Wednesday 22 April 2009

Is it enough?

There have really been two aspects to the issue of MPs expenses. The first has been whether the rules have been too open to abuse - and the second is whether some honorable members have been too ready to abuse them. For me, the second was always the bigger problem. The rules were laid down on the basis that honorable members could be trusted to behave as such, and the simple reality is that some of them have not.

The government moved yesterday to change the rules, and as far as I can see, the changes they are proposing are, in principle, sensible ones. But will they be enough to stop the obvious abuses which have attracted so much attention? The omens are not good.

I heard an interview with Liam Byrne yesterday, in which a series of specific cases were put to him, with the follow-up question in each case - 'would these changes stop that?'. I was somewhat puzzled by his inability to give an affirmative answer on any count. It made me wonder whether things aren't quite as simple as they might seem. Even the new rules do not really deal with the attitude amongst so many (and not just MPs, by the way) that, if the rules don't forbid it, then it must be OK; and there are elements of the new rules which are likely to be equally open to abuse.

They say that individual cases make bad law. I agree; but good law still needs to show how it addresses those individual cases. This one has longer to run.

1 comment:

Spirit of BME said...

Listen, there is a business answer to their pay & conditions.
MP/AMs are locally selected ,the shareholders/electorate give them the job, therefore the contract of employment should remain local.The pay level should be decided on what would attract a local candidate and expenses/increases or cuts agreed by local board.The local party will get a block sum and its up to them on how to spend it along with their other outgoings.
As that dreadful rat says in the TV ad "Simples"