11 May 2009

Heather Brooke: Breaking the MPs' Silence

If any one person deserves credit for bringing openness to MPs' expenses, it is Heather Brooke, who almost single-handedly has fought for their publication. As she points out in her latest post, the MPs haven't given up, or even conceded the principle that we, the electorate, have a right to see what they spend our money on:

Some have asked why I haven’t updated my site to take into account the publication Friday in the Daily Telegraph of MPs’ expenses. Frankly, I’ve just been too busy. I was speaking at a conference for members of the Information Tribunal Friday morning and then doing all the television news rounds that afternoon and evening.

One highlight - debating Stuart Bell of the Members Estimates Committee on Channel 4 news (scroll down to watch). In the Green Room before the show, Bell told me Labour’s latest reactionary plan to hive off the auditing of expenses to a private company ‘like Capita or CapGemini’. These companies apparently picked at random by him. I assumed these were just his initial brainstorming thoughts. But no, apparently this was the government’s latest ruse to stop us, the people, getting a look directly at MPs receipts.

More interesting, perhaps, is the following:

I have a plan which I hope to announce in the coming days. I’m going to set up some mechanism to register the public’s demand for change in Parliament. We need a new system for MPs expenses. One that is simply, transparent and gives the final scrutiny to those people in the best position to provide it - the constituents.

Much more to say, but the demands of work are pressing upon me and unlike MPs I have no taxpayer-funded staff to help me.

Ask, and I'll do my bit - both directly, and in terms of getting the message out to others.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca.

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