Why Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg shouldn't be scared of men in tights

A meeting of the DCMS committee empty-chairing Mark Zuckerberg Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A meeting of the DCMS committee empty-chairing Mark Zuckerberg

If a man in tights comes to your door and demands that you hand over private documents or come to Parliament, do you need to comply?

That is an issue raised this week by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, who sent a parliamentary official to a hotel in London to inform an American businessman that he was obliged to supply them confidential documents.

The Observer reported that the committee "invoked a rare parliamentary mechanism to compel the founder of a US software company, Six4Three, to hand over the documents during a business trip to London... He was told he risked fines and even imprisonment if he didn't hand over the documents."

These files were contentious: in fact, the company had been barred from publishing them by a court in the US. But he gave them over.

The documents related to Facebook, a company whose founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has - by contrast - ignored repeated requests to appear before the committee.

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Brexit: Why markets may not bail out the PM's deal

  • 22 November 2018
  • From the section Business
Ben Bernanke, George W. Bush, Hank Paulson and Christopher Cox address the US in the week after the collapse of Lehman Brothers Image copyright Getty Images

Financial markets have had a rather bad Brexit. They have taken solace in the wrong things and freaked out at ephemera. But there is a lot of talk at the moment that their conniptions might help make sure Parliament passes Theresa May's withdrawal agreement.

This is known as the 'Tarp' scenario - a reference to the US government's so-called Troubled Asset Relief Programme.

Read full article Brexit: Why markets may not bail out the PM's deal

Westminster: Chief Commons clerk Sir David Natzler retires

Sir David Naztler Image copyright Houses of Parliament
Image caption Sir David Natzler was the top clerk

Eight months after our initial report into bullying and harassment, the clerk of the House of Commons has announced he will stand down.

Sir David Natzler was expected to retire soon anyway; he is not being forced out. But his is the first - and, so far, only - departure from the House of Commons of any of the principals involved in the issue.

Read full article Westminster: Chief Commons clerk Sir David Natzler retires

How John Bercow keeps Keith Vaz's secrets

Keith Vaz MP Image copyright UK Parliament
Image caption Keith Vaz MP has denied allegations of misbehaviour

In the 17th century, England had a problem with laws on sedition. MPs could not speak freely about the king's policies for fear of judges. To solve that problem, we adopted a special guard against tyranny: "parliamentary privilege". Now, John Bercow, speaker of the House of Commons, has invoked it to stop Newsnight getting information about the behaviour of the MP Keith Vaz.

Readers may recall that we have reported extensively on how Mr Vaz's behaviour on committee trips abroad, paid for by the taxpayer, were the scene for some allegations of not following the rules of the House and bullying towards staff.

Read full article How John Bercow keeps Keith Vaz's secrets

Budget 2018: Why schools need more than 'little extras'

Philip Hammond, the chancellor, holds his red box Image copyright PA
Image caption Philip Hammond, the chancellor, holds his red box

Philip Hammond managed something pretty impressive this week; he gave schools an extra £400m while irritating them deeply.

This remarkable achievement came about because he said the money was for "little extras" that schools might need. He appears to have misread the mood in staffrooms.

Read full article Budget 2018: Why schools need more than 'little extras'

Minister's off-the-wall art choice

Samuel and Nathaniel Buck - South West Prospect of Ipswich (1741) Image copyright Alamy
Image caption Samuel and Nathaniel Buck - South West Prospect of Ipswich (1741)

One perk of office is that ministers in the government get to choose art from the Government Art Collection's 14,000-item collection to furnish their offices.

Ministerial choices are often deeply personal, reflecting the particular interests of the officeholder. In one case, however, the decoration of an office raised pointed questions about gender and government.

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Westminster bullying: A 'conflicted' commission

  • 23 October 2018
  • From the section UK
Commission members

Will MPs finally get held to account if they mistreat staff? After the publication of the Dame Laura Cox review, what happens now?

Last week, this report gave us a blueprint for how MPs should be judged and punished if they bully or harass people working for the House of Commons.

Read full article Westminster bullying: A 'conflicted' commission

Commons abuse: Dame Laura Cox's lightning strike

The Houses of Parliament Image copyright Getty Images

The new system for dealing with misbehaviour by MPs is not good enough and the culture and management must change - the verdict from Dame Laura Cox, who was asked to look at how the House of Commons deals with bullying and sexual harassment, following Newsnight's reporting on the subject.

I suspect they were not expecting what they got. This report, a response to the reports that Lucinda Day and I published in March, is uncompromising.

Read full article Commons abuse: Dame Laura Cox's lightning strike

States, debt, nationalisation and money

Looking over a fence at a large house Image copyright Press Association

Imagine you got a bargain. You bought a £1m house for £100,000. And imagine you get a great deal on the mortgage. It's only a tiny portion of your disposable income. Anyone hearing that would think you'd done well.

Anyone except an official from a finance ministry.

Read full article States, debt, nationalisation and money

Mea culpa

I am not, it transpires, infallible. This week, I made a mistake. On Monday, I published a blog post about the IEA's economic modelling.

I am not writing this because of any lawyerly letters. And I am certainly no convert to their maths, but rather than arguing about corrections to an article, I have asked the BBC to withdraw it.

Read full article Mea culpa