Saturday, November 18, 2006


I have been just looking for something to give my mind an intellectual workout this evening, and settled on reading about the goings on in the Mother of Parliaments. The members of this august band of people are the 646 privileged colossi to whom we all entrust the future direction of this country. And as we all know, it is in Westminster that we see the focus, the pinnacle of debate, the cut and thrust of razor sharp minds, honed on the debating stump, resolving for all our benefits the huge problems we all face today.

So, pootling around with my intellectual pin, where did it hit and what did I find? The first worrying thing was it related to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, John Leslie Prescott.

In spite of the TV based perception of the Chamber, the real machinery of Parliament is actually the backroom activities, the Select Committees, and the Parliamentary Questions and written Questions and Replies which give Back Benchers the opportunity to probe the actions of the High and Mighty – the Prime Minister and the members of his Cabinet.

For reasons which I can’t understand, JP has always come in for some stick over the way he operates his department. So one innocuous little question I came across was clearly aimed at probing how the Good Man controls and manages the administration and cost base of his rather sprawling Ministry. Rather than even comment on the point being addressed, just read this – it’s straight from the Horse’s Mouth – the Commons’ Written Answers on 25th October.

Caroline Spelman (Meriden, Conservative) Hansard source

Question - To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 4 September 2006, Official Report, column 1646W, on ballpoint pens, what use is being made of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister-branded pens; how much was spent between 2002 and the abolition of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on ODPM branded products and promotional gifts; and what types of goods were purchased.

Angela Smith (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Communities and Local Government) Hansard source

Answer - The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) branded pens are being used to write with, and will continue to be used as standard stationery items until stocks are exhausted.

Between May 2002 and May 2006 a total of £5,095 was spent on ODPM branded pens, carrier bags, and note pads.

These items were used at exhibitions and events to help promote the office's schemes and policies.

Just to be clear, the Bold, Italics and large type is mine.

Why have the Media missed this revelation? Talk about “The Public has a Right to know” – I’m not sure they can stand the tension.

If these two were your own kids, you’d send them to their bedroom with no tea. You just hope they were doing it for a bet, but I have a horrible suspicion, they were deadly serious.


No comments: