Tuesday 20 December 2016

Delhi: Smoggy City, Foggy Minds

Our esteemed mascot asked an interesting parliamentary question recently, which was answered on December 1st.
Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley 
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, whether the officials from his Department who attended the seventh conference of the Parties of World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control met with representatives of the Group Action on Smoking and Health during that conference. 
Nicola Blackwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health 
Officials met with a range of public health stakeholders on 12 October 2016 before attending the Conference of the Parties of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Deborah Arnott the Chief Executive of Action on Smoking and Health, attended that meeting. No further meetings were scheduled or held before or during the conference.
I thought that quite strange at the time because, as regular readers will know, I was there and I heard differently. My understanding was that they did indeed hold regular meetings, just in bars and restaurants instead of a sterile room, but meetings during the conference nonetheless.

It seemed to be confirmed by someone who was staying in the same hotel for the duration.

It's clear they were gabbing away constantly while there, after all Deborah Arnott is part of the Department of Health team (though conveniently exempted from FOI requests despite being state-funded) so why wouldn't they?

Strange then, that via inquisitive fellow jewel robber AT we find that no-one at the Department of Health has any recollection of these meetings!

Now, just to remind you, Andrew Black and Alette Addison work in the Department of Health. Could the FOI team not have just asked them? I take it they have telephones these days, or maybe they could have emailed seeing as they had around three weeks to give a reply. Too lazy perhaps?

There is another explanation of course. Perhaps they were all too pissed on Kingfisher beer and local plonk to remember. I suppose it would make the wording of the DoH response technically correct.

Delhi was in the middle of an unprecedented public health crisis brought on by record levels of smog; maybe there were also a few foggy and delicate minds the day after all these meetings, eh? The expenses claims would be interesting to see I reckon.

However, all we know currently is that the meetings occurred and no-one - from the Under-Secretary of State right down to humble DoH grunts - wants to admit that they did. Fancy that!

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