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Protests grow over MP expense bid

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Protests grow over MP expense bid

By Julian Joyce

BBC News

 

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Harriet Harman says expense claims need to be dealt with "affordably"

 

Campaigners have called on MPs to "stand up and be counted" against a potential rule change exempting them from Freedom of Information laws.

 

MPs are due to vote this week on the new rules, which would allow them to keep their expense details secret.

 

Now opponents have launched an online campaign, urging voters to put pressure on their local MPs to oppose the move.

 

By Monday afternoon an estimated 1,000 e-mails had been sent and organisers are confident the total will grow.

 

The e-mails were in response to an appeal earlier in the day from mySociety.org - a website with 75,000 subscribers that campaigns for more openness in politics.

 

In 2007 the group played a role in defeating a similar move by MPs to exempt themselves from Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.

 

The politicians must realise that by behaving so cynically, they will cause great damage to the reputation of Parliament

Unlock Democracy director Paul Facey

 

The group says widespread opposition to the plans might convince MPs to vote against them.

 

MySociety director Tom Steinberg told the BBC: "We are a strictly non-partisan group, but we are using the internet... to spread the word that this exemption is unacceptable."

 

The rule change has been proposed by the Leader of the House of Commons, Harriet Harman.

 

Her parliamentary order, which MPs will debate on Thursday, aims to remove "most expenditure information held by either House of Parliament from the scope of the [Freedom of Information] Act".

 

It means under the law, journalists and members of the public would no longer be entitled to learn details of an MP's expenses.

 

New bed

 

Last week Miss Harman said information about expense claims needed to be given in an "affordable and proportionate" way in future.

 

Instead, she is proposing that MPs list their expense claims under 26 general headings, with no specific detail about what has been purchased.

 

The proposed rule change would destroy years of campaigning by journalists and others to force MPs to disclose detailed expenses.

 

It would also overturn a High Court ruling last year that would have resulted in all MPs being required to publish a breakdown of their expense claims on request.

 

Following the ruling, it was revealed that former Prime Minister Tony Blair had claimed £10,000 refitting a kitchen in his second home - including a new dishwasher.

 

Stevenage MP Barbara Follett billed the taxpayer more than £1,600 for window cleaning at her London home and Liberal Democrat MP Mark Oaten claimed £245 for a new bed and mattress.

 

Third runway

 

Campaigners say ordinary voters are entitled to know what their representatives in Parliament spend public money on.

 

They have accused the Commons authorities of "a plot to conceal MPs' expenses".

 

They claim the exemption is being rushed through, and was deliberately announced on the same day as ministers approved Heathrow's third runway in order to minimise mainstream media publicity.

 

But they say the internet now offers them a way of by-passing the traditional media by appealing directly to their supporters.

 

A spokesman for Ms Harman said her opponents "were entitled to their point of view" about the effect of the new rule, and the way in which it was proposed.

 

However he said Ms Harman would not be responding publicly until Thursday's debate.

 

Unlock Democracy director Peter Facey said so far protests against the proposed FOI exemption had been largely restricted to what he termed "the civil liberties fraternity".

 

But he was confident many ordinary voters would join the campaign, thanks to the power of the internet.

 

Mr Facey added: "I challenge senior MPs and leaders of all political parties to say where they stand and oppose this idea.

 

"The politicians must realise that by behaving so cynically, they will cause great damage to the reputation of Parliament."

 

So far there is evidence within Parliament of some limited opposition to the plans.

 

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg says he will recommend his MPs vote against the exemption.

 

But so far neither the Parliamentary Labour Party nor the Conservative Party have stated whether they will support or oppose the FOI exemption.

 

Downing Street has also been silent - in contrast to the last time an FOI exemption for MPs was proposed, and Gordon Brown let it be known that he did not support it.

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7837852.stm

 

 

Basically MP's trying to obscure some the ridiculous cons they get up to in "expenses". <_<

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Triple their wages and do away with expenses altogether.

 

May well be the way to go ultimately (not sure about 3x salary necessarily, but there's no doubt some formula which would do the job).

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Guest alex

Should be a full-time job as well, i.e. no places on the board of directors of companies or consultancy roles while they're MPs.

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Should be a full-time job as well, i.e. no places on the board of directors of companies or consultancy roles while they're MPs.

 

Definetly, though their wages would need to reflect their loss of outside income but no doubt the Daily Mail et al would be up in arms about any significant increase.

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Triple their wages and do away with expenses altogether.

 

May well be the way to go ultimately (not sure about 3x salary necessarily, but there's no doubt some formula which would do the job).

 

Giving the public full access to what they actually earn? <_<

 

 

That's exactly what they are trying so desperately to avoid.

Edited by Fop

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Triple their wages and do away with expenses altogether.

 

May well be the way to go ultimately (not sure about 3x salary necessarily, but there's no doubt some formula which would do the job).

 

Giving the public full access to what they actually earn? <_<

 

 

That's exactly what they are trying so desperately to avoid.

 

Yeah, we know. We're suggesting an alternative solution to the problem.

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Triple their wages and do away with expenses altogether.

 

May well be the way to go ultimately (not sure about 3x salary necessarily, but there's no doubt some formula which would do the job).

 

Giving the public full access to what they actually earn? <_<

 

 

That's exactly what they are trying so desperately to avoid.

 

Yeah, we know. We're suggesting an alternative solution to the problem.

 

And why would they go for that when that is what they are trying to avoid in the first place? <_<

Edited by Fop

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Triple their wages and do away with expenses altogether.

 

May well be the way to go ultimately (not sure about 3x salary necessarily, but there's no doubt some formula which would do the job).

 

Giving the public full access to what they actually earn? <_<

 

 

That's exactly what they are trying so desperately to avoid.

 

Yeah, we know. We're suggesting an alternative solution to the problem.

 

And why would they go for that when that is what they are trying to avoid in the first place? <_<

Public opinion.

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Triple their wages and do away with expenses altogether.

 

May well be the way to go ultimately (not sure about 3x salary necessarily, but there's no doubt some formula which would do the job).

 

Giving the public full access to what they actually earn? <_<

 

 

That's exactly what they are trying so desperately to avoid.

 

Yeah, we know. We're suggesting an alternative solution to the problem.

 

And why would they go for that when that is what they are trying to avoid in the first place? <_<

Public opinion.

 

Aye, but it's what they think they can get away with, and public opinion would be massively against any massive increase of their general pay anyway.

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Triple their wages and do away with expenses altogether.

 

May well be the way to go ultimately (not sure about 3x salary necessarily, but there's no doubt some formula which would do the job).

 

Giving the public full access to what they actually earn? <_<

 

 

That's exactly what they are trying so desperately to avoid.

 

Yeah, we know. We're suggesting an alternative solution to the problem.

 

And why would they go for that when that is what they are trying to avoid in the first place? <_<

Public opinion.

 

Aye, but it's what they think they can get away with, and public opinion would be massively against any massive increase of their general pay anyway.

What do you suggest then?

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Triple their wages and do away with expenses altogether.

 

May well be the way to go ultimately (not sure about 3x salary necessarily, but there's no doubt some formula which would do the job).

 

Giving the public full access to what they actually earn? <_<

 

 

That's exactly what they are trying so desperately to avoid.

 

Yeah, we know. We're suggesting an alternative solution to the problem.

 

And why would they go for that when that is what they are trying to avoid in the first place? <_<

Public opinion.

 

Aye, but it's what they think they can get away with, and public opinion would be massively against any massive increase of their general pay anyway.

What do you suggest then?

 

Public scrutiny of their expenses under the Freedom of Information act, as it should be.

 

They'll probably force it through no matter the public opposition (as they tend to when things effect them directly), but even so that's how it should be.

 

Frankly even if they tripled basic wages, there'd still have to be some form of MPs expenses anyway.

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I meant what do you suggest as an alternative to the current set-up? Because if there was that public scrutiny (as there should be) and the little perks and so on consequently decreased/disappeared, I don't see any alternative to a vastly increased basic salary.

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I meant what do you suggest as an alternative to the current set-up? Because if there was that public scrutiny (as there should be) and the little perks and so on consequently decreased/disappeared, I don't see any alternative to a vastly increased basic salary.

 

 

Alternative to what. You think we are suddenly going to run out of people trying to become MPs?

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I meant what do you suggest as an alternative to the current set-up? Because if there was that public scrutiny (as there should be) and the little perks and so on consequently decreased/disappeared, I don't see any alternative to a vastly increased basic salary.

 

 

Alternative to what. You think we are suddenly going to run out of people trying to become MPs?

No, but insufficient wages could lead to the likes of you standing. <_<

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I meant what do you suggest as an alternative to the current set-up? Because if there was that public scrutiny (as there should be) and the little perks and so on consequently decreased/disappeared, I don't see any alternative to a vastly increased basic salary.

 

 

Alternative to what. You think we are suddenly going to run out of people trying to become MPs?

No, but insufficient wages could lead to the likes of you standing. <_<

 

Ha ha I would never stand too many skeletons in the old closet. But really they get huge wages and a pension that would make Croesus jealous.

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I meant what do you suggest as an alternative to the current set-up? Because if there was that public scrutiny (as there should be) and the little perks and so on consequently decreased/disappeared, I don't see any alternative to a vastly increased basic salary.

 

 

Alternative to what. You think we are suddenly going to run out of people trying to become MPs?

No, but insufficient wages could lead to the likes of you standing. <_<

 

Ha ha I would never stand too many skeletons in the old closet. But really they get huge wages and a pension that would make Croesus jealous.

They don't get massive wages.

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I meant what do you suggest as an alternative to the current set-up? Because if there was that public scrutiny (as there should be) and the little perks and so on consequently decreased/disappeared, I don't see any alternative to a vastly increased basic salary.

 

 

Alternative to what. You think we are suddenly going to run out of people trying to become MPs?

No, but insufficient wages could lead to the likes of you standing. <_<

 

Ha ha I would never stand too many skeletons in the old closet. But really they get huge wages and a pension that would make Croesus jealous.

They don't get massive wages.

 

Depends on time per £, another thing they don't like being published.

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What I meant was (quite obviously) what they earn in salary (around £60k per annum iirc) is not a massive amount.

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Triple their wages and do away with expenses altogether.

 

May well be the way to go ultimately (not sure about 3x salary necessarily, but there's no doubt some formula which would do the job).

 

Giving the public full access to what they actually earn? <_<

 

 

That's exactly what they are trying so desperately to avoid.

 

Yeah, we know. We're suggesting an alternative solution to the problem.

 

And why would they go for that when that is what they are trying to avoid in the first place? <_<

Public opinion.

 

Aye, but it's what they think they can get away with, and public opinion would be massively against any massive increase of their general pay anyway.

What do you suggest then?

A bunch of parasites.Off with their heads.We will have given all real power to another bigger bunch of parasites in Europe soon enough,so this lot are pretty much redundant.Tho i'm sure they'll convince us that they still give us value for our money.

To use their own slogan(when taking away our freedoms); "If you have got nothing to hide...... "

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What I meant was (quite obviously) what they earn in salary (around £60k per annum iirc) is not a massive amount.

 

It depends on the time spent, which is why they don't like tables (which is funny because they generally love league tables) published of questions asked and debated voted on etc.

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What I meant was (quite obviously) what they earn in salary (around £60k per annum iirc) is not a massive amount.

 

It depends on the time spent, which is why they don't like tables (which is funny because they generally love league tables) published of questions asked and debated voted on etc.

No need to repeat yourself Fop.

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What I meant was (quite obviously) what they earn in salary (around £60k per annum iirc) is not a massive amount.

 

It depends on the time spent, which is why they don't like tables (which is funny because they generally love league tables) published of questions asked and debated voted on etc.

No need to repeat yourself Fop.

 

Clearly there was. ;)

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