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Democracy never comes cheap

January 26th, 2010 · Posted by Skuds in Politics · No Comments · Politics

Crawley and Horsham towns are only a few miles apart, the two parliamentary constituencies rub right against each other, but as far as representation goes they might as well be on different planets.   Look no further than today’s activity in parliament to see the difference.

Laura Moffatt (Labour. Crawley) asked two questions in a debate, both about Children’s Centres and the need to not only protect the service but to extend it.

Francis Maude (Tory. Horsham) got answers to 50 written questions.  I didn’t read them all, but the first one was to ask whether prices in the HoP gift shop had risen when VAT returned to 17.5%.    Could have been easily answered by just popping in there and having a look I would have thought.  I know Maude does not spend as much time in parliament doing his job as most MPs do, ((he has only voted in 42% of votes)) but surely he could have sent a research assistant to pop down and actually do some research instead of bunging up the parliamentary questions system with such fluff.It seems that Laura is busy doing that side of an MP’s job that takes up a lot of time and cannot be delegated (actually turning up to listen to and contribute to debates) while Frankie specialises in doing that side of an MP’s job that makes it look like he is busy but could easily be done by researchers, interns or Tory HQ staff (submitting endless written questions).

Of course, without evidence to the contrary, we have to assume that Maude actually spends hours every day thinking of loads of questions all by himself, writing them down himself, submitting them himself, and then poring over the answers later on all by himself… but Occam’s Razor springs to mind here.  Still.  Makes him look busy doesn’t it?

I have a question myself.  Are these 50 answers part of the 117 written answers the Guardian referred to in its diary last Friday or are they in addition to that?  In other words has his little habit cost us £18,018 in a week or has it cost us £25,718?

Apparently the cost of answering written questions works out to about £154 on average, so this is an expensive habit.  According to Theyworkforyou Francis Maude has received answers to 637 written questions in the last year. ((Does that mean in the last 12 months or just since Jan 1st 2010?  I don’t think I would be surprised either way)) I make that just over £98,000 cost to answer them.  It would have been cheaper to let him carry on claiming for his three homes!

As the Guardian said “democracy is great but it never comes cheap”

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