I have been trying to engage in parliamentary democracy and correspondence with Frank Roy, MP for Motherwell and Wishaw constituency and Government Whip. The lazy bastard has only replied once and even then it was only because I threatened to deliver my concerns personally.

The first email I sent to him was as follows…

28th September 2009
Dear Frank Roy,

I trust that you will do all in your power on my behalf to oppose the increase in the Civil List payment.

It’s not just the civil list that costs taxpayers money…
In total the monarchy cost us over £180m last year. Here’s how:

The Queen’s Civil List    £12.7m
Parliamentary annuities (Prince Philip)     £0.4m
Palaces and castles    £15m
Travel    £6.2m
Expenditure met by gov. debts    £4.9m
Security    £100m
Duchy of Cornwall lost revenue    £16m
Duchy of Lancaster lost revenue     £13m
Costs to councils    £10m
Unpaid tax    £2m (?)
Travel and accommodation for Prince Charles    £3m
Total    £183.2m

It appears that due to the 1972 Civil List Act, parliament is unable to vote on decreasing the amount of taxpayers’ money that goes directly to the royals. MPs can currently only vote to increase it or leave it the same – and it seems that heavy lobbying from the palace has persuaded Treasury officials to opt for the former.

You are probably aware but let’s be quite clear about the amount of money the monarchy currently costs us. The Civil List is just the start. There’s also security costs, costs to council tax payers for royal visits, unpaid tax and lost revenue from the Duchies.

All this comes to around £183m a year,    equivalent to 10,726 new nurses, 3,660 new GPs or 18 new schools. With politicians now talking of “savage” and “painful” cuts in public spending, it is a disgrace that the royals are likely to get their hands on even more of our money.

Can I have your assurance that you will not vote for an increase in the civil list and do all in your power to allow parliament to reduce the civil list costs.

Yours sincerely,
Martin Dillon

I never received as much as an acknowledgement. I have evidence it was sent because it was sent by a third party. More on that later. Now it’s possible that this email went into his junk box but subsequent events have proven that to be highly unlikely. Now the rights and wrongs of the content of my email is irrelevant unless you think it’s frivolous but I wouldn’t call £183m per annum frivolous. The above letter was actually sent twice due to a double click or some such other bloomer but the records show it was indeed sent twice.

The next one I sent was to do with Early Day Motion 83 and went as follows…

25 November 2009
Dear Frank Roy,

I am writing to remind you of your obligations as a democratic MP, a Labour one at that, and ask that you do not forget to sign Early Day
Motion 83 which calls for the royal exemption from the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act to be removed.

In case you have not seen it, I have quoted it for you…
“EDM 83

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION LEGISLATION AND ROYAL HOUSEHOLD
18.11.2009
Jones, Lynne
That this House disagrees with the proposed removal of the public interest test for access through the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to information held by public authorities relating to the Royal Household’s function and activities, and with the blanket ban on accessing Royal documents that would result; and instead supports the removal of the exemption of the Royal Household from the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.”

This government, led by your own party, unless I am very much mistaken, is proposing legislation that will remove the public interest test from requests for disclosure of documents relating to the monarchy and the royal family. The monarchy’s FOI exemption will then become absolute. If they so choose, the royal family can continue to lobby ministers in their own interests and in the interests of others without them ever being made accountable to the public. That’s not right and it is not democratic.

The public is entitled to know, for example, the full extent of Prince Charles’s secret lobbying to ministers on health, architecture, education, and the environment, or the secret lobbying to secure increases to the Civil List payments.

These issues are very much in the public interest and it goes without saying that in a democracy, public interest should never be made secondary to the interests of the Windsor family, or anyone else for that matter, and the government.
I also ask you to pass on these concerns to the Secretary of State for Justice, Jack Straw, and to ask him to review the government’s inappropriate and undemocratic legislation.
I strongly support the proposal laid out in EDM 83 and I think you should support it as well. I notice you haven’t signed EDM 83 yet, unless I’m mistaken and in that case, I apologise. However, If I am right and you have not signed it yet, I urge you to do so.

Yours sincerely,

Martin Dillon

Now there is something I never realised about Early Day Motions. The reason I didn’t know it is because it’s not made clear anywhere and besides, I never even knew it was relevant but more on that later.  Suffice it to say,  I never received so much as an acknowledgement even though he later admitted that he did receive it and my records show it was sent – Again by a third party.

So now I’m getting annoyed. I decide to up the ante a wee bit. What harm can it do?  If he’s not getting my correspondence for whatever reason, then I could threaten to kill him without any worries. I never had him down for thick though did I? Anyway, I then sent him another email as follows…

9 December 2009
Dear Frank Roy,
I never received any reply to the following quoted email. Why not?

“I trust that you will do all in your power blah blah… I quote the letter…

blah blah …will not vote for an increase in the civil list and do all in your power to allow parliament to reduce the civil list costs.”

It doesn’t take much time to even acknowledge receipt of an email. Yet you have failed to do even that. One wonders what you pick you’re wages up for?

Yours sincerely,

Martin Dillon

He never acknowledged that one either. The same day I sent the following the same way…

Wednesday 9 December 2009
Dear Frank Roy,

You have repeatedly failed to answer any correspondence I have sent to you via “write to them”, a service that allows mere mortals like me to contact the great, good and pretty people like yourself. If you cannot be bothered to answer or even acknowledge receipt of my correspondence then I ask you, what are your functions as an MP?

If you fail this time I will be forced to come and chap on your door, attend your surgeries and take every opportunity to get a meeting with you, and will continue to do so until I speak to you and drive home my points of concern face to face.

My most recent point of concern, for your benefit, is that you have failed to sign Early Day Motion 83 which asks that the royal household be not exempt from the FOI act.

I quote, “FREEDOM OF INFORMATION LEGISLATION AND ROYAL HOUSEHOLD
18.11.2009

Jones, Lynne

That this House disagrees with the proposed removal of the public interest test for access through the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to information held by public authorities relating to the Royal Household’s function and activities, and with the blanket ban on accessing Royal documents that would result; and instead supports the removal of the exemption of the Royal Household from the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.”

So far, as of Tuesday 8th Dec 2009, 40 of your fellow MPs have signed the motion. It is your duty as a Labour MP, and indeed any MP from other parties, though I’m stuck with you, to do the same for the reasons I outlined in my previous correspondence. Again, for your benefit, I will give you a brief summery of the reasons why it is your duty to sign the motion.

You are a democratically elected MP. You purport to believe in democracy presumably, as you stand in democratic elections, albeit in a Labour monkey suit, and the government plans to make our unelected head of state exempt from scrutiny goes against the very fabric of democracy.

I strongly urge you to sign this motion, and reply to this e-mail. If you don’t at least reply to this email, I will come looking for you.

Yours sincerely,
Martin Dillon

That’s the one! He finally decided he would acknowledge that one. I even got a personal phone call on my mobile from him and he sent me a cheeky letter with Westminster paper and a pack of lies on it. When you lie Mr Roy, you have to have a half decent memory. In the telephone call he denied he had received any other mail. He stated that he only received that email and the original one asking that he sign the EDM. He also stated that he he couldn’t sign the motion because he was a front bench MP and EDMs are for backbench MPs only. He insists that he already sent me a reply to my original letter asking that he sign the EDM. He stated he would “look it out for me”. I cannot yet find anything that precludes front bench MPs from signing an EDM and who better than a Government whip to support one? By convention, front bench MPs don’t normally sign EDMs but that does not mean they can’t have an opinion on them. Anyway, it was news to me he was a front bencher. 😀  The phantom letter is still missing even though he promised he would look it out and send me a copy. Here’s his reply by letter with my reactions to each point he made…

9th December 2009
Dear Mr Dillon,

Further to our telephone conversation earlier today I would like to confirm the following;
Early Day Motions (EDMs) are for the sole use of backbench MPs to ensure parliament is made aware of any issues that backbencher(sic) feel need to be highlighted. As a Government Whip (Minister), I am not allowed by parliamentary procedures to sign EDMs – they are rightly for the sole use of backbench MPs of all parties.

Well I’ve already pointed out that it doesn’t mean you can’t have an opinion on them.

I would also like to confirm that I do not consider myself to be a member of “the great, good and pretty people”. Nor have I ever worn a “Labour monkey suit”.

That’s nice Frank. But what about the EDM? Do agree with it or not?

Please be assured that you are welcome to “come and chap my door”, which presumably means my office door as opposed to the door of my Muirhouse home, and also to visit any of my surgeries in either Bellshill, Motherwell or Wishaw should you feel the need to do so.
The telephone number of my office in Wishaw is 01698 303040. I can also be emailed direct – as opposed to through a private company that I have no responsibility for called “write to them”. My email address is royf@parliament.uk. By emailing me direct, you are also assured of an automatic acknowledgement to your email – no matter its content, offensive or otherwise.

Thanks Frank. I did mean your Muirhouse home as well as your office or anywhere else for that matter. Whatever it takes. Your attempts to pretend you have never heard of “WriteToThem” in our telephone conversation and again hinting that they are news to you in this letter are pathetic. If any MP nowadays says they have not heard of “WriteToThem”, then they are lying – simple as that. I suppose I will have to email you at your given email addy. Since you continue to avoid the points raised by me. I sincerely hope you do make good on your promise and reply to me.

I am sorry you “wonder what I pick my wages up for?” Come the General Election next year, you will have the democratic right to ensure I no longer represent our area in parliament, and thus no longer pick up my wages, by voting for someone else. However, please be assured that I look forward to standing on my own record as an MP and the record of the party I am proud to represent.

Wait a minute Frank! I thought you never got the email in which I said I “wonder what you pick your wages up for?” Oh deary me Frank. That puts a different light on everything. It means that you got the other email but only responded to the more aggressive one, in which I threatened to come and see you in person, so that you wouldn’t have to answer any of the difficult questions posed in the other one. That changes everything Frank. How many other letters did you read and simply choose to ignore because the questions were too difficult?

So I decided I would take him at his word and I sent him an e-mail. This is why I use “WriteToThem” Frank – So that MPs can’t say they never received the emails and I can then tell “WriteToThem” that they ignored my email and it gets recorded. But as requested, I sent him the following…

Sun, December 13, 2009
Dear Mr Roy,

I can now confirm that I have received your reply to my latest e-mail. The other reply that you told me about in our telephone conversation is still missing however. But no matter.

The fact that you are a front bench MP does not absolve you of any responsibility RE the proposed legislation quoted in the EDM. In fact it means that you are in an even better position to support the EDM. In my original e-mail regarding this issue, I asked that you speak to Mr Straw about the proposed Government legislation.

Perhaps instead of dancing round the issue and dissecting my latest email again, you could address the issues raised in the EDM. Do you agree with the EDM or not?

If not then fair enough but I would like to know why not. If you do then could you, as I originally asked, do all in your power to support it?

I am fully aware that you will be standing again in our constituency and please be assured that I will not be breaking my habit of not voting for unionist parties. I note you intend to stand on ‘the record of the party you are proud to represent’ rather than representing the people of Motherwell and Wishaw.

Thanks anyway for your letter and phone call. Though I would have been a lot happier had you replied without me resorting to the language I did in my latest email. Then we could have been debating the issue instead of point scoring. Please do try to understand my frustration at the thought that you were just simply ignoring me. If as you say, you did reply to my emails, then I apologise for my misplaced frustration and indeed anything ‘offensive’ I may have said.

Thank christ I never held my breath or else I would be dead for he has reneged on his promise to answer promptly. I shall send it again with a link to this blog entry. See if that wakes him up…