There was a little flurry of interest last year as to whether MPs with “MP” in their Twitter name would face a problem after Parliament is officially dissolved for the general election. That’s because after that point technically no-one is an MP and you’re not allowed to call yourself an MP if you aren’t one. That story was rather over-played though it did spur me to dig out quite what the sanctions would be, which in turns out isn’t that simple a question to answer.
But what about MPs’ websites and text on them saying they are an MP? That is potentially more significant than having “MP” in a Twitter username and it’s an issue MPs have had to address for several elections now. There is also the complication for MPs that some have their websites paid for by Parliamentary expenses.
Here are the rules which will be in force this time around – and note that, in this respect at least (not mentioning, cough, YouTube, cough) the Parliamentary authorities have got pretty sensible, up to date rules:
2.10 All Members’ websites must bear a clear disclaimer throughout the dissolution period which makes it clear that the website was established while you were a Member of Parliament and that you are, until re-elected, no longer a Member of Parliament. The disclaimer should read:
“This website was established while I was a Member of Parliament. As Parliament has been dissolved there are no Members of Parliament until after the election on XX XXX 2010”.
Websites funded from Communications Expenditure
2.11 Any website funded by the Communications Expenditure must be frozen and no new content added except the disclaimer, contact details and/or a link to an alternative web site. Domain names and email addresses referring to you as an MP
2.12 No one can use the title MP during dissolution and you should not use a website or an email address during dissolution if it suggests you are currently an MP. Any website that contains a URL referring to you as an MP (e.g. johnpeekmp.co.uk) should be frozen. This means the website may remain online, but that no new content should be added except the disclaimer, contact details and/or a link to an alternative web site.