A non answer to a simple question!

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, for what reason the total budget allocated to housing illegal migrants in hotels is commercial in confidence when that total would not reveal the contract terms of individual suppliers. (86524)

Tabled on: 03 December 2021

Kevin Foster:

The Rt Hon. Gentleman’s question appears to relate to a Freedom of Information (FOI) response. Responses to all FOI requests are handled in line with the legislation, including applying relevant exemptions where applicable.

The answer was submitted on 14 Dec 2021 at 10:31.



This was a question further to a previous Parliamentary Question! It has nothing to do with FOI.


  1. Bryan Harris
    December 14, 2021

    This is exactly how petitions are ‘answered’ – Real answers are avoided, while every possible excuse is provided for why the petition will not be appropriately responded to or discussed in Parliament.

    This attitude of refusing to provide information seems to be a part of the malaise affecting the Westminster bubble, and typical of how my MP responds.

    We can see that the system is breaking down, in far too many ways. It’s not democracy failing us, it is those that seek to hide behind it, while working against us….. and I’m not talk about the decent MPs who are fighting our corner.

    1. Margaret Brandreth-
      December 14, 2021

      Sounds as frustrating as my job. Communication is an art these days , not a necessity.

    2. glen cullen
      December 14, 2021

      You make a good point about the online petitions…..proven to be a waste of time

  2. javelin
    December 14, 2021

    Labour speakers don’t understand the difference between external and internal passports.

    Labour speakers don’t understand the difference between an internal passport and a ticket.


    They don’t know the difference between authoritarianism and capitalism.

  3. Ian Wragg
    December 14, 2021

    In other words. Mind your own business.

  4. Micky Taking
    December 14, 2021

    Unacceptable avoidance of answering a straightforward question.
    It was done like that because they have no idea- it is just pay whatever it takes.
    Budget? – what does that mean?
    Kevin Foster appears to be the person responsible for – Vehicle Noise Limits (Enforcement) Bill 2016-17.

    1. Nottingham Lad Himself
      December 15, 2021

      It is.

      And furthermore the Tories want to deprive the Courts of the power to compel the Government to answer, where their refusal to do so would be unreasonable.

      Think about that.

  5. formula57
    December 14, 2021

    Through Kevin Foster this Government is abusing democracy, eschewing being held accountable, and revealing a contempt for the people and their representatives that is unacceptable.

    This behaviour by the Minister will not be forgotten.

    1. Nottingham Lad Himself
      December 15, 2021

      Parliament is supreme.

      I’m not sure as to the procedure, but it, as an entity, could in principle demand the answer from the Government.

    2. Dennis
      December 15, 2021

      Yes, isn’t this a form of cover up/corruption?

  6. Brian Tomkinson
    December 14, 2021

    They’re treating you with contempt; a consequence of living under an elective dictatorship. Things will get worse unless we act to remove the tyrants.

    1. Oldtimer
      December 14, 2021

      +1 my thoughts too.

    2. rose
      December 14, 2021

      How do you know the Minister knew the answer to the question? He may be kept in the dark as well. A select committee is able to send for civil servants to ask them questions.

  7. glen cullen
    December 14, 2021

    Contempt utter contempt

  8. acorn
    December 14, 2021

    As I wrote in reply to your December 13 post; another excellent Civil Service reply to your question; again, very economical with the truth, using every trick in the Statute book.

    1. jerry
      December 16, 2021

      Try again….without the rational, detail that is now in the public domain anyway. The Civil service is doing nothing today that the Thatcher govt did not have them do in the 1980s.

      PS If our host carries on deleting comments on this his website, for no other reason than he dislikes the comment, perhaps the only way to cut through such a undemocratic wall is to reply via his Twitter account etc?

      Reply I delete comments that make false or unproven allegations against people

      1. jerry
        December 16, 2021

        @JR reply; Nonsense, the facts are now in the public domain! In the case of the govt industrial policy at the time the cabinet papers have now been published by both the NA and a certain ex PM’s own library, as for the other matter, the (uncomfortable but understandable) facts were known at the time – hence why Mrs Thatcher probably wished she has not subsequently appeared on a certain “Election Call” phone-in programme in 1983.

  9. XY
    December 14, 2021

    What is this country coming to when a member of Parliament can’t get a simple answer to a question?

    Serious reform is needed – the question in my mind is how do we get a new party in power? Tories, Labour, Lib Dems, Greens.. all useless in different ways (and in many ways in which they are similar) to provide decent government.

  10. XY
    December 14, 2021

    Oh and you might have pointed out that government bodies don’t have “commercial” interests, so any body contracting with them should realise that information may be made public (such as via a FoI request).

    1. anon
      December 14, 2021

      The commercial in confidence is a clause probably insisted on by the government where as transparency should be the default.

      Non disclosure should be accompanied by the exact and specific clause and a reasoned opinion for that non-disclosure pertinent to the facts. The full facts should be shared with the speaker and 3 law judges who will then decide if the facts should be fully revealed and the minister dismissed.

      You need to start changing things with colleagues so consequences and changes follow.

  11. X-Tory
    December 14, 2021

    A briliantly focused question, SirJohn: simple and to the point – and clearly too difficult to answer honestly so the minister LIED to you saying it related to an FoI request! This is an outrage and deserving of a follow-up question, surely? You have them on the ropes: don’t let them off the hook (if I may be permitted to mix my metaphors!).

    1. Nottingham Lad Himself
      December 15, 2021

      Well, yes, I think that there would be broad support across the House for Sir John’s position and that it should therefore take the appropriate steps.

  12. alan jutson
    December 14, 2021


    After 11 days of waiting, they dream up this excuse.

    They are trying to play you as a fool, thinking you will go away. I am sure you know that, so I hope you will not take this insult as an answer, and will keep on plugging away, until you get the answer that you require and deserve.
    May I thank you for your persistence in keeping on trying to get simple answers, to what are really very simple questions.
    Just goes to show how far standards, honesty and common courtesy in Government has slipped, when they cannot even reply sensibly to their own Party Members of Parliament.

    Quite shameful !

    1. SM
      December 14, 2021


  13. Zorro
    December 14, 2021

    Can the Speaker not intervene to insist that the Minister give a proper reply rather than treating you as if you weren’t an MP and someone just asking for an FOI otherwise where is the accountability to hold the Executive to account? Will they give the same reply to the Select Committee chair if a question is asked there?


  14. Sir Joe Soap
    December 14, 2021

    Quite correct. Deserves a question as to why straightforward questions aren’t answered!
    The only way is out. For this government and it’s co-conspirators in thwarting democracy, Labour and Libdem.

  15. Narrow Shoulders
    December 14, 2021

    The fact they don’t want to give you an answer to such a simple question is worrying in itself.

    Find out who owns hotels among ministers, pass this to a journalist and eventually we may get an answer.

  16. BOF
    December 14, 2021

    This non answer uses the same avoidance techniques as I have personally experienced when when writing to my MP in the past (a different party) so nothing new!

    I have also written to my current MP about tonight’s vote and asked her please not to vote for the measures. I wonder what flannel of an excuse I will get, if I get a reply at all.

    No wonder I will not under any circumstances vote for any party currently in Parliament.

  17. Donna
    December 14, 2021

    Perhaps you, Sir John, are starting to understand why we “the little people” are so frustrated with the obfuscation we get from the Establishment.

    On another subject, it comes to something when a supposed libertarian-Conservative Prime Minister relies on a bunch of Marxists and anti-Semites to get his authoritarian policies through because his own MPs refuse to endorse them.

    1. rose
      December 14, 2021

      Just think, 100 more might have joined the NOs if they weren’t on the payroll.

  18. Rhoddas
    December 14, 2021

    Phew, we can all feel the pressure building. How is it all going to play out? 🤔

  19. Andy
    December 14, 2021

    The answer is £0.

    Illegal migrants are illegal and get nothing.

    Maybe you should correct your question and ask how much asylum seekers are costing.

    A reminder: it is not illegal to arrive by dinghy to claim asylum. The law says so.

    1. Peter2
      December 14, 2021

      You’ve been told this is nonsense many times young Andy.
      Why persist?
      Details of help dingy arrivals and others who immediately on arrival claim asylum are entitled to are on the government website.
      Take a look.
      Educate yourself.
      Stop bring pedantic.

    2. No Longer Anonymous
      December 14, 2021

      Rejected asylum seekers get support.

      It is illegal to force a lifeboat rescue. What makes you think it isn’t ?

    3. Nottingham Lad Himself
      December 15, 2021

      And perhaps the Tory respondent preferred not to make the clarification that you just did for electoral reasons?

    4. Micky Taking
      December 15, 2021

      when fleeing from oppression. Is that how the French behave? Report them to Human Rights violation.

    5. BW
      December 15, 2021

      They are not asylum seekers. They are not refugees. They are economic migrants that have travelled the world to get to the land of milk and honey where everything is free. I have already advised an ex British soldier who is homeless to go to France and come back on a dingy with no documents and amnesia.

    6. Nottingham Lad Himself
      December 16, 2021

      I suppose that if the Minister had answered truthfully, then he would have simply paraphrased your post here Andy, and thereby exploded a central myth on which the populist Right – such as Sir John’s followers – depend.

  20. beresford
    December 14, 2021

    It’s no good complaining to us that the Government is not accountable to the British people, we have been telling you that for the last year. The question is, what are YOU and the real Conservatives who voted against totalitarianism tonight going to do about it? I suggest that you need a private meeting to discuss either declaring for Reform or creating your own party. The alternative is to be towed behind the globalist placemen (and women) who fill the majority of Conservative seats.

  21. Iain Moore
    December 14, 2021

    The only message to take away from that non answer is that the figure must be really really bad.

  22. rose
    December 14, 2021

    Try asking how many “child refugees” are in care. Say you don’t need to know how much it costs.

  23. No Longer Anonymous
    December 15, 2021

    Boris knows lockdown in all but name will be here before Christmas.

    He’s lying again. The jabs target is deliberately unachievable.

    I’m resigned to it all now.

    The more people hate the Tories the better.

  24. Denis Cooper
    December 15, 2021

    In October 2020 I put in a Freedom of Information request asking to see any official projections for the likely economic benefit to the UK of a “Canada style” free trade deal with the EU, but officials in three ministries denied that they had any relevant information.


    I put in my final appeal on December 14 2020 and the concluding sentence read:

    “Therefore I appeal to you to look again and seek out this important information, which must surely exist somewhere in the government’s files, because while it would have been a quite ludicrous situation if the government had embarked on these difficult trade negotiations with the EU without any clear, quantitative, prior idea of what economic benefits might be achieved for our country thereby, it would be even more ludicrous and potentially very damaging if it was panicked into accepting a poor deal at the last moment.”

    Perhaps I should have asked the Cabinet Office, although Trade helpfully suggested that I ask Business and Treasury but did not mention that other possibility. Anyway I will ask them today.

    1. Denis Cooper
      December 16, 2021


  25. agricola
    December 15, 2021

    FOI refusals occur when government does not wish the information to be in the public domain. Commercial confidentiality is the lifebelt they always grab at.
    When questions are asked in the HoC there should always be an immediate opportunity for the questioner to respond to answers which too often are a brush off. Disdain for answers should be on record.

    1. Diane
      December 15, 2021

      Or it could be that they have no xx!!x? idea at all as that requires a degree of good & effective negotiation, organisation, administration, control & oversight. It’s no doubt a tall order when a thousand land unannounced…..or are they ?? How many rooms are available, already priced and contracted for as we speak, ready for the next arrivals due to be landed, allegedly, this week in predicted calmer waters. We do hear from time to time when the word gets out, of people being ‘bussed’ from one hotel to another though for reasons unknown to the general public as it becomes known only through citizen observations. Still, we must let the government crack on with its plans for more & more facilities to handle / process the ever increasing numbers and let them get those jabs into their arms….

  26. Denis Cooper
    December 15, 2021

    Somewhat off topic, I am now so fed up with the chronic failure of the UK government to rebut anti-Brexit propaganda that I have sent an email to the Home Office as follows:

    “Home Office public relations failures”

    “I wonder if there is anybody within the Home Office who keeps an eye on the Irish press, who could perhaps notice articles such as this today:


    “British government bill could have ‘quite severe’ implications for cross-border travel says Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile”

    and who could perhaps arrange responses to correct such misconceptions, if indeed they are misconceptions?

    Or is it the attitude of the UK government that public opinion on the island of Ireland is of no account, and they can believe whatever nonsense they like?”

    1. rose
      December 15, 2021

      The answer must be, Denis, that the Home Office civil servants want to give away NI.

  27. mancunius
    December 15, 2021

    Surely this is an obvious instance where the Speaker should intervene and demand a full and truthful answer from the Government?
    Or perhaps the government is operating a ‘facts passport’ for MPs whose thoughts have been certified as ‘safe’ – i.e. containing no noxious criticism of the PM?

  28. J Mitchell
    December 15, 2021

    Keep asking. Do it in the house.

  29. Edwardm
    December 15, 2021

    We have every right to know what the cost of housing illegal immigrants is – surely they should be returned to the last safe country they were from and not be housed at our expense, especially when we have ex-armed forces members who are homeless. Surely homeless British people should have priority for being homed.

    1. rose
      December 15, 2021

      Anyway, we now know the figure must be colossal.

  30. Richard1
    December 15, 2021

    haven’t heard of kevin foster before. it sounds like he should be fired if he doesn’t write to answer your question properly within the next 24 hours.

    It is unacceptable that MPs’ questions on matters of public expenditure are not answered clearly. its all our money not theirs.

    The clock is ticking boris, the clock is ticking.

  31. Richard1
    December 15, 2021

    Suggested question for Sir John (or any other MP reading this):-

    ‘How can it be that the gov.uk website on which the public are obliged to obtain a code in order to pick up lateral flow tests has been down for a whole day? Please could [the minister] list the responsible civil servants who will be fired at 08.00 tomorrow am if it is not by then up and running.’

  32. James Wallace-Dunlop
    December 16, 2021

    Can the Speaker help?

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