'Not one question' Yorkshire Tory about polling and focus groups has been answered by Government in fresh transparency row

A former Cabinet Minister and Yorkshire MP has blasted the Government for refusing to answer questions to MPs in a situation the Commons Speaker called “unacceptable”.

Haltemprice and Howden MP David Davis. Photo: PA

David Davis used a point of order in the Commons today to take aim at the Government, which is already under fire for a lack of transparency over the refurbishment of Boris Johnson’s flat among other allegations.

The Haltemprice and Howden Conservative said: “This Government spends more money on polling and focus groups than any government in history.

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“There may be good reason for that but for the last year they have resisted adamantly all Freedom of Information requests about that subject.”

Mr Davis has submitted five written parliamentary questions to the Cabinet Office about polling linked to the pandemic. He said: “Not one of them was answered on time, not one of them has been answered yet.”

Mr Davis said other departments failed to respond to “named day questions”, in which an MP sets a date for an answer to be given.

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, in his reply, said: “It is totally unacceptable. We’re elected by our constituents, our constituents expect a service and that service is being denied by ministerial departments.

“It is not acceptable, we will continue to take it up. What I would say to secretaries of states, I wouldn’t like to cross (Mr Davis) as I know this won’t be the end of it.”

He added: “I am dissatisfied. The message needs to go to the heart of Government: Take MPs seriously from all sides, they deserve the service, so do their constituents, it’s not acceptable.”

It comes as the Prime Minister Mr Johnson criticised questions over the lavish refurbishment of his Downing Street flat as a “farrago of nonsense”.

The Prime Minister said today “I don’t think there’s anything to see here” despite the watchdog saying there are “reasonable grounds” to suspect an offence as it launched a formal inquiry.

The probe will seek to establish who initially paid for the work and whether any donation was properly declared amid suggestions he was given a loan from the Conservative Party.

During a visit to a London school, Mr Johnson told broadcasters: “We will comply with whatever they want, and I don’t think there is anything to see here, or worry about.”

The upmarket overhaul of his No 11 residence was inspired by a desire to get rid of the “John Lewis furniture nightmare”, as reported by the Tatler magazine covering high society. But Mr Johnson said: “The one thing I object to in this whole farrago of nonsense is I love John Lewis.”

He declined to commit to immediately publish in full any findings from newly appointed ministerial standards adviser Lord Geidt as he carries his own review into whether any donations were properly declared.

The refusal led to renewed criticism from Labour, who were already objecting to the arrangement because the Prime Minister remains the “ultimate arbiter” of the code, meaning he “effectively marks his own homework”.

Mr Johnson argued, in a letter to chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life Lord Evans, that he “cannot and would not wish” to give up the power.

Lord Geidt was appointed to the position on yesterday, five months after the resignation of his predecessor Sir Alex Allan.