Commons To Delete MPs’ Attendance Data After Pressure From Ress-Mogg

23rd June 2022 / United Kingdom
Commons To Delete MPs' Attendance Data After Pressure From Ress-Mogg

Martha Spurrier is the Director of Liberty. She is a Visiting Professor of Law at Goldsmiths University, worked as a human rights barrister and co-founded the ‘Act for the Act’ campaign. As she said this week, the administration of Boris Johnson is undertaking a full-scale operational “power grab to take away our rights and remove any checks and balances on the government. It is not a new tactic, it’s the hallmark of Johnson’s government – from rewriting the ministerial code post-partygate to planning to scrap the Human Rights Act.”

Another hint of this power grab is to be as unaccountable as possible. Subsequently, the House of Commons has agreed to erase the data allowing people to find out when MPs enter and leave parliament following a backlash by ministers to a Freedom of Information request.

Earlier this month Jacob Rees-Mogg was highly critical of the ability of people outside of parliament to request data on MPs’ attendance to the Commons.

An internal publication for civil servants reports that – “The clerk of the house agreed to an urgent review on the issue, and has now altered internal policies so that when MPs use a security pass to enter or leave the building that information is held for just seven days. It means a mechanism for the public to see how often an MP swipes in to arrive at the Parliamentary estate has been curtailed. “

The row began when Rees-Mogg, the so-called ‘minister for government efficiency’, tweeted that “thanks to a lefty Freedom of Information request it turns out I attended the Commons on over 100% of sitting days in a year, 159 attended vs 154 sitting days”.


MPs were concerned the data on when they had attended the Commons could be made public


The FoI was based on the logs of the security passes required for anyone who works within the Palace of Westminster and other government buildings, including MPs.

It is understood other MPs were concerned the data on when they had attended the Commons could be made public through a similar request for information and began lobbying the parliamentary authorities for the rules to be changed so that data for MPs would not be held.

Members of Parliament are not obliged by parliamentary rules to attend the House of Commons at any time. From 2019 to 2021, there were 224 sitting days with an average of 352 attending of the 650 members of parliament.

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Official records from the House of Commons library show that in terms of whole tenures, Tony Blair had the highest MPs’ attendance rate of any Prime Minister since 1979. He attended 95.0% of the potential PMQs across his time in office, only missing 17 out of the 343 occasions. David Cameron was the next highest, with an attendance rate of 92.9%, followed by Margaret Thatcher (92.3%) and Theresa May (92.1%).




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