Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Call for inquiry into MP’s use of Parliamentary mail

A LEADING Liberal Democrat Councillor in Gateshead is calling on Parliamentary authorities to investigate the use of Parliamentary stationery and mail system by Labour MP, Dave Anderson.

Dr Jonathan Wallace, Councillor for Whickham South and Sunniside in Mr Anderson’s Blaydon constituency, is making the call after he was sent a copy of a party political mailshot sent by Mr Anderson to Labour members and supporters.

The letter is on House of Commons notepaper and was sent in a first class, prepaid House of Commons envelope.

In the letter, Mr Anderson wrote:

“Locally we need to give support to our [Labour] candidates in the council elections [to be held in May].” He goes on to say that “we need to combat the negativity and political opportunism of our opponents. They do not deserve to represent our people and our people don’t deserve to have second rate representatives in the council. By working together we can deliver a strong vote for Labour.”

Mr Anderson also discusses the forthcoming Labour leadership contest. He said, “Hopefully we will come out of the process with a united party that leads us forward to a fourth consecutive win at the polls, whenever that occurs.”

House of Commons rules are clear that stationery and mail, paid for by the tax payer, should not be used for party political purposes. They are provided for MPs to write to constituents who have raised issues with them. They are not meant to be used for cold call mailings, especially ones that are party political.

“This mailshot appears to be outside the rules of the House of Commons,” said Dr Wallace. “It appears to have been sent to Labour members with the intention of whipping up support for Labour’s council candidates for the local elections in May.

“I don’t know who sent it to me as they have removed their address from the envelope. However, it seems to me that the person who forwarded it to me is concerned about a possible misuse of Parliamentary facilities.

“I note Mr Anderson’s description of myself and my Lib Dem colleagues as ‘second rate’.

“I am not going to respond publicly to such a childish description other than to say that if Mr Anderson wants to engage in that sort of attack on opponents, his comments should appear only in Labour leaflets, paid for by the Labour party, rather than in Parliamentary mail, paid for by the tax payer.

“Nor, I feel, should Mr Anderson be using tax payer funded House of Commons facilities to promote Labour council candidates.

“He needs to be reminded he is there as a representative of all the people of the constituency of Blaydon, including the majority who do not vote Labour.

“I am therefore writing to the Serjeant at Arms to bring his attention to the matter and ask him to investigate what appears to be a possible breach of the rules on the use of Parliamentary facilities.”

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