is of course very little value unless they actually do so. In terms of the Fire Brigade question by Lloyd, all of us would be very keen to hear a response from the Government as it will have an impact on our lives.

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
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