Another Conservative MP has responded to his constituent’s letter regarding the government’s abuse of statistics, which the UK Statistics Authority has unequivocally highlighted. This one – from a minister, no less – is remarkable, and strikingly different to the first two replies, from Rory Stewart and Justin Tomlinson.
This reply is from Mark Lancaster, Tory MP for Milton Keynes North – ‘Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury’ (a ministerial position) and still a serving member of the armed forces. Maybe it’s his army training, but this response has a completely different feel – and I respect its brevity and directness at least:
Thank you for your email and apologise for not getting round to responding immediately to it.
Unfortunately because I am a Minister I am unable to raise questions in the house, so will be unable to adhere to your third request but let me try and tackle one and two.
Firstly, I agree with you that the misuse of statistics to mislead the House and electorate is not acceptable and should never be acceptable. Secondly I will certainly raise the issue on your behalf with the Rt Honourable Theresa May MP.
I hope this has reassured you that your concerns are being listened to and as your MP I am always happy to work on your behalf.
Polite, apologetic for not responding even sooner, and seemingly straight to the point. Abusing stats to mislead the House is wrong, he will take it up with a senior colleagues, and explains why he can’t raise it as a question.
Of course, he doesn’t acknowledge that Cameron, Smith et al actually did mislead the House or even abuse statistics, but he doesn’t contest it either, and no mealy-mouthed excuses or weasel-worded diversionary tactics.
I’m a little troubled about why he would refer it to Theresa May, the Home Secretary, but perhaps that’s my lack of knowledge of procedure.
I don’t have detailed information about his voting record in Parliament, but according to the timeline on his website, he played a key role in campaigning against the use of cluster bombs, is a keen supporter of credit unions and campaigned on the issue of ‘houses of multiple occupancy’ after an immigrant woman and her daughter died in a house fire.
I’m seriously tempted to add this to my ‘credit where it’s due’ series – unless anyone can provide an insight to show why not. It might just be that there’s one more decent Conservative MP than I previously knew about.
I hope so. It would still beg the question as to what he’s doing in the bandit party, of course. But it would be nice to be surprised.