20 Jan 2009

Keep MPs expenses transparent

On the 16th of May 2008 the High Court ruled that MPs' expenses must be published under the Freedom of Information Act. This Thursday, MPs are voting to change the law to keep their expenses secret after all.

Your MP may not even know about this proposal (it was sneaked out under the Heathrow runway announcement). Please take a few minutes to alert them to this attack on Parliamentary transparency and ask them to vote against the measure. Here is my email to David Drew MP who has always been open about his expenses: "You are probably aware that on Thursday in the House of Commons the intention is to exempt the expenses of MPs and Lords from the Freedom of Information Act and thereby close them to public scrutiny. This is to be passed almost a year to the day after the Derek Conway scandal erupted, when it emerged that the MP had been paying his sons as research staff while they were at university, despite not being able to demonstrate that they had actually done any work for him. We need proper scrutiny otherwise scandals such as this wont come to light. Gordon Brown when he became Prime Minister published the Governance of Britain Green Paper which asserted that “It is right that Parliament should be covered by the [Freedom of Information] Act.” Please can you ensure Parliamentary transparency remains. Could you also please sign Early Day Motion 492 re this matter."

Here is a comment from Unlock Democracy: "It is completely outrageous that the Government should seek to do this at all, let alone in such an underhand manner. The Government is planning to put us all on a national identity database, force us to carry identity cards, keep the DNA of millions of innocent people on a database and to read all our emails, phone and internet records regardless of whether we are supposed to have done anything wrong. Their argument is always “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” Why, then, is it one rule for us and another rule for politicians?"

Go to the Unlock Democracy website to read more.

1 comment:

Philip Booth said...

Sir/ Madam,

The U-turn by the Conservatives and Gordon Brown to agree the release of details of MPs' expenses shows what public pressure can achieve. It seemed MPs were about to exempt themselves from the Freedom of Information Act, which would have been outrageous. We have seen one or two MPs purchasing plasma TV's and luxurious goods for their second homes in London at the taxpayers' expense. While this may well be the minority, we must have insist upon transparency to protect the taxpayer.

We need the same rule for MEPs whose expenses are also open to abuse despite a tightening of the rules in Brussels, as exemplified by the corruption of lead Conservative SW MEP, Giles Chichester, caught with his hand in the till and yet still re-selected for a cert safe SW seat by his party supporters (i). The Green Party is the only party to score 100% for transparency of their MEPs' expenses according to Open Europe, an Independent think tank calling for radical reform of the EU (ii).

Yours sincerely

Cllr Ricky Knight - Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for North Devon
South West Green Party Lead Candidate for 2009 European Elections

web-site: www.northdevongreens.org.uk
ND GP Tel: 0845 456 2584
Home: 01271 371732
Mob: 07986 941 026

(i) See: http://www.glosgreenparty.org.uk/content/view/2120/2/
(ii) Open Europe survey results: http://www.openeurope.org.uk/media-centre/pressrelease.aspx?pressreleaseid=75