Monday, 22 October 2012

URGENT (Unlock Democracy): A Storm Is Brewing ...

The Speaker of the House of Commons is attempting to block moves to publish the names of MPs’ landlords under a freedom of information request. He is arguing that this is on security grounds, although it would be perfectly possible to publish the names without having to publish addresses.

It seems as if we’ve been here before, with the expenses scandal in 2009. We want to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past; will you sign our letter to John Bercow demanding he agrees to publish the list?

The scandal in 2009 was as much about the attempted cover up as it was about the expenses abuses themselves. Far from the gaze of public scrutiny, the system had been left to fester.

There are serious questions being asked about whether MPs are continuing to milk the system by renting out one property they own (often initially purchased under the old expenses system) while getting the taxpayer to pay for rented accommodation elsewhere. It has even been alleged that it is possible for MPs to rent out properties to each other, and use the new system to make a profit. We can’t make an informed judgement on this, and how the system could be improved, unless the identities of landlords are published.

If there are any major abuses going, it would be far better for parliament to come clean about them now, rather than for them to emerge years later with the parliamentary authorities fighting publication of the list every step of the way. If we have learned nothing else from 2009’s expenses scandal, it is this.

We want to get as many people to sign our letter to John Bercow as possible by next Tuesday. We will be presenting it to him on Wednesday, so we need you to add your name now:

With public trust in the political system at such a low, we can’t afford parliament and Speaker Bercow open up yet another self-inflicted wound. Let’s nip it in the bud right away.

All the best,

Peter Facey