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« Myles Allen on Climategate | Main | The despair of energy policy »

Lying to Parliament

The news yesterday was that some of Rupert Murdoch's minions in News International are to be investigated by the House of Commons Standards and Privileges Committee.

The Commons agreed without a vote to refer the phone-hacking report's conclusions to the Standards and Privileges Committee, which has the power to recommend sanctions against the trio and News International.

Although there is the possibility of the three men being summoned to the Commons for a public dressing-down, Labour MP Chris Bryant said the Standards and Privileges Committee should also consider fines or imprisonment as possible penalties.

The Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, which was responsible for referring the case seems to be up in arms about being lied to. Committee chairman John Whittingdale is quoted as saying that the misleading of a parliamentary committee should "bear profound consequences". Amen to that.

The parallels with the Science and Technology Committee's investigation of Climategate and the "independent" inquiries are obvious. Strange then that the SciTech committee would have taken such a relaxed approach to being lied to and misled.

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Reader Comments (11)

You cannot expect the mainstream media to notice the parallels between the two cases. The Murdoch case allows other people in the press and broadcasting to do down their biggest rival. The investigations into Climategate do not affect the business interests of anyone in the media except possibly in so far as their pension funds are invested in companies having a connection with energy.

May 23, 2012 at 8:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

"Strange then that the SciTech committee would have taken such a relaxed approach to being lied to and misled." - it's obvious when you think about it - those making the noise, eg Underpants Bryant and Prescott, have been ridiculed by the press. Climate change has to get a lot more personal before there'll be a similar reaction there. My own MP just files my missives in "too difficult", I'm sure.

May 23, 2012 at 8:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterIan_UK

What do you expect from politicians? If they thought there was political capital to be made from using the same standards against climate scientists that have lied they would be doing exactly what they are trying to do against News International.

Labours grubby little hands are all over both of these problems.


May 23, 2012 at 10:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

Ah, Bish. You forget the golden rule, for politicians a lie is not a lie if it supports your preconceptions, prejudice, view point or the desired/required outcome.

May 23, 2012 at 10:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter C

As discussed in previous threads on this topic - the problem they have is that of applying sanctions to the public that they do not apply to their own members when they are caught out lying.

May 23, 2012 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered Commenterjohanna

Received this from my MP (not as part of SCEF)

Dear Mike,

Thank you very much for your email of 8 May, and for copying me into your emails to the Speaker of the House of Commons, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee and your MSP.

Dr McGinness has suggested that you contact the UK Research Integrity Office which doesn’t just look at the science of research, but will deal with the conduct of those carrying out research.

The Committee’s report into the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia concluded that ‘the balance of evidence is that they (the CRU) was not part of a systematic attempt to mislead’.

It is for the Science and Technology Committee to decide whether it feels Parliament was misled. Dr McGinness, in his email to you, explains that the Committee continues to be interested in the activities of the CRU, but it is not undertaking an investigation. The Science and Technology Committee is a robust committee which would be more than able to recall and investigate any evidence which it concluded had attempted to mislead MPs. However, in this case, it’s clear that the Committee does not feel this way.

As you know, I’ve written to the Energy and Climate Change Secretary about the preparedness for another Maunder Minimum and the research into Maunder Minimums and I will of course pass this on when I have it.

As my office explained to you on the telephone last week, I’d be more than happy to speak to you about this at one of my surgeries. Details of these can be found at

Many thanks again and if I can be of further assistance on this or any other matter, please feel free to get back in touch.

Yours sincerely,
Jo Swinson MP

May 23, 2012 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterScottish Sceptic

Also the current way Ed Davey has lied to Parliament about how the leding companies in the shale gas industry had allegedly told him & Cameron that they had lied about the amount of gas and pleaded for more regulation to stop them developing it. Turns out they had refused to even invite the leading company, & presumably most of the rest, to even talk to them.

It appear lying to Parliament is only improper when it is a subject on which Parliament are not already liars.

May 23, 2012 at 11:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Craig

Last year the Science and Technology Committee of the House of 'Lords' published a report into ‘Behaviour Change‘. Chapter 7 included a case study about reducing car use.

The introduction to this section is revealing:

“Greenhouse gas emissions from transport represent 21% of the total United Kingdom domestic emissions. Emissions from private car use constitute 78% of that figure, representing 17% of total emissions or 91.5 million tonnes of CO2 in 2008. Although technological measures are important in reducing emissions, it is argued they are unlikely to be sufficient to achieve the necessary reduction in carbon emissions in the short term. A significant reduction in car use is also needed.”

The conclusion:

“We are not clear about the extent to which Government intend to reduce carbon emissions by reducing car use but, if they hope to achieve a significant reduction, the evidence suggests that regulatory and fiscal disincentives to car use will be required.

“We recommend that the Government (a) establish and publish targets for a reduction in carbon emissions as a result of a reduction in car use; (b) publish an estimate of the percentage reduction in emissions which will be achieved through reducing car use and the timescale for its achievement; and (c) set out details of the steps they will take if this percentage reduction is not achieved by this time.”

Two of the recommendations were:

-The Government must invest in gathering more evidence about what measures work to influence population behaviour change
-They should appoint an independent Chief Social Scientist to provide them with robust and independent scientific advice

Baroness Neuberger who is Chair of the Committee speaking about changing people’s behaviour said:

“But focusing on how we can change a whole nation’s behaviour, has become an increasingly pressing issue as governments realise that societal problems, like the need to reduce obesity and reduce carbon emissions, aren’t going away - and are even getting worse. We welcome this Government’s desire to take the science behind behaviour change seriously in an attempt to find an effective solution.”

May 23, 2012 at 12:59 PM | Unregistered Commentermfo

I await a reply from my MP after drawing his attention to the Yamal deception and suggesting that he also alerts Mr Stringer to what has occurred. I am now curious to discover if the reply I get is similar the that given to Scottish Sceptic (above).

May 23, 2012 at 1:11 PM | Unregistered Commenteroldtimer

oldtimer ... I would not be surprised if the replies are not drafted by wind lobbyists and handed to MPs! Seriously. Wind lobbyists used to be as close as special advisors!

May 23, 2012 at 1:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterScottish Sceptic

Those who will see and have their own way, will not see your point.

Why the Climate Debate Is Over, and Why Both Sides Continue to Debate Anyway

May 23, 2012 at 2:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Dale Huffman

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