Friday, 19 June 2009

Redacting Worse than the Truth

There are certain things that I can accept should have been redacted with the publications of MPs expenses:

  • The personal details of staff members, their addresses, bank details etc
  • I'd also by the same score accept account details of the MPs themselves for their banks and services.
  • Signatures also as this could lead to fraud. Although I did notice Michael Connarty's familiar looping Y was always peaking out from under this redactions.

However, there appears to be a lot that has been left out.

  • The names and locations of where things were purchased.
  • The detailing of what is on the receipt. I know that one of the new measures is that receipts are required for every amount claimed (welcome to the world the rest of us inhabit) but surely this could be shown now.

Some of the mysterious thing from my perusal of just a few was the number of overdue bills just from the West Lothian members. TV licenses had expired, Council Tax was not paid on time, phone bills, electric etc, other services related to accommodation were not paid on time. In this modern age most of these can be set up as direct debit payments and you never worry about the time that is being paid or that it hasn't been being paid. I accept that being a elected representative is time consuming matter but some simple steps could make things easier.

Also in the letter from Connarty to Devine detailing the £4000 sale of furniture at the top of the letter after Dear there is a redact over the name. It looks about the length to be Jim but obviously it must not be as this is the only part of the body of the text that is redacted. Maybe Michael has a pet name for Jim....slim, or sexy, or love...eugh.....sorry back to reality and that is the reason that it was black inked.

Whoever took it upon themselves to redact so much of these thousands of pages of claims has does a disservice to the phrase transparent Government. Indeed it reminds me of Sir Humphrey Littleton in the 'Open Government' episode of Yes Minister it is just the sort of compromise that he would have got Jim Hacker to agree to, nay suggest, in the closing scene should be the Department of Administrative Affairs approach to releasing MP's expenses.

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