MPs’ travel expense by type revealed

“I want to make sure that FoI remains in the British bloodstream and is not some kind of Prague Spring.” – Norman Baker MP

Norman Baker MP won his two-year freedom of information battle for the release of MPs’ travel expenses by mode of transport. The House of Commons was forced to reveal the figures after the Information Tribunal ruled in Mr Baker’s favour. The House of Commons fought all the way, claiming disclosure would breach of MPs’ privacy. Funny how MPs have no trouble invading our privacy by foisting on us invasive ID cards and universal surveillance, but when it comes to us knowing how they spend our taxes, suddenly they have a deep interest in preserving privacy. It’s quite simple: If MPs don’t want to account to the public, they shouldn’t take the public’s money.

It can’t be a coincidence that just as MPs’ expenses are coming under greater public scrutiny for the first time, legislation is simultaneously moving forward that would cripple the FOI act and exempt all MPs from its coverage.

The fact is we still don’t have a transparent expense system. Even with Mr Baker’s victory, we still don’t have a detailed account of MPs’ travel expenses, which would definitively show whether MPs are above board or milking the system. In Scotland, abuse was only revealed when detailed travel expenses were published. That showed how several MSPs were claiming for taxi expenses when they weren’t even in the country or claiming reimbursement for ‘constituency travel’ when they were out on the town. If MPs have nothing to fear they should have nothing to hide. Stop the foot dragging and open up the system to full public scrutiny now.

One Response to “MPs’ travel expense by type revealed”

  1. Sheena says:

    You wrote, “legislation is simultaneously moving forward that would cripple the FOI act and exempt all MPs from its coverage.” Now, is this surprising. In the US Congress exempts themselves from all sorts of things they expect the public to live by. Beginning with Social Security and then go down hill from there.

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