If you have a look at the TheyWorkForYou.Com website, you can find out a lot about what an individual MP has been doing.
For example, there’s a lot there about our Rayleigh MP , Mark Francois. One thing stands out – in his role as Shadow Treasury Minister, he asks lots of written questions in parliament- he’s received about 610 answers in the last year. That is a lot – the Lib Dem MP Norman Baker is renowned for asking lots of questions, and he has only received answers to 533 in the past year. For Rochford MP James Duddridge, the figure is only 78
This aspect of his work as an MP doesn’t seemed to have been picked up by our local media, and it’s not something that the local Conservative Party have highlighted either. Here’s a few of Mark Francois’ recent questions (clink on the links to see the answers)
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much his Department spent on newspapers and periodicals in 2006-07.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the costs of running No. 11 Downing street were in 2005-06.
To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what costs have been incurred by her Department as a result of proposals to create a Ministry of Justice.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the answer of 1 February 2007, Official Report, column 519W, on identity cards, how penalties under the Identity Cards Act 2006 will be communicated to those who incur them.
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many individuals related to suspected terrorists have had their welfare payments (a) suspended and (b) terminated in each of the last nine months; and what value of payments was suspended or terminated in each case.
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the principal population projections of the Government Actuary’s Department for 2031, what estimate he has made of the effect of the expected increase in the UK’s population on UK carbon emissions; and if he will make a statement.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what official (a) lunches, (b) dinners and (c) receptions he hosted in each of the last six months; and what the (i) location, (ii) total cost and (iii) purpose was of each event.
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many people Sport England employed in each region in each of the last eight years.
I suppose the crucial question is: what does he do with the answers he gets? For example, when he finds out how much the Chancellor of the Exchequer spent on newspapers and periodicals in 2006-07, what will he do? Will he share the information with us? How much does he think would be a reasonable sum for the Chancellor to spend? What is the point of asking his question?
There are good things we can learn, of course – that our MP is against ID cards and Foundation Hospitals, for example.
And not such good things – he voted against a government plan to allow unmarried and gay couples to adopt children, he voted for a fully appointed House of Lords, for spending billions on Trident.
And to his eternal shame, he voted in favour of the war in Iraq.
You’re right Sid – some of the questions do a seem a little unnnecessary – for example the one on newspaper and periodicals.
But all his questioning is useful for us Lib Dems in the District – councillors and non-councillors.
With the new cabinet structure coming in for the district council, it looks like being harder for us to keep an idea on whats going on – it won’t be easy for us to stand up and ask questions during policy meetings, because the cabinet will be all Tory.
So it looks like we’re going to have to ask a lot more written questions ourselves – and if any complaints start coming back that we are asking too many , we can point to Mark Francois and say “We are just following his example!”
Mr Francois can also been seen using some balloons (really) to aid him in his questions on Gordon Brown’s tax record:
(scroll down to 99 red balloons)
Mr Cameron’s blog is also very useful if you’re a gentleman looking for fashion tips on trendy ties.
Ut ameris, amabilis esto
Apologies to those who were desperately scrambling to click on the link which I posted; in the space of a few hours, the website has undergone significant change and the red balloons are nowhere to be found.
It’s been a big day in politics!
I found it more interested to see how my MP (or whoever) voted on issues such as ID cards, the smoking ban, the iraq war and equal gay rights in particular.
I found out things about certain MPs that have completely changed my views on them as MP, and people as well.
I’m not sure how i found theyworkforus.com, but it was in a week or two before the local elections. An interesting site none the less. Some of the questions asked in parliament i find very bizzarre.
I see that Mr Francois is set to take over as Shadow Minister for Europe, following the departure of Tory frontbencher Graham Brady.
Vulpem pilum mutat, non mores