Lib Dems to boycott Speaker’s committee

The PA reports:

Plans by Speaker Michael Martin to set up a committee to look into last week’s police raid at the House of Commons are hanging in the balance after Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg announced his party will boycott it.

Both Lib Dems and Conservatives are angry over Government plans to ensure Labour dominates the seven-member committee, as well as Leader of the Commons Harriet Harman’s insistence that it must not start its deliberations until the police investigation and any criminal proceedings are concluded.

Mr Clegg said that a “neutered” committee of this kind would not serve the public interest, while Tory Commons leader Theresa May warned that it might not even meet for months.

Mr Martin announced the establishment of the committee in a dramatic statement on Wednesday, when he informed MPs of the sequence of events which led to Conservative immigration spokesman Damian Green’s Westminster office being searched by police investigating alleged leaks of Home Office secrets.

The Speaker revealed that the Metropolitan Police did not have a warrant and expressed “regret” that they were admitted to the Palace of Westminster by Serjeant at Arms Jill Pay without his personal authority. He said he would personally nominate seven “senior and experienced MPs” to look into the affair and report to the Commons “as soon as possible”.

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16 Comments

  • Good.
    It’s got stitch up written all over it.

  • Satnam Singh 5th Dec '08 - 10:40am

    Mick’s days as speaker are numbered.

  • David Morton 5th Dec '08 - 12:44pm

    The handling of this issue has been much more astue in terms of the party’s positioning and core values than much recent behaviour. As late as the removal of Ian Blair spokespeople felt the need to avoid the major isues and focus on any minor anti tory infraction. So the welcome eparture of a man we’d been calling on to depart for years became an attack on whether Boris had done the paper work correctly. Not it was transparent out of a desire for proper paper work bt because boris is a Tory and we hadn’t quite worked out how to Come to terms with the tory recovery.

    My dread on this issue was that we would try and get some milage out of a Tory MP in truble. However that hasn’t happened.

    Apart from doing the right thing ( always an added bonus but non esential in politics) we have come across as liberal on this isue but also as part of a broader anti government movement. Whether we like it or not that is the dynamic we are now in . Labour/Anti Labour. its not easy for independent third party’s to adjust to that but tiangulation ( a plague on both your houses) works well well when you have a weak Tory party as well as a government.

    However when you have a weak government and recovered principal opposition plague on both your houses just makes you look like you are carping

    I think Gren is the first piece of proper strategic positioning the party has done since, well, Iraq.

    Unfortunately its on an issue that joe Public doesn’t care about but its a welcome start.

  • Satnam Singh 5th Dec '08 - 5:16pm

    How to define wider public? Everyone I spoke to are very interested and want to see the back of gorbals mick asap. And this government too.

  • David Allen 5th Dec '08 - 6:11pm

    Now OK, I take the point that the police went over the top, there is a long tradition of leaking in the public interest that we should support, and a Government that hides inconvenient truths deserves to be vilified. I can just about applaud the anti-immigration leaks that Green has been making political use of, given that the leaks are (presumably) truthful. However, where do we draw the line on all this?

    Suppose that the Utopian Democratic Party were to pay a professional mole to join the Civil Service and leak to them like a sieve. Do we think that should be legal?

    The Tories have pointed out that none of their leaks could have damaged national security. OK, but is that the only criterion? Suppose that the fictional UDP mole were to leak it that petrol tax was going up tomorrow, and the UDP were to shout this news from the rooftops and persuade the public to rush and fill up today. Would that be legal, and should it be?

    Suppose that the ruler of Stentoria was a genocidal maniac. What if the UDP mole broke the news that when the ruler of Stentoria visits next week, our Government were going to lie to him about their support for the Stentorian rebels, in the hopes that the rebels would win and put an end to the genocide. Would that be leaking in the public interest?

    What about if the UDP mole found out about the snap general election that was planned. Would it be OK for him to leak that information, and get the UDP to buy up all the poster sites and printing facilities, leaving the Lib Dems struggling?

    There is surely a balance to be struck.

    I’m also, like Darrell, not very confident that the public sees it entirely our way. We might see it as a liberties issue. The public may spot that we are politicians, and that we make a big fuss when the police hurt politicians. There was a nice video on the News a couple of days back, showing the police gratuitously beating up some ordinary Joe who had mouthed off at them. I don’t recall a big storm of protest from politicians in support of the ordinary Joe. The public thinks it knows why not.

  • Clegg's Candid Fan 6th Dec '08 - 11:20am

    It looks as though there may be an element of tactical manoeuvring in this “boycott”. Andrew Sparrow of the Guardian says:
    “Nick Clegg has said he will boycott the committee, but I’m told that threat only applies to the committee as proposed by Harman. If Harman’s motion gets defeated, and an alternative committee gets set up with a slightly different remit, then the Lib Dems are expected to take part.”
    [my emphasis]
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/blog/2008/dec/05/damian-green-commons

  • CCF did you even read the article? Clegg’s whole objection is to how the government is proposing to make up and run the committee not to the idea of the committee itself.

  • Clegg's Candid Fan 7th Dec '08 - 1:31am

    Peter1919

    Please just read my post properly. Thanks.

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