Thursday, February 11, 2010

Blinded By The Complexity

Part of the reason the expenses scandal has been such a big story is that it is something that registers with just about everybody, not only because it was our money they were spending, but because the it is tangible evidence that MPs do not live in the same world as the rest of us. In our world we have expenses systems that would have rejected payments for duck house and bell towers that would have stuck to limits and not paid a penny more and wrong-doers would have been referred to the police, not some special review committee.

This post could just as easily be called "they just don't get it", or, "they think we’re all thick".

The BBC is reporting that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority which is being set up to replace the fees office is going to cost £6.6m in the year 2009/10 in set up costs, which is SIX TIMES the amount being chased for repayment after the Legg Review.

1. It is a contradiction to the notion of Parliamentary Supremacy that a QUANGO be set up to set rules and regulations to Parliament. Parliament is supreme; it writes the laws, for it is supposed to be at the top of the legislative food chain. Or, I should say USED to be supreme. It is a tacit confirmation of an adjustment to EU and Soviet style structure that a part of the Government be a regulatory QUANGO. 

2. It does not and will not work. The Soviet Model was corrupt; the EU can't get its accounts signed off (and is proud of that fact).

3. It is an example of how Government does not serve people's best interests that it would set up a regulatory body at Six Times the cost of its own corruption. None of the Westminster Parties is championing the case against this; Why not?

4. It is all a load of nonsense... We are, as the settled title goes... being blinded by the complexity.

All that is and ever was needed is for the police to throw into Gaol those who have already corrupted the expenses system, as these people are guilty of theft. The fees office is not above blame here either.  Not 3 MPs, 300+ of them have been asked to pay money back, many of them into costs of thousands of pounds.  This would require Parliament to submit itself to police investigation, instead of asking one of their own to do the job for them.  The New Rules then need to be agreed upon in and by a sovereign Parliament and the Fees Office responsible, entirely for ensuring erroneous payments are not made in future. Finally every receipt and every expense in a streamlined system are published on the internet for the whole world to see and scrutinise. Finally, MPs must pass a House Resolution that explicitly accepts that the Freedom of Information Act does not extend to matters of cost to the public purse. If constituents feel their MP is claiming too much, whether it is within the rules or not they then have the opportunity to question their MPs on this.

The cost of this is negligible, and it how things should have been done all along. MPs and Peers are the only people in this whole country that not only could have got away with stealing such vast sums, but have escaped en-masse from suffering punishment for their crimes.

Every day it seems there is something in the news that cost us £X millions or £X billions and people are getting dazed by it - we never vote for these things they just keeping getting paid for out of our money. None of the major parties in Westminster is standing up to this, there is a consensus on so many of these things, we only ever find out what we have paid for, we are never asked what we want to pay for.

No More. We absolutely as a people need to take back control from Government and start dictating to them what we want and when. And it starts with this election campaign. God help any candidate that knocks on my door because I am likely to tear them a new one. There is no complexity to honesty, it is the most straight forward thing in the world - it is in dishonesty that we need layers that must first be peeled away before truth is revealled.

Of course, on the day of this announcement MPs have adjourned for a two week break and will not be around Westminster to answer questions. Have they really nothing to work on that a two week break in February can be accommodated?

MPs wonder why people hold them in contempt; they should take a good long look in the mirror.


James Higham said...

All that is and ever was needed is for the police to throw into Gaol those who have already corrupted the expenses system, as these people are guilty of theft.

Seek refuge in complexity - the time worn strategy.

Mike Spilligan said...

If only we could rely 100% on Cameron to demolish as many of the Quangos as possible, starting with those to which Labour has made a political appointment at the head. "Suzi" (pseudo-charity) Leather; Keir (DPP) Starmer and Sir Michael (BBC misTrust) Lyons - all life-long Labour party members - would be a good start.