The Government has managed to neuter the inquiry promised by the Speaker of the House of Commons last week into the search of the offices and emails etc. of opposition Conservative frontbench spokesman on Immigration, Damian Green.
This was supposed to be an immediate Parliamentary Committee of 7 experienced MPs, with the power to call everyone involved in Government to report, in public, "as soon as possible", ,the Police and the House of Commons bureaucracy as witnesses.
Instead, what the Labour party whips have got through, is a Committee with an inbuilt Government majority, with a very limited remit, which will convene to elect a chairman and then immediately adjourn, until some vague time in the future, when all possible Police enquiries or legal proceedings (including appeals) are concluded.
This will months or years into the future.
So much for Gordon Brown's lies about making the Executive more accountable to Parliament.
Will the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties actually boycott this sham of an inquiry, as they indicated they might ?
There was some mention e.g. by the former Labour Minister Frank Dobson, that the Privileges of the House of Commons and the Wilson Doctrine, should be clarified and spelled out explicitly in an Act of Parliament,
If we are serious about parliamentary privilege, we need to clarify what we mean by it. We should turn it into statute law to show that we take it seriously and that anyone who breaches it will be dealt with seriously. I would also include in such a law the Wilson doctrine that prohibits our phones being tapped. It was not very long ago that the previous Prime Minister was going to undermine that doctrine, and he was only prevented from doing so by a Cabinet revolt. Conventions cannot be set aside at the behest of a Prime Minister or any individual, which is why we need to shift the rules on parliamentary privilege to statute law.
However, this long overdue idea was ignored the Labour Government control freaks and placemen.
During the debate, Harriet Harman, the Leader of the House, who used to be a civil liberties lawyer, but who has obviously now been turned to the dark side, refused to give any sort of assurance to her opposite number the Conservative Teresa May, that the seizure of documents etc. in the Palace of Westminster did not also include far more than just items relating to Damian Green MP. She kept silent when directly asked to if this could also have included shared (Microsoft Exchange) email server and computer network drive computer resources, containing emails and documents from many other Members of Parliament, their constituents and other potential whistleblowers.
[Hansard URL available tomorrow morning]:
Mr. Mark Harper (Forest of Dean) (Con): I should like to mention one of the reasons why it is important that the Committee should be able to do its work. My right hon. Friend and I asked the Leader of the House a question at business questions last week, but it has not been adequately answered. We asked whether last week the police were granted access to data belonging to other hon. Members. That has not been properly answered. [Interruption.] No, it has not been properly answered, and the Leader of the House needs to answer it properly for the House.
Mrs. May: I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. The Leader of the House referred to the fact that Mr. Speaker said that the issue would be looked into, but--I am very happy for the Leader of the House to intervene on me and confirm this--she did not confirm that the police had not had access to the shared drive or the servers. If they had, they would have had the ability to access every Member's correspondence and e-mails. I invite the Leader of the House to intervene on me and confirm that that was not the case. Her silence suggests either that she does not know, or that she is not able to give the House the assurance that it requires, and that is of concern to each and every Member of the House.
If you have contacted your constituency MP via email in the last 2 years or so, your private correspondence could well have been trawled through by the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command.
Please risk another email (or a fax or letter) to your MP, e.g. via WriteToThem.com, simply asking them if, as a result of the Damian Green Police raid on Parliament, copies of your confidential email or fax correspondence with your MP, have been seized or rifled through by the Police.