Yesterday I wrote to my MP, Andy Slaughter, to ask him to sign Ann Clwyd’s early day motion 1624 on the treatment of Bradley Manning. Today I received this response:
Dear Matthew Butt,
Thank you for contacting me regarding this issue. This situation has only recently been brought to my attention, and I am shocked to hear about what has been taking place.
As a shadow minister I am unable to sign EDMs, however I will write to the Foreign Secretary to raise your concerns, and to ask what, if any steps, the UK Government is taking to prevent any further torture from taking place.
In the meantime, if you would like to raise any further issue with me, please don’t hesitate to do so.
Labour MP for Hammersmith
I am thrilled to have received such a quick response, although sorry that he will not be adding his signature to Ann Clwyd’s EDM. I have responded to him as follows:
Dear Mr Slaughter,
Thank you for your very speedy response to my email, and for expressing your shock at Bradley’s treatment.
I am sorry to hear that parliamentary protocol prevents you from signing Ann Clwyd’s EDM, and very much appreciate your undertaking to write to the Foreign Secretary about this issue; I would be very interested to read a copy of your letter, and any response you might receive, as it would be greatly reassuring to all of us concerned with this case to know that it is being given proper consideration.
Could I also urge you to encourage your parliamentary colleagues to sign the EDM, and to give this shameful situation the exposure it needs.
It is worth noting that Parliament’s own website has this to say about EDMs:
The following people in Parliament normally will not sign EDMs:
- Ministers and government whips
- Parliamentary Private Secretaries
- The Speaker and his deputies
In other words, there is no mention of shadow ministers not signing, and indeed it appears that the practice of ministers not signing EDMs is custom rather than rule; perhaps someone with better knowledge of parliamentary procedure can enlighten me whether Andy is abiding by protocol or fobbing me off.
I will of course report back if I hear any more.