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The Hansard trawl, featuring good news for wonks, the company the PM keeps and the wretched Olympics

Good news for Hansard wonks (that will be Dizzy and me then):

"Mr. Amess: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what steps the Commission (a) is taking and (b) plans to take over the next two years to provide greater electronic access for the public to parliamentary material; and if he will make a statement.

Nick Harvey: There are a number of strands of work under way as part of the parliamentary Web and Intranet Programme which will provide greater electronic access for the public to parliamentary material. These include changes to the format of information on the website so that it conforms to accessible data standards and can be accessed and reused by the public, as well as improvements to the presentation to make the information more user friendly and an improved search engine that will enable website visitors to find the information they are looking for quickly and easily".

The forthcoming recess is likely to induce intense blogger's block in these parts, so I am thinking of digging around in the deep archives for nuggets along the lines of Brown's maiden speech. Or does nobody give a good goddamn?

Lame answer o' the day:

Mr. Maude: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission pursuant to the answer of 23 April 2009, Official Report, column 841W, on trade unions, what steps the Commission takes to ensure that facilities given to trade unions are not used for political activity or political campaigning.

Nick Harvey: Political impartiality is a requirement for the majority of House of Commons employees. The Staff Handbook requires that staff seek permission from their manager before engaging in political activity and that if permission is granted, the activity must not be undertaken in circumstances where it could be reasonably be assumed that they were acting as a representative of the House of Commons. This restriction applies to employees who are accredited representatives or members of unions recognised by the House of Commons service when using facilities provided to them on the parliamentary estate.

The House of Commons service does not directly monitor the use of facilities made available to employees who are accredited representatives or members of recognised unions. If evidence of misuse of facilities is presented, it will be investigated.

And there was I thinking that self-regualtion was not the flavour du jour anymore.

E-mailing the PM:

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Birkenhead...on email, at what address members of the public are able to email him; on what date the account was set up; how often the account is checked; and what account he takes of the emails he receives from members of the public in his formulation of policy.

The Prime Minister: The present e-mail system went live in April 2009 and is available on the No. 10 website at https://email.number10.gov.uk/. E-mails are checked on a regular basis.

So that's once a year, when someone clicks delete all.

No attempt to deny it, I see:

Mr. Maude: To ask the Prime Minister when he last (a) met and (b) communicated with (i) Mr Derek Draper and (ii) Mr Charlie Whelan in the course of his official duties. [287352]

The Prime Minister: My officials and I have meetings with a wide range of organisations and individuals on a range of subjects.

Tricks ain't walking no more:

Mr. Steen: To ask the Minister for the Olympics if she will hold discussions with the Secretary of State for the Home Department on policy to minimise levels of prostitution associated with the number of tourists expected to attend the London 2012 Olympics

Tessa Jowell: (blah) We are currently seeing no evidence to suggest an increase in the sex industry or human trafficking in relation to the Games.

Oh come on - the idea that traffickers, mack daddies and freelance brasses would be carving up territory in Stratford three years in advance is beyond silly.

And Tessa 'I'd jump in front of a bus for Tony Blair' Jowell manages to top that for idiocy:
Mr. Hamilton: To ask the Minister for the Olympics what recent discussions she has had on the legacy for Scotland from the London 2012 Olympics.

Tessa Jowell: Construction of the Olympic Park venues and infrastructure is progressing well.

Building work is well under way on the five main Park venues: the Stadium, Aquatics Centre, Velodrome, the Athletes’ Village and the International Broadcast Centre/Main Press Centre, and is ahead of schedule in some cases. 39.2 per cent. of the Olympic Delivery Authority’s programme is now complete.

None of which are North of the Border. For all the relevance of the answer, she might just as well as declaimed some McGonagall.

And since it is my blog, herewith the first verse of my favourite McGonagall poem:

ALAS! Lord and Lady Dalhousie are dead, and buried at last,
Which causes many people to feel a little downcast;
And both lie side by side in one grave,
But I hope God in His goodness their souls will save.

Lots more McGonagall here. I do not advise attempting to read too many at one sitting. In the hope that a Tradedoubler astroturfer will turn up - cancel the wretched thing NOW - I would rather have the money than pay for underwater tiddlywinks, rhythmic gymnastics, running, jumping, standing on one's head etc that this monstrous waste of money will involve. Quite apart from the Zil lanes, the gumming up of public transport for the duration and TV schedules being cleared of anything bar the steroid damaged thanking their pharmacists, mothers, sponsors etc for hours on end. And if Hamilton is so keen on the legacy, he can feel free to lobby for the cost of this nonsense to be inflicted on the council tax payers of Midlothian.

Pity our compatriots in Ulster:

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many times the Army Bomb Disposal Squad has been deployed against (a) hoax and (b) real devices in each month of the last two years

Paul Goggins: The following table shows the number of times that the Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal personnel (EOD) have been called out in respect of both hoax and real devices in each month over the last two years.

And the dismal figures:

How to waste one's time, or rather that of one's clerk:

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what his estimate is of the cost of policing the 12 July events in 2009

(2) how many (a) uninsured and (b) untaxed vehicles were (i) involved in an accident and (ii) used in a crime in Northern Ireland in the last five years

(39) how many Police Service of Northern Ireland officers have been sent out alone on the beat in the last 12 months;

(40) how many new recruits to the Police Service of Northern Ireland since 2004 have had criminal convictions of each type
And the answer:

Paul Goggins: These are operational matters for the Chief Constable. I have asked him to reply directly to the hon. Member, and copies of his letters will be placed in the Library of the House.
I was tempted to screenshot the question, but the font size needed to fit on one page would be minuscule.

Patterson has a 29 parter here too. And got the same brush off

Mind boggler of the day:

"Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent discussions he has had on future uses of the Royal Opera House production campus in Thurrock.

Barbara Follett: I have had no discussions on the future uses of the Royal Opera House production in Thurrock.

However, I have recently discussed with the Minister for Skills (Kevin Brennan) at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills the progress of the capital bid that the Creative and Cultural Nationals Skills Academy has put in for a national training centre in Thurrock in partnership with the Royal Opera House".

I am sure the operatic types and the denizens of Thurrock get on like a house on fire. For non-illuminati, Thurrock is twinned with the Land God Gave to Cain.

An opportunity missed

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Leader of the House what recent assessment she has made of the quality of answers given by Ministers to parliamentary questions for written answer.

Barbara Keeley: My right hon. Friend and I keep the quality of answers given to written parliamentary questions under constant review.

C'mon Babs, you were supposed to respond'The answer could only be provided at disproportionate cost'.


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Anonymous Geoff said... 4:44 pm

On 'give a good goddamn' about maiden speeches, I would sense there are some gems to be had.

If candidiate Blair had been elected on his first platform...a commitment to withdraw from the EU...then it might be fun to have thrown back a phrase or two at our soon-to-be President.

I might have a rummage too - although methinks that any nuggets "may be available at disproportionate cost" to browsing time.  

Blogger JuliaM said... 4:44 pm

"Oh come on - the idea that traffickers, mack daddies and freelance brasses would be carving up territory in Stratford three years in advance is beyond silly."

It rather begs the question, what is it that ministers think tarts could actually do before the clients arrive on the scene...?  

Blogger Croydonian said... 11:27 am

(Apologies for late response - was out last nigt and failed dismally to comment by phone. Gah)

Geoff - shafts will be sunk in search of at least fool's gold.

Julia - Indeed, and somehow I doubt that the tsunami of tourist spending will be such that Stratford will have its morals undermined to the extent that Saigon's were during the Vietnam war.  

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