Probe after ‘smear campaign’ questions attributed to wrong MPs

parliamentary probe has been launched after Tory MPs denied tabling questions put down in their names, Scrapbook can reveal. The written questions related to spending on government credit cards — but the MPs for whom they were tabled had no idea what they had supposedly “asked”.

With John Prescott accusing Eric Pickles’ DCLG of running a media “smear campaign” against him over spending while he was Deputy PM, the questions under fake names are all seeking information in this area — despite several transactions having been conducted on illegally cloned cards.

The following question was changed after Lib Dem Sir Alan Beith angrily complained it didn’t come from him:

Charlie Elphicke: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 3 November 2008, Official Report, column 119W, on departmental procurement, if he will place in the Library a breakdown by(a) date, (b) supplier, (c) merchant type and (d) amount for each transaction for the £52,078.16 of spending on the Government Procurement Card/company Barclaycard. [101033]

A question on similar lines was put down in the name Beckenham MP Bob Stewart — but this also had to be changed and now appears under the name of a different MP. Yet another question is still on the books under Stewart’s name.

While the Tories have insisted the confusion is down to a series of innocent cock-ups, sources familiar with the situation have pointed to the possible involvement of Tory SpAds or whips in “placing” questions with MPs’ office staff without their knowledge.

The news comes after it emerged that a letter from the Cabinet Office on the matter was edited without permission from Britain’s top civil servant — after which a fake signature was added.

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3 Comments

  1. They changed the e-tabling system for PQs a while ago, so MPs can now only table five questions per day over the intranet, though there’s no limit on questions submitted in person by the MP. The Table Office said it was worried about MPs’ staffers going rogue and tabling questions without their boss’s knowledge.

    Maybe they were right about the ‘going rogue’ thing, but it seems that the cap on e-tabled questions hasn’t stopped it.

  2. Tris says:

    For god’s sake … it’s like a banana republic: stinking corrupt vile. It wants disinfecting, fumigating and starting all over again.

  3. [...] he has some bad news for them. They thought they were on to a winner earlier this week with a story claiming that John Prescott was the victim of a vicious Tory smear campaign. It was claimed that [...]

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