Please read Tom Steinburg’s message and do what he says! right now!

“…Ministers are about to conceal MPs’ expenses, even though the public has just paid £1m to get them all ready for publication, and even though the tax man expects citizens to do what MPs don’t have to. They buried the news on the day of the Heathrow runway announcement. This is heading in the diametric wrong direction from government openness.”

Facebook Group – I object to MPs concealing their expenses

The Sunday Times today reported that public bodies are spending about £2m a year on political consultants to help them lobby ministers and MPs for more tax payers’ money. Some departments have failed to respond so their could be many more hidden lobbying contracts.

In the USA they have a handy little law to prevent public funds being spent on lobbying:

Sec. 1352. Limitation on use of appropriated funds to influence
certain Federal contracting and financial transactions

-STATUTE-
(a)(1) None of the funds appropriated by any Act may be expended
by the recipient of a Federal contract, grant, loan, or cooperative
agreement to pay any person for influencing or attempting to
influence an officer or employee of any agency, a Member of
Congress, an officer or employee of Congress, or an employee of a
Member of Congress in connection with any Federal action described
in paragraph (2) of this subsection.

(2) The prohibition in paragraph (1) of this subsection applies
with respect to the following Federal actions:
(A) The awarding of any Federal contract.
(B) The making of any Federal grant.
(C) The making of any Federal loan.
(D) The entering into of any cooperative agreement.
(E) The extension, continuation, renewal, amendment, or
modification of any Federal contract, grant, loan, or cooperative
agreement.

http://uscode.house.gov/uscode-cgi/fastweb.exe?getdoc+uscview+t29t32+1818+0++(%27influence%20%20or%20attempt%20to%20influence%27)

Got to get us one of those laws. In the mean time we have to use freedom of information to make them accountable.

The Department of Communities and Local Government told to improve its handling of Freedom of Information requests after delays of up to 400 days.

http://www.lgcplus.com/News/2008/11/dclg_rapped_over_information_delays.html

“In accordance with his enforcement strategy, the Information Commissioner has conducted
an audit of a number of section 50 complaints concerning the Department for Communities
and Local Government (the ‘Department’). As a result, the Commissioner is of the view that
the Department’s procedures do not conform to the following Code of Practice issued by the
Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs in November 2004:…”

Practice Notice

“Your request has served to highlight to the current management that when SITPRO became a Company Limited by Guarantee in 2001 the need for a separate Publication Scheme for SITPRO was overlooked. Previously, SITPRO was substantially part of the then DTI and would, we believe, have been deemed to have been covered by that Department’s scheme. We are now working to remedy that situation and publish a Scheme to fulfil the Information Commissioner’s latest model publication scheme guidance. Such schemes are to be in place by 1 January 2009. The SITPRO scheme will be available on our web site (www.sitpro.org.uk) by that time.”

Sitpro response letter

SITPRO Limited appear to have forgotten to put in place a publication scheme, but at least they have been open about it