The accusation that Ms Mills’ department used CCTV footage to breach parliamentary privilege was raised by MPs on the panel but they were told there wasn’t time to go into it and that it wasn’t relevant. If John Bercow endorsed that view, or was the source of it, he may find himself carried by an uncontrollable stream of events. That would count as lying to colleagues.
In the meantime, it’s reported he has offered a compromise – to split the role of Clerk into two, hiving off the chief executive function so that Carol Mills can credibly fill the position. But that’s not a compromise, or retreat or backdown. It’s what he wanted all along. It’s Plan A.
An outside chief executive with no prior loyalties and no experience of the difficult environment of Westminster answering only to him. With a £2 billion parliamentary renovation project coming up, this is one of the big appointments of the decade. If the new role doesn’t require clerking experience or procedural knowledge it should be re-advertised. The pool of potential candidates will be very much larger than the one from which Carol Mills was mysteriously fished. If the role is split, the selection process should start again.
This week 101,493 visitors visited 299,519 times viewing 480,267 pages. The top stories in order of popularity were:
You’re either in front of Guido, or behind…
“She may not be much of a clerk, as she knows nothing about procedure, but I’m happy to accept the panel’s assessment that she’s a first rate chief executive.”
That’s what generous people say about the clerical candidate Carol Mills.
But what evidence is there that she is this high-calibre, fair-minded apostle of the Nolan Principles of Public Life?
An admission she made in a committee hearing in May this year caused an astonished senator to call for, and to be granted, an emergency debate in the Senate followed by an Inquiry (yet to report).
President of the Senate John Hogg described Ms Mills’ admission as “a very serious matter”, saying:
“It is fundamental to the law of parliamentary privilege that any act that has the effect or tendency of constituting improper interference with the free performance by a senator of the senator’s duties as a senator may be treated as a contempt.”
The maximum sentence for contempt includes six months in jail.
Carol Mills took over Canberra’s dysfunctional Department of Parliamentary Services in 2012. Whistleblowers were still releasing information to Senator Faulkner two years later.
Ms Mills’ management response had a dash of Stasi in it: she monitored the comings and goings of the senator’s office by the use of CCTV.
Second, and separately, there is an inquiry – unanimously agreed and sponsored by all parties and Independents in the Senate – into the performance of Ms Mills’ DPS.
This is not a routine appraisal.
The terms of reference are very wide-ranging and will scrutinise every level of this riven department – still considered by some to be the worst-administered department in the Commonwealth, even after two years of Ms Mills ‘ world-class leadership.
Guido repeats the question asked before. Was the panel of selection informed of these inquiries? Was the seriousness of the charges revealed? And if so, what was the panel thinking?
The Clerk is the highest guarantor of parliamentary privilege – they had sitting in front of them someone being investigated for breaching it.
Were they told? And if not , why not?
UPDATE: Looks like we will be getting some movement:
To be clear: if the champion of Parliament does not give Parliament a say on Ms Mills' appointment, I will table a motion on this on Sept 1.—
Jesse Norman (@Jesse_Norman) August 22, 2014
Meanwhile government sentiment seems to be hardening: “Discontent rising,” says one source. “Consulting parliament was supposed to be his USP in the role, after all.”
Westminster Public Affairs have done their annual Twitter tot up. When they’re not on holiday, the 461 MPs online sent a total of 718,431 tweets in the last year. “Over this twelve-month period MPs spent a combined total of over 115 days (or more than 2774 hours) sending Tweets.” That’s an awful lot of time wasting…
So who are the biggest blabbermouths?
Well apparently George Galloway – who recently described being an MP as tedious – comes out on top with 16,399 tweets.
The top-Tweeting Conservative MP is Michael Fabricant with 11,311 tweets – some of them costing him a job as the Vice-Chairman of the party.
Shouty-crackers Karl ‘anger management’ Turner is seemingly as much of a gobsh*te online as he in Parliament and on trains, topping iLabour with 12,577.
While Tim Farron’s campaign to convince everyone he is a thoroughly nice bloke, while simultaneously knifing his leader, sees him top the LibDems with 14,741 Tweets.
Wasting time on the internet is meant to be Guido’s job.
James Kirkup pitches his script ideas for Clegg: The Movie.
“My name is Nicholas William Peter Clegg, commander of what’s left of the Army of the South West, deputy chair (acting) of the Federal Executive Committee, loyal servant of the true emperor Paddy Aurelius. Father of a murdered party, husband to a murdered campaign for AV. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.”
Casting is underway for the Channel 4 production…
“I was disappointed to read an email reportedly from the clerk of the Senate, one of my peers at the Parliament of Australia, in the media. It would not be appropriate for me to comment further in a personal capacity at this time. As a senior parliamentary officer, I take seriously my responsibilities to promote and uphold the values and code of conduct articulated in the Commonwealth of Australia Parliamentary Service Act 1999.
I take this opportunity to thank the many people in Australia and the United Kingdom, including senior parliamentarians and parliamentary officers, who have supported me in my current role as secretary of the department of parliamentary services (DPS) as well as encouraging me to be considered for the role in the UK parliament.”
Mills said her Department of Parliamentary Services “looks forward to the opportunity to explain to the [privileges] committee the basis of its view that use of the CCTV footage was in fact authorised, and wholly consistent with parliamentary privilege.” Australian politicians have accused Mills of spying on them.
“Until such a time as the committee completes its inquiry and report, it would not be appropriate for DPS to make any public statement on this incident beyond noting that the department does not accept the accuracy of some reports on this matter,” she adds. Even if Mills had all the experience of parliamentary procedure in the world, it would be bizarre to appoint someone with this much baggage.
Chuka Umunna is not the only politico on Ibiza this summer. The Tories have just launched their own Balearic branch of Conservatives Abroad:
“Ibiza is renowned for attracting the world’s party people and last week was no exception as Conservatives Abroad launched its latest new branch – Conservatives Abroad Ibiza. Overlooking the secluded bay of Porroig, residents and visitors mingled in the beautiful home and gardens of Charlie and Louise Bracken for cocktails and canapes, generously sponsored by Ibiza-Southerbys.”
How long before Ed Vaizey jets out for a fundraiser?
Multiculturalism: At What Price? | Allison Pearson
Labour Failed Those Victims | Labour Uncut
We Cannot Ignore the Race Issue Here | Dan Hodges
74 MPs Who Back Stop Mills Motion | Speccie
Milibande | Ian Birrell
The True Meaning of Political Correctness Gone Mad | Speccie
Nigel, Nigel, Nigel! | Bloomberg
Bercow Blinks | Guardian
Speaker on the Ropes | Indy
Outgoing Clerk Slams Bercow – Row Goes Very Public | BBC
Darling Was Wrong on OBR | Speccie
Shaun Wright’s understatement about the Rotherham child abuse scandal…
“..I could have taken more action and probably dealt with this issue better.”
Owen Jones says:
We also need Zil lanes.