New Forest East



Dr Julian Lewis: I think that my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Devizes (Michael Ancram) has put his finger on a key issue, which I hope to address if I am fortunate enough to catch your eye, Mr Deputy Speaker. However, I should like to press one point in any case. Just because once every four or five years we have to disclose one of our addresses on certain documents to do with elections does not mean that we should disclose them all, en masse, in an easily accessible way. When I enter one of my addresses – the one that I have sometimes disclosed at election times – and my name on to the Google search engine, not a single match comes up, but if we did not do what we are doing now everyone's addresses would be freely available at home and abroad.

[The Leader of the House of Commons (Ms Harriet Harman): The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right, and I congratulate him on the work that he has done that led to us introducing this statutory instrument. Although the public are strongly in favour of openness and freedom of information, and want to know about public money that is spent on our residences and travel, they also understand that there are security issues and that we should approach such matters with a measure of common sense.

Should this House and the other place see fit to pass the order, it will not change the fact that the overwhelming majority of information held by the House of Commons and the House of Lords will remain subject to the Freedom of Information Act, and will be published. It is right that there should be openness about spending public money, so the House still plans to publish information on the expenses of every Member in the autumn. I commend this statutory instrument to the House.]

[For Julian's speech in this Debate, click here.]