Time to flex your typing fingers as there is a fairly urgent need to contact your MP today.
It seems that the government has been caught in the act of “burying bad news” and chose the day that the media (and everyone else) would be talking about the Heathrow runway expansion to slip through an amendment which will overturn a court order that requires publication of MP’s expenses.
MPs already have an easy time when it comes to expenses, only having to produce a receipt if the claim is for Â£25 or higher. Spend Â£24.99 on DVDs at HMV, and no receipt is needed – not that I would suggest any MP would be quite so brazen, or at least I hope not!
However, there has been a long running (and expensive) campaign to have MPs expenses published under the Freedom of Information (FoI) act, and a court order last year agreed that they should be made public – after all it is the public who, through our taxes, pay for them.
I appreciate that some expenses might be related to investigations or other activities which could prejudice their work as an MP, but they are already exempt from expenses below Â£25 – and I would think a small “black hole” allowance for spending which needs to be kept secret to protect sources/leaks would be a suitable compromise.
Last week though, following lobbying from various MPs, the leader of the house, Harriet Harman slipped an amendment though which will exempt MPs expenses from the FoI – and also make that retrospective so that any existing requests will also be nullified. Passing new legislation which is retrospective is also highly unusual – suggesting that something has seriously rattled Ms Harman.
Frankly, this is just not on.
A lot of MPs are decent hard working people and seem to be as appalled by this as the rest of us should be – but the waverers need a bit of persuading that their constituents are displeased with this issue.
There is a fortunately, two very easy ways to make your concerns known:
- Please write to your MP about this – use the excellent (and easy to use) www.WriteToThem.com website – and ask them to lobby against this concealment.
- Join this facebook group and invite all your least political friends – plus your most political if they are not already aware of this appalling attempt at hiding information.
After all, as the Home Secretary is wont to say when trying to push through ever more draconian laws on ID cards and super-databases, if you have nothing to hide – why worry?
It seems that some MPs have a lot to hide – otherwise they wouldn’t be so desperately trying to weasel out of the same obligations they impose on the rest of us.
More background reading: