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Gordon Brown brings Soviet censorship to MP expenses.

New Labour when openness means nothing of the kind....
Despite repeated promises by Gordon Brown of greater transparency, there are no plans to reveal MPs’ addresses when claims relating to 2008-09 are published later this year. Without this crucial information, many of the worst abuses of the system of parliamentary allowances exposed by The Daily Telegraph in recent weeks would not have been possible.

Last week MPs faced public anger when their censored expenses were released by the Commons. Although the Government has pledged that fewer details will be blacked out next time, it is determined to withhold the addresses of MPs’ designated second homes. The ruling on addresses — which MPs had argued should be excluded for security reasons — will be formally announced by the Commons standards committee, but effectively it will be guided by the Government.

Elliot Morley and David Chaytor, two Labour MPs who face police inquiries after claiming for “phantom mortgages”, were exposed as a direct result of checks against public records for the existence of loans registered to the addresses they lodged with the Commons fees office. Similarly, the widespread avoidance of capital gains tax by many MPs, which led to the departure from the Government of Hazel Blears and Kitty Ussher, would not have come to light.

The plans are contained in a Bill which will be voted on within weeks after being rushed through the Commons. The new regime is expected to come into force early in the New Year. The plans were drawn up following cross-party talks and are likely to be unopposed by MPs keen to restore public confidence.

The new watchdog will have the power to order MPs to repay money and amend entries in the register of interests, and will be able to recommend to the House that MPs have their salaries withheld, are suspended or expelled.

There may be concern that the proposals for the three new criminal offences for the misuse of expenses will not be applied retrospectively, meaning MPs already exposed as having submitted bogus claims may seek to avoid prosecution.

1 people have spoken:

manwiddicombe said...

I was having a conversation with this bloke at lunch time today. His assertion is that there is already plenty of legislation in place to prosecute any MP suspected of fraudulently claiming expenses for personal gain and that the penalties, if found guilty, under the existing law can be more severe than those that Brown is proposing.

If he is correct then the new proposals allow Brown to look tough while actually limiting an MPs exposure to punishment if caught and convicted.

Nice work if you can get it?