I've always said that my blog should in no way be a substitute to more traditional means of communicating with the electorate. So last week I refrained from commenting on this blog about local Labour MP Jonathan Shaw's support for a proposed Bill which will exempt MPs from Freedom of Information legislation and instead sent a press release to the local Kent Messenger. Despite the Tonbridge & Malling edition carrying an informative piece on last week's Commons vote, they have failed to include my comment. So in order to ensure that my views are properly recorded on the issue, here is the press release sent to the KM last week:
Released by: Tracey Crouch
Date: 21th May 2007
OUTRAGE AT MPs SUPPORT FOR SECRECY BILL
Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Chatham & Aylesford Tracey Crouch today condemned Labour MP Jonathan Shaw for supporting a Bill which would exempt MPs from the Freedom of Information Act, and thereby keeping their expenses secret.
Tracey Crouch said, "Many residents will be shocked to discover that our local MP has given his backing to this legislative assault on open government. I believe that the public have an absolute right to know exactly how much our elected representatives are costing the taxpayer and to know exactly what they are doing in our name. I am appalled that our local MP saw fit to support this anti-democratic measure.
"It can surely be no coincidence that this Bill has come so quickly after MPs travel expenses were revealed following a Freedom of Information disclosure. Clearly, there is a need to keep personal correspondence between MPs and their constituent?s private, but this is already covered by data protection legislation. I hope that this proposal will now be defeated in the House of Lords.
"Whether or not the Bill passes into law, I pledge that if elected to represent Chatham & Aylesford at the next election I will make all my travel and office expenses fully public."