Press refused right to MPs' addresses - Press Gazette

Press refused right to MPs' addresses

MPs have instructed officials not to disclose to journalists how much, or how little, they spend on burglar alarms – to avoid being burgled.

If such a list was public, they say it would quickly become apparent which MPs had no security and therefore a sitting target.

Journalists using the FoI law will also be denied information about where MPs live. The ban will apply not just to the home for which the MP has sought a Parliamentary allowance, but to all of his or her homes.

MPs say the crackdown – which also applies to peers and members of the Welsh Assembly – is necessary not just for security, but to avoid the danger of their families being harassed.

The Commons approved the Freedom of Information (Parliament and National Assembly for Wales) Order 2008 just before MPs adjourned for their 11-week summer break.

The move follows the successful battle by FoI campaigners to force Parliament to disclose more detailed data about expenses than MPs wanted.

But one outcome was that MPs’ addresses would have had to be disclosed, a loophole now closed.

The ban also applies to MPs’ travel plans or identifying any person who has delivered goods or provided services to an MP’s home.

Commons leader Harriet Harman said the overwhelming majority of information would remain subject to FoI and would be published.

But she said:’If the authorities were to be obliged by law to publish our addresses and our travel plans, a controversial speech might lead to harassment at home.”

However, Labour MP for North West Leicestershire David Taylor said: ‘People have the right to know that MPs live in their constituency. Like many MPs, I am in the phone book and I welcome constituents who turn up at my address, if they wish to do that.”