BUSINESS QUESTION - MPs' ADDRESSES; SIMON MANN – 15 May 2008
Dr Julian Lewis: May we have an opportunity to question the Information Commissioner in person about his determination - insane in the current security environment - to make Members of Parliament disclose their private home addresses?
While we wait for that, may we have a debate on Early-Day Motion 1476?
[That this House deplores the transfer by Zimbabwe to Equatorial Guinea of Mr Simon Mann after nearly five years in gaol, in contravention of assurances given to the UK Government that this would not occur while his appeal process was still underway; is appalled that he has been held in shackles in Black Beach Prison ever since; condemns the continuing refusal to grant United Kingdom consular access to him since a single visit in March; and urges the Government to seek the support of the United States and other influential countries to safeguard Mr Mann's human rights in this perilous situation.]
More than 100 hon. Members have signed it and some of the most senior Back Benchers from all parties, including a former Labour Party Chairman, have sponsored it. It is about the fate of my constituent, Mr Simon Mann, to whom consular access has been denied since his enforced appearance in a television interview on Channel 4, in which he was obliged to incriminate himself before a trial, which appears to have been put off sine die.
[The Leader of the House of Commons (Ms Harriet Harman): The hon. Gentleman and several of his hon. Friends have raised the matter of Simon Mann, which is of concern to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I will bring the hon. Gentleman's concern to its attention again and, if any more information is available, I shall ensure that he gets it. I hope that he will let either me or the Foreign and Commonwealth Office know about any further proposals, and action can be taken on them.
The hon. Gentleman mentioned the Information Commissioner. Hon. Members know that requests have been made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 for the home addresses of Members who have homes in London, where they stay when they are away from their constituencies. They must have a home in London for when the House is sitting. Journalists have made Freedom of Information requests for the publication of hon. Members' addresses in London, where they are often far away from their families, living on their own. There are security considerations and the hon. Gentleman will know that the information has been refused. The Information Tribunal's decision that the addresses should be made available has been appealed against and is now before the High Court. I will not therefore say anything further except that the High Court is considering the matter because an appeal was made on the basis that the decisions would breach hon. Members' security. The point is that, when we come to the House, we need to be able to speak about all sorts of controversial matters, for example, animal rights extremism -
Mr Speaker: Order. I reminded an hon. Gentleman earlier when the High Court case was mentioned that, for the purposes of the House, the matter is sub judice until their lordships report back to us.]