Is nobody else utterly sick of this?
After humming and hawing for almost a month about how he was to provide the Brexit impact assessments to members of Parliament, DExEU minister Robin Walker grudgingly handed over a single paper copy of more than 800 pages of information to the Commons Brexit Committee on November 27 – more than three weeks after he was initially ordered to hand over the information.
MPs responded with renewed threats to hold the government in contempt of Parliament – so now Mr Walker has come out with another lame offer.
He is going to make the information available in a ‘reading room’, for a limited period during days in which Parliament is sitting.
Here’s his letter to MPs:
DExEU has set up a reading room for MPs to see the impact assessments. "We recognise the benefits of parliamentary scrutiny" pic.twitter.com/6KAYCRCRM5
— Henry Zeffman (@hzeffman) December 4, 2017
The relevant parts state:
“As Lord Callanan and I have respectively told both Houses, and in response to the House of Commons motion of 1 November, we are writing to confirm the Government has made a reading room available in 100 Parliament Street from today, Monday 4 December.
“The reading room will allow Members and Peers to have access to the sectoral reports that were submitted to the Commons Committee on Exiting the EU and Lords EU Committee, on Monday 27 November. The reading room is available for the use of Members of both Houses only; it will not be accessible to Members’ staff.
“Members of both Houses of Parliament are invited to arrange a time to read the documents at 100 Parliament Street. The room will be open on days either House is sitting from 10:00 to 13:00 and 14:00 to 17:00. Appointments can be booked for one hour slots, but Members are welcome to book multiple hours back-to-back, or on separate visits. The room is limited to eight Members or Peers at one time and we strongly encourage all Members to make an appointment in advance as entry to the room unfortunately cannot be guaranteed without an appointment.”
Brexit challenger Gina Miller raises the obvious points:
So what's the point of being able to read the Brexit Papers if none of the content can be discussed? They were paid for with taxes so why can't we know what's in them? 800 pages, 6 hrs a day access, 8 spaces, 650 MPs + 800 Peers – will be post 29 Mar 2019 before they're read! https://t.co/BMZ4XxQDBB
— Gina Miller (@thatginamiller) December 5, 2017
Long after March 29, 2019, in fact – let’s remember that the reading room is only available on days when Parliament is sitting and MPs and Lords have other duties.
This is a derisory dismissal of the will of Parliament by the DExEU, a department that has come under increasing pressure since the motion for the impact assessments to be published was first passed – most particularly in its failure to reach agreement with the EU27 on important issues including the Northern Ireland border before the deadline this week.
And it leads to the obvious question:
Where are the complaints to Commons Speaker John Bercow that the government is treating Parliament with contempt?
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