Would you like to be able to check on whether your Member of Parliament actually has a home in your Parliamentary constituency or not ?
Would you like to be able to work out which of their several homes, paid for out of public funds, is their main one, or whether they are "doing a Jacqui Smith" and claiming extra money for a more expensive London property, pretending that it is their main residence ?
Surely this information might influence whether you believe a Parliamentary candidate's claims to be a "local" or not ?
In future, you will be denied this basic information, which has been available for many years, without causing any "security" problems, following Monday's disgraceful vote in the Commons, if it is not overturned.
Members of Parliament have sneaked in an amendment, without any debate to the Political Parties and Elections Bill right at the end of the Report Stage, and just before the Bill was rubber stamped by the Commons for the Third Reading.
New Clause 23
Candidate At Parliamentary Election May Withhold Home Address From Publication
'(1) Schedule 1 to the 1983 Act (parliamentary elections rules) is amended as follows.
(2) In rule 6 (nomination of candidates)--
(a) sub-paragraph (b) of paragraph (2) is omitted;
(b) after paragraph (3) there is inserted--
"(4) The nomination paper must be accompanied by a form (in this Schedule referred to as the "home address form") which states the candidate's--
(a) full names, and
(b) home address in full.
Provision in paragraph (1) above about delivery of the nomination paper applies also to the home address form.
(5) The home address form--
(a) may contain a statement made and signed by the candidate that he requires the home address not to be made public; and
(b) if it does so, must state the constituency within which that address is situated (or, if that address is outside the United Kingdom, the country within which it is situated)."
(3) In rule 11 (right to attend nomination)--
(a) in paragraph (3), after "nomination paper" there is inserted "and associated home address form";
(b) after paragraph (4) there is inserted--
"(5) The returning officer shall not permit a home address form to be inspected otherwise than in accordance with this rule, or for some other purpose authorised by law."
(4) In rule 12 (validity of nomination papers), in paragraph (1)--
(a) after "consent to it" there is inserted "and the home address form";
(b) after sub-paragraph (a) there is inserted--
"(aa) the returning officer decides that the home address form does not comply with rule 6(4); or".
(5) In rule 14 (publication of statement of persons nominated), after paragraph (3) there is inserted--
"(3A) In relation to a nominated person in whose case the home address form (or, if the person is nominated by more than one nomination paper, any of the home address forms) contains--
(a) the statement mentioned in rule 6(5)(a), and
(b) the information mentioned in rule 6(5)(b),
the reference in paragraph (2) to the person's address shall be read as a reference to the information mentioned in rule 6(5)(b)."
(6) After paragraph (4) of that rule there is inserted--
(a) two or more of the names shown on the statement are the same or so similar as to be likely to cause confusion,
(b) paragraph (3A) applies in relation to each of the persons in question, and
(c) the information mentioned in rule 6(5)(b) is the same for each of them,
the returning officer may cause any of their particulars to be shown on the statement with such amendments or additions as the officer thinks appropriate in order to reduce the likelihood of confusion.
(4B) Where it is practicable to do so before the publication of the statement, the returning officer shall consult any person whose particulars are to be amended or added to under paragraph (4A).
(4C) The returning officer must give notice in writing to any person whose particulars are amended or added to under paragraph (4A).
(4D) Anything done by a returning officer in pursuance of paragraph (4A) must not be questioned in any proceedings other than proceedings on an election petition.
(4E) A returning officer must have regard to any guidance issued by the Electoral Commission for the purposes of paragraph (4A)."
(7) Before rule 54 there is inserted--
"Destruction of home address forms
53A The returning officer shall destroy each candidate's home address form--
(a) on the next working day following the 21st day after the officer has returned the name of the member elected; or
(b) if an election petition questioning the election or return is presented before that day, on the next working day following the conclusion of proceedings on the petition or on appeal from such proceedings."'.--(Dr. Julian Lewis.)
Question put, That the clause be added to the Bill.
The House proceeded to a Division.
Mr. Heath: On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I wonder whether there is any precedent for taking a Division on a completely undebated new clause, which falls in a later group that we have not yet reached, which is in the hands of Back Benchers from an opposition party and which has not even been moved. Is there a precedent for that?
Madam Deputy Speaker: I have made a decision, and given my ruling and the reasons why this vote has been taken. I have nothing further to add.
The House having divided: Ayes 235, Noes 176.
Division No. 45] [9.2 pm
Question accordingly agreed to.
New clause 23 added to the Bill.
The (Labour) Deputy Speaker Silvia Heal now seems to be just as bad as the (Labour) Speaker Michael Martin, and she just dismissed any objections or Points of Order.
Madam Deputy Speaker: The Chair does not give reasons for a decision that has been made. I have made a ruling, and that is the end of the matter.
What an utter insult to the Electorate and the General Public !
The vote was not strictly according to party lines, with both Conservative and Labour backbench MPs voting for this clause 23 The Liberal Democrats seem to have mostly voted against this sneaky measure (apart from Lembit Opik) , along with most , but not all Labour Government Ministers, and some Labour backbenchers. The Conservative frontbench mostly seems to have abstained (apart from Liam Fox who voted for this measure") ,, and most (if not all) of the Welsh and Scottish Nationalist Parties and the Northern Irish parties.
See the Public Whip website for a breakdown of which MPs voted or abstained:
There must have been some secret backroom political deal, for this to have been sneaked through like this, without any debate at all.
This vote has further eroded public trust in Members of Parliament,
We fear that the House of Lords will chicken out of being seen to be interfering with something to do with the mechanics of the House of Commons, if they reject this Clause 23, but they really should be a constitutional check on the Members of the Commons granting themselves secret powers and privileges, to the detriment of political openness, financial transparency and democracy.
Are we returning to 18th Century "Rotten Boroughs", where the Member of Parliament collects the money and political power from a constituency, but does not bother to live there ?
At the next General Election or By Election, every candidate should be asked what exactly they are trying to hide if they attempt make use of this new Clause 23, if it remains in the Bill until passed into law.
Is it worth compiling a web search engine accessible list of all Members of Parliaments home addresses , now, before the next election ?