Friday, March 21, 2008

An utter disgrace - House of Commons expenses "system"

It was, I suppose, depressingly predictable.

The House of Commons expense "system" is such a pathetic shambles that the police can't prosecute Derek Conway. There is such an appalling lack of framework to the expenses "regime" that you can do anything you like, basically.
So, stick your son on the pay roll with a nice fat bonus and let him do his full time studies while getting a full time salary from the taxpayer. Yes, he might have strolled into Newcastle University library and cut out the odd newspaper clipping and sent it to Daddy, but apart from that there is no evidence of his "work": no emails, no Word documents, no remaining clippings and sonny didn't even know the name of Daddy's secretary.

But that's OK, because the House of Commons expenses "rules" are basically a blank sheet of paper. There are no rules to break, effectively.

It is an utter disgrace.

Well done to Nick Clegg for highlighting the need for a fundamental reform of the House of Commons expenses system and for Duncan Borrowman for raising Conway's case with the police in the first place:

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said:"The public have the right to expect that their money is being properly accounted for. The Speaker's review of expenses must provide the basis for fundamental changes to the system of MPs' allowances."

The Met started an investigation after receiving a letter from Duncan Borrowman, who is the prospective Lib Dem candidate for Mr Conway's Old Bexley and Sidcup seat.

Mr Borrowman, who asked officers to examine whether a fraud had been committed and said he was "disappointed" the inquiry was not pursued further.

In February, I highlighted the highly dangerous position of Nick Harvey as frontman for the House of Commons administration. I agree with James Graham that it is now time for Nick to disassociate himself from this utter disgrace by resigning from his "spokeperson" role for the House of Commons Commission.

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