Monday, March 29, 2010

Do MPs really get to edit Hansard?

I hope this is one of John Rentoul’s ‘questions to which the answer is no’, but he suggests it isn’t.

In his column yesterday, Rentoul gave a curious aside on Cameron’s Budget response in Parliament:

He also mocked Liam Byrne, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, whose memo setting out the precise duties of his civil servants was leaked a while ago: "Get him an espresso or there'll be trouble." Oddly, Cameron's staff edited that line from the Commons official record, possibly because it was a personal attack, but left in his description of Byrne as "Baldemort", which is more personal.

True. Hansard records the Baldemort crack but not the espresso one, which appears in this fuller transcript at PoliticsHome.

So, it looks as though MPs do have some editorial influence over what goes in the official Hansard record of what they say in Parliament. Never mind why Cameron wanted one thing cut but not the other; why is this allowed at all?


Chris said...

They're meant to leave out nothing 'that adds to the meaning of the speech or illustrates
the argument'. So basically David Cameron has a free hand.

Anonymous said...

My brother works for Hansard. The reporters get in to trouble if they report the truth. Remember the "bollocks" / "trollocks" incident. Everyone heard him say bollocks on the news but Hansard reported it as trollocks and a reporter got a bollocking for putting out the original.

Andrew said...

I asked a HoC librarian friend about this last night. She says nothing can be omitted other than totally irrelevant personal insults or swearing - or what passes for swearing in the chamber, anyway.

I remember hearing the espresso live, and it's definitely not in Hansard, so maybe it falls under the former category. My friend wasn't impressed it had gone away - the whole point of Hansard is to provide a record, after all.