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It's official! Pixies write parliamentary websites
Apparently no actual named humans were involved in the production of the UK one
Some of you will be familiar with my effort to get Parliament to attach a name of a real man or woman to the statements on its website about sovereignty. It turns out that being accountable for what you say or do is not a popular thing. They refused to give me details, with an arm waving claim that nebulous and unidentified persons and teams were involved. I appealed, because it is important to go through the motions of the official process in order to demonstrate their lack of dedication to the principles of public life.
Here is the response to my appeal, with my commentary added.
Dear Martin Geddes,
F23-139 Freedom of Information Request – Internal Review
You requested an internal review of the handling of your recent Freedom of Information request in which you asked the House of Commons five questions related to the webpage on Parliament’s website here, entitled Parliamentary Sovereignty. I am writing now to inform you of the outcome of that review.
The internal review found that your request had been handled appropriately at all stages and information disclosed in accordance with the Houses’ obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
No surprise there!
It may be helpful for you to know that the internal review carefully considered each of the grounds you cited in your request for an internal review. In relation to the responses to your questions 1 and 2, it is the case that no one person (or team) has decision authority over the publication or content of the webpage in question. Production of pages such as this will typically be the result of collaborative endeavours drawing upon the expertise of range of subject specialists and procedural advisers.
So there you have it! Official websites grow up like daisies between the sidewalk slabs. There is no record or recollection of who was involved. The single most important public statement about the power of the legislature just magically appeared. So perhaps it really was the pixies who produced it?
The idea that nobody has any decision authority over what is published on an official website is laughable and insulting.
The internal review also found that the application of a section 21 exemption, on the grounds that the information was already available from a public source, in response to your fifth and final question was appropriately applied.
Except that public source also failed to be accountable.
Notwithstanding the importance of Parliamentary Sovereignty within a parliamentary democracy, the issues you raise about the content of the webpage and its interpretation of parliamentary sovereignty are not susceptible to debate under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The Enquiries Team has already shared with you some thoughts and further resources on the nature of Parliamentary Sovereignty. It may help you to look also at Erskine May (available online here).
This is disingenuous. I am asking for details of persons responsible and process. It is an attempt to mislead or misdirect. Do you have a feeling they have something to hide?
If you remain dissatisfied, you may appeal to the Information Commissioner at Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF, www.ico.gov.uk.
Which I will do, since the official process has to be exhausted before I take this up with other stakeholders. Tedious, but there you go.
Head of the Governance Office
Well, at least someone with a name answered me, which is better than Durham County Council does.
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