Saturday, 23 May 2009

MPs’ “gravy train”

Being a bit of a cynic, I wasn’t really surprised by the recent revelations about MPs’ expenses. I felt a vague sense of sympathy for Speaker Michael Martin when he was “grilled” in the House of Commons the other day, but he really did have to go: it must have been as obvious to him as to others that he had completely failed in his job. The House of Commons should feel collective guilt for their appalling attempt to exempt themselves from the Freedom of Information Act but, in supporting this, the Speaker was going against the principles of democracy and, for this alone, deserved to be ousted.

Some MPs seem to feel it’s their birthright to take money from the public purse. I was amazed by the tone of some of the statements from Tory MP Anthony Steen, boasting about his large house and then asking “What right does the public have to interfere with my private life” – completely failing to acknowledge that it was his (and others’) misuse of public money, and their subsequent attempts to hide this, that caused the whole row.

I’m not a Tory supporter and dread the result of a General Election this year, but I definitely have some sympathy with John Wick, the man who passed on the details of MPs’ expenses to the Daily Telegraph, when he says that the official version due for publication in July had lots of details censored, and that the public has a right to know about MPs' affairs given how much information the government is collecting about ordinary citizens.

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