A Leicestershire MP has expressed his anger about an academic study which he says has wasted taxpayer cash at a time when resources were desperately needed to help constituents. MP’s from across the political divide have hit out at the poorly timed exercise, which received criticism from the Deputy Speaker of the House in the Chamber this week.
Dr Luke Evans, the Member of Parliament for Bosworth, has lambasted Kings College London for undertaking research into ‘The responsiveness of MPs to citizen-initiated policy-related inquiries’ in late 2020 at a time when his office was inundated with calls for support due to changing tier arrangements.
Dr Luke said “It has now been discovered that Kings College have been sending hundreds of emails from fake constituents, trying to find out how I and my staff respond to them.
“During Coronavirus I have been contacted thousands of times by local people in desperate need of help. The workload for the team has been 300% above normal times, and my team and I do our best to deal with issues raised. Frankly we don’t have time to waste on ‘academic’ exercises in the midst of a pandemic, when lives and livelihoods have been lost.
“It makes me very angry, across the UK thousands of pounds worth of staff hours will have been wasted at a time when my constituents desperately needed help, I feel it is akin to sending fake patients in to A&E at the time of a crisis, you just wouldn’t do it!
“My team and I are here to help local people, and I always urge them to contact us if they need help. This isn’t about hiding from scrutiny, if the University had simply asked to see how my office is coping I would have been glad to show them the stresses on my staff. It seems to me that KCL have come completely detached from the real world where people are hurting. I hope they reflect on the wasted time they have created for all MPs and apologise.”
Dame Eleanor Laing, Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons said during a point of order in the chamber “it is hard to see how any responsible researcher could have thought that sending more than 1,000 spoof emails that added to this workload was a good idea; how any responsible ethics committee could have approved it; or how any responsible body could have decided to fund it.”