Friday, 15 May 2009

MPs: Please Pay More To Vet Our Expense Claims

Surprise, surprise: the MPs' suggestion for keeping their own noses out of the trough is to create another Quango (number 191). They estimate this will cost the taxpayer £600,000 a year to run.

So, in addition to excessive expenses paid to date, we're now asked to pay even more, just to keep MP's honest.

These people aren't really in it for us, are they?

The Commons Fees Office is already "overseen" by a committee made up of MPs (WTF?) which is in turn "overseen" by the National Audit Office. One might flippantly observe that with so much 'oversight' it's easy to see how Swinegate happened. But seriously, where is the explanation by the alleged oversight committee of how it allowed Swinegate to happen on its watch? Where are the NAO's audit reports on the subject? I see that the NAO was called in to look at expenses abuse in 1995 by the Nolan Committee into "standards in public life". But clearly whatever action was taken only encouraged MPs in their audacity. It also seems from the report of its investigation into a blow-out in MP's expenses in 2005-06 that the NAO doesn't audit the exercise of the Commons Fees Office's discretion in approving accounts, merely the tally of those approvals against budget estimates (see House of Commons Members Resource Accounts). Does this mean there is no compliance audit function?

For the answers to these and other questions, one can always file a Freedom of Information Request on

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