Anne Milton: where are my answers?

Posted by Tim Ireland at 19 February 2008

Category: Anne Milton

This entry was posted on
Tuesday, February 19th, 2008
at
1:05 pm and is filed
under Anne Milton.

After discovering that my Conservative MP Anne Milton had paid her husband £13,000 of taxpayer’s money since coming to office, I sent her a series of questions.

Given what Anne Milton published on her website the day before the article referenced above appeared in our local newspaper, I considered it quite reasonable to expect some answers…. but it wasn’t until after I got in touch with David Cameron that I received the following single answer to all five of the questions submitted:

“I believed it was vital to answer all media enquiries because clarity and openness is crucial to trust and confidence in the democratic process.” – Anne Milton

This exact same answer was sent to ‘Scotch’ (a fellow constituent who contributes to Bloggerheads via comments) who had independently submitted some questions of his own.

So what I’m going to do today is take that answer and see how (or indeed if) it delivers against each question that I submitted….

[Psst! One thing to keep in mind throughout is that Anne Milton has stated that Dr Graham Henderson is no longer an employee, but a volunteer. She told the Surrey Advertiser that; “In the last year, my husband has worked for me and he has not been paid for it.” So this answer might not even relate to any question(s) relating to Dr Graham Henderson, as it could be interpreted as referring to “the staff I employ” (i.e. currently) as opposed to “the staff I have employed” (i.e. historically). Nevertheless, we shall try to press on in the face of this uncertainty and – in good faith – assume that Anne Milton is consistent on this issue. The phrase “the staff I employ” will be taken as an indication of Anne Milton’s past and present stance on employment.]

Q1. Where did Dr Graham Henderson carry out this work you describe? In your parliamentary office, your constituency office, from home…?

A: “I would like to assure you that all the staff I employ work extremely hard to ensure that I give my constituents the best service possible.”

If the question were in any way loaded, it would have presented a fourth possible option; during the tax year for 2005-2006, Dr Graham Henderson was Director of Public Health for the East Surrey PCT, but I did not ask if he did work for his wife’s office from his office.

This is a fair and straightforward question that presents likely options that I would regard to be fair, especially given that Anne Milton clearly stated that she did not even have an office for her first six weeks as MP.

Regardless of the inclusion of these or other options, I asked specifically where the described work by her husband was conducted, and Anne Milton’s answer does not answer this question.

Why?

Q2. What evidence can you show your constituents of the work you claim was done by Dr Graham Henderson?

A: “I would like to assure you that all the staff I employ work extremely hard to ensure that I give my constituents the best service possible.”

Here, we can be as generous as possible regarding Anne Milton’s assurance, and even take it as a given that all work done by Dr Graham Henderson offered constituents “the best service possible”… but I asked what evidence Anne Milton could show of this service to those same constituents, and Anne Milton’s answer does not answer this question.

Why?

Q3. Was the work you claim was done by Dr Graham Henderson directly connected to the Save the Royal Surrey campaign, and – if so – what proof can you show of this?

A: “I would like to assure you that all the staff I employ work extremely hard to ensure that I give my constituents the best service possible.”

Anne Milton’s past statements would appear to associate some of the work done by her husband to the very popular Save the Royal Surrey campaign. I have asked if he worked on that campaign specifically (and what proof she might be able to show us if this is so), but Anne Milton’s answer does not answer this question.

Why?

Q4. You have said that your husband has done some work in the past year for which he has not been paid. What reassurance can you provide that he won’t be paid retrospectively?

A: “I would like to assure you that all the staff I employ work extremely hard to ensure that I give my constituents the best service possible.”

Again, a fair question. Anne Milton stated in an earlier article that she had in the past paid her husband retrospectively for work he had done. She is then quoted in the article referenced above that – in the current tax year – he had done some work that he had not been paid for. My mind added the word ‘yet’ but – to be fair – I asked for clarification.

Also, this is the only question that actually seeks assurance (as opposed to an answer based on facts/evidence) but Anne’s assurance does not rule out retrospective payment, not even for the current tax year alone.

Why?

Q5. Have any other members of your family been employed in this or any other way by your office?

A: “I would like to assure you that all the staff I employ work extremely hard to ensure that I give my constituents the best service possible.”

Yes, and any number of those staff members (past or present) could be members of Anne Milton’s family.

Anne Milton’s answer does not answer this question.

Why?

David Cameron says I’m right to demand more transparency and openness:

“I believe the public are right to demand more transparency and openness when it comes to MPs staff, pay, allowances and expenses…” – David Cameron

This single answer from Anne Milton does not offer transparency or openness. In fact, it’s downright evasive.

Anne Milton says it’s important (and urgent) that she and other MPs work to regain public trust via the use of clarity and openness:

“I believed it was vital to answer all media enquiries because clarity and openness is crucial to trust and confidence in the democratic process… We must regain public trust in not only MPs but in all politicians and if we are to safeguard our democracy, the urgency for this cannot be underestimated.” – Anne Milton

This single answer from Anne Milton does not offer clarity or openness. In fact, it’s so vague an answer (and it took so long to get it) that I’m beginning to think she didn’t really mean any of the above.

In fact, the longer it takes me to get answers to my questions, the further my trust and confidence in Anne Milton – and the democratic process – will be undermined.

David Cameron says I deserve to ask questions. Anne Milton says I deserve answers.

So where are my answers, and why does it seem so very, very hard just to get my MP to acknowledge my questions?








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