Friday, January 16, 2009

MPs Expenses

The Independent has an article today here under the title "A good day to bury bad news on MPs' expenses" and pointing out that while attention was focussed on big stories such as the Heathrow runway announcement, ministers have slipped out the news that they plan to change the law to prevent publication of MPs expenses.

Typical of this government - they lose a court case under existing law, so they change the law - though there is little doubt that most of the public would rather see MPs obey the existing law.

The article says that

"MPs will vote next week on an order that would prevent up to one million pages of receipts being released, despite having last year lost a long-running freedom of information battle.

"Under the plans, released quietly yesterday alongside major announcements on Heathrow and Equitable Life, MPs' expenses will be exempted from the Freedom of Information Act – thus preventing the public from seeking a full breakdown of legislators' taxpayer-funded allowances.

Officials had planned to release a full breakdown of MPs' expenses, down to the last receipt, after the Commons authorities lost a three-year legal battle over FOI requests demanding disclosure of a receipt-by-receipt breakdown of MPs' spending on second homes.

However, the autumn deadline for publication passed, with officials complaining that the process of scanning and redaction – expected to cost about £1m – was proving even more complex than first thought.

Under the new plans, the full expenses will remain secret. Instead, the House of Commons will publish MPs' expenditure under a series of headings."

This is treating the public with contempt. As the Conservatives have said, the proposals to put MPs expenses into the public domain do not go far enough, and the Government should allow people to apply for full details of claims.

To restore battered public confidence in our political system, we must do more to ensure that the taxpayers know that their hard-earned money is not being abused. As David Cameron said at party conference of the culture of claiming expenses from the taxpayer in secret,‘ALL THAT MUST GO.’


Anonymous said...

Good man, excellent. I was absolutely furious yesterday. Iain Dale's done a thread on it. In all sense the Tories should make an election pledge and hire a dude or dudette as a central admin/point of contact (it's pretty complex).

People hold politicians in such disrepute because of this, their mendacious preaching.

Again, good man. There are a few who already do it, so I guess if you start off on the right foot and not do a Spellman, then cool.

Chris Whiteside said...

You're right to be furious. David Cameron has asked all Conservative MPs to make a full declaration of expenses. Most of them have but, alas, four have not. And the way the government is treating this issue is a disgrace.

To be clear, if I am elected as an MP, I am committed to publishing my expenses in line with David Cameron's policy.