Norman's on the war-path again

by Stephen Tall on October 11, 2007

Norman Baker, Lib Dem Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, and scourge of the Establishment, has called for the head of Sir John Bourn, head of the National Audit Office, who’s racked up £365,000 travel expenses in the last three years:

“It is incredible that Sir John Bourn has seen fit to run up gigantic bills for largesse at the taxpayers’ expense. Even more serious is appearing to accept hospitality from companies such as BAE which compromises the independent and professional standing essential to someone in this post. The time has come for him to call it a day in the interests of good administration.”

Norman has also criticised the Speaker of the Commons, Michael Martin, for hiring – at a cost of over £20,000 of public money – famed city libel law firm, Carter-Ruck, to challenge claims about his impartiality during debates. (Should make for an interesting moment of frisson in the Chamber the next time Norman tries to catch the Speaker’s eye.)

“This is a deeply worrying figure. Of course it’s right that there should be legal advice available to all members of the House of Commons. But in this case it appears the very expensive Carter-Ruck has effectively been used to issue press releases and that those instructing them have been content to sign blank cheques irrespective of the cost to the taxpayer.”

Norman may wish to have a quiet word with Lib Dem colleague, Nick Harvey, the MPs’ representative on the House of Commons Commission who approved the Speaker’s request for taxpayers to pick up the tab for defending his integrity.

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Ah – maybe this is why my article criticising the speaker never saw the light of day 🙂

What purpose does Nick serve by being on this commission? It was as its spokesman that he supported the plan to exempt MPs from FoI IIRC.

by Hywel Morgan on October 11, 2007 at 11:45 pm. Reply #

And some people complain that MPs have £120,000 of expenses! Honestly, how do people like this keep their jobs?

by Letters From A Tory on October 12, 2007 at 8:34 am. Reply #

This is outrageous. Attacks on Michael Martin have been on his personal failure to be an effective Speaker.

If he want s lawyers to deal with that he should pay for it personally rather than expect the taxpayer to pay.

I am very glad we have Norman in our party and long may his good work continue.

by Antony Hook on October 12, 2007 at 3:35 pm. Reply #

Good on Norman for taking up these matters.

It should also probably be noted that Private Eye have been highlighting both the dodgy boss of the NAO and Speaker Martin’s waste of public cash for months.

by Simon on October 12, 2007 at 5:47 pm. Reply #

The approval of taking legal advice came from the Commons administration, not the Commission. I simply put this into the public domain.

Speaker Martin was not under attack for being a “lousy speaker” but for allegedly following discriminatory employment practices for senior posts. This was not true (The Times apologised and withdrew their claim) and left unchecked could have made it hard to fill posts. The sums quoted are gross – ie before press repaying some.

The Commission is the cross-party body which oversees the running of the Commons. It would be absurd not to be on it. And I did NOT support the FOI Amendment Act!

by Nick Harvey on October 13, 2007 at 10:55 am. Reply #

Anyone who still believes that Dr David Kelly committed suicide should read the following:

Keep up the good work, Norman.

by Angus Huck on October 16, 2007 at 12:42 pm. Reply #

Nick –

You didn’t ask the committee approved to put it to a vote.

You didn’t propose any amendments at the committee stage

Whilst you said you were “queasy” about it but then went on to say, “However, it is up to those who do not believe that the Bill, which has the advantage of clarity and simplicity, is the way to address these very real issues to come up with a better suggestion.” which is hardly trenchent opposition.

And as far as I see Simon Hughes’ EDM (no 1545) isn’t among the 718 EDM’s you’ve decided to sign in the current session.

by Hywel Morgan on October 16, 2007 at 8:45 pm. Reply #


Please allow me the right to decide what legislation I support. I made it clear in media interviews and elsewhere that I opposed the Bill.

I accept with hindsight that I could have been more vociferous at the committee. But committee stages don’t vote on the principle of a Bill – that comes at second and third reading. I didn’t think the Bill amendable into an acceptable form, though existing legislation could have been amended to address the two points Maclean made. But that would have been outwith the scope of his Bill, which quite unnecessarily removed Parliament from the Act.

Simon’s EDM is fine until it denies the problem about correspondence, which I know to have some validity.

by Nick Harvey on October 17, 2007 at 3:04 pm. Reply #

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