BUSINESS QUESTION – MPS' HOME ADDRESSES – 10 July 2008
Dr Julian Lewis: That fine newspaper of record, the Sunday Telegraph, found plenty of space to attack me last week over the Freedom of Information matter concerning the publication of Members' home addresses, but curiously found no space at all to record the fact that the House had unanimously passed the resolution that those addresses should not be disclosed. I am sure that that had nothing to do with the fact that one of the paper's own reporters initiated the dangerous campaign to publish the addresses. Can the Leader of the House therefore spell out, in words of one syllable, what the significance will be of the Statutory Instrument that is scheduled for debate on 17 July? Can she give particular attention to the possibility that MPs will need some guidance to be sent to Electoral Registration Officers, so that they can be accorded the right of anonymous registration? Otherwise, the effect of the standing order will be vitiated.
[The Leader of the House of Commons (Ms Harriet Harman): The hon. Gentleman has done more than anybody to ensure that there can be proper, open debate in this House without Members looking over their shoulders because their addresses have been put on the House of Commons website. We are grateful to him for his work. However, I am sure that he will agree that it is unlikely in the extreme that I could be in a conspiracy with the Sunday Telegraph against him in that respect. Indeed, I would be happy to be in a conspiracy with him against the Sunday Telegraph on the issue. We will bring forward a Statutory Instrument under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 that will provide that the House authorities are not required to disclose Members' addresses or any information that could lead to the identification of their addresses. That Statutory Instrument will be restricted to the House authorities. The hon. Gentleman also raised an important point about the publication of addresses in respect of nomination, standing for election and electoral registration, which is a separate issue, but one that we need to look at, too.]