30 Nov 2016: In the Honourable Cause of State Security Westminster Politicians Callously Exempted Themselves From Theresa May’s New Wide-Ranging Spying Laws.
The Investigatory Powers Act, brought to statute by Home Secretary, Mrs May, and a reactionary Tory government introduced the most extreme and invasive surveillance powers ever given to state employed network eavesdroppers sniffing for individuals private data.
The new law required that those using its powers must be given a warrant signed by any appropriate official but for members of parliament and all UK and MEP politicians, additional protection was provided by the introduction of rules requiring warrants to be personally approved by the Prime Minister.
Essential Reading: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/11/30/investigatory_powers_act_backdoors/
20 Jul 2018: Yet Again – Westminster MP’s Show Their Contempt for Public Opinion
MPs agreed to the introduction of a new draconian code of conduct for MPs, Peers, Parliamentary Staff and Civil Servants claiming it aspired to stamp out bullying and harassment.
But the new rules also ended the right of the Public and Press to be alerted to and name and shame MPs, Peers and Parliamentary Staff (including Civil Servants) accused of other offences such as fiddling expenses or conflicts of interest.
The new rules replace the previously introduced new rules just introduced in 2010 which replaced the existing ineffective rules that allowed for the mass defrauding of taxpayers by the previously mentioned group of individuals.
The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards has been neutered, to the detriment of the public and press and to the benefit of wrongdoers by the setting aside of the 2010 commitment of MP’s to the public to ensure a complete transparency of process, listing MPs, Peers, Parliamentary Staff and Civil Servants under inquiry and rulings
Within minutes of the vote in the Commons all information pertaining to separate investigations into two MPs – Labour MP Keith Vaz and Tory Robert Courts – was removed from the Commissioner’s website.
20 Jul 2018: The Tory Government Statement of Intent
Commons Leader Tory MP, Andrea Leadsom issued a statement proposing the change saying:
“We’re proposing that the Commissioners of both Houses will keep their investigations entirely confidential until such time as there is a finding. This is crucial if individuals are to place their trust in the new system. There is clearly a balance to be struck between the public interest in transparency and putting the complainant at the heart of the process by protecting their identity. That is absolutely vital.”
Sir Alistair Graham, former chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, told the press that it would “seriously undermine our democratic system” and that MPs are “using something relating to sexual misconduct to get rid of something MPs haven’t liked for a long time”.
Sir Kevin Barron, chairman of the Cross-Party Committee on Standards in Public Life argued that MPs should not have anonymity over accusations of fiddling expenses or conflicts of interest. and said the new code was “a step backwards”. He also produced a letter written to himself by lay members of his committee:
Dear Sir Kevin,
Confidentiality regarding matters not related to the Behaviour Code
We are writing to you in your position as Chair of the Committee on Standards.
As lay members we wish to express our support to the elected members of the Committee on Standards for the amendment being tabled to the House, regarding matters of confidentiality on investigations, conducted by the Parliamentary Commissioner on Standards, relating to the Code of Conduct.
Through our involvement in the work of the Committee we recognise the unusual, and sometimes precarious, nature of the role of MPs, the media interest they deal with on a daily basis and therefore, the importance MPs rightly place on their reputation.
We also recognise the importance of the reputation of the House and the impact the actions and behaviours of MPs can have on how this is viewed.
Our experience to date suggests that publication of an announcement that an investigation is taking place does not cause significant damage to an MP’s reputation and, on a number of occasions, the matter is already in the public domain through the media.
Therefore, in our view, the announcement can provide assurance that concerns are being handled independently and in a fair and impartial manner.
Our view is that the current practice followed by the Parliamentary Commissioner on Standards, and explicitly agreed by the House in 2010, creates the right balance between the individual reputation of MPs and the collective reputation of the House.
Any proposals to limit this approach would be a detrimental step in continuing to build the credibility of the reputation of the House.
The letter, written on behalf of UK citizens was ignored
Lay Members of the Committee on Standards: Tammy Banks, Jane Burgess, Charmaine Burton, Rita Dexter, Dr Arun Midha, Sir Peter Rubin, Paul Thorogood