Parliament publishes expenses today…

They are on the House of Commons website.

The mechanics of this publication have been characterised by the usual chaos, confusion and obfuscation we’ve come to expect from the House of Commons and the Members Estimates Committee. No official statement was given as to the final date, time and format. Just rumour and speculation. There was a complete lack of leadership, no identifiable person responsible for the publication – just the usual phalanx of faceless bureaucrats avoiding accountability.
I’m now wading through the documents but I’m doubtful that the public – who paid for all this – will see anything like the full record given to the Daily Telegraph.

If you spot anything interesting please contact me.

More to follow…

12 Responses to “Parliament publishes expenses today…”

  1. I saw you on Breakfast News this moring. You pretty well summed up the situation I think.

    A small step forward but they are going to have to be dragged, kicking and screaming – sorry, mumbling and obfuscationg, to do the right thing.

    The same seems to be happening to the banking fiasco with the Chancellor saying, ‘oh know, we don’t need to change the regulatory structure’

    It almost makes me despair; until I realise there are people like you fighting the cause.

    Don’t give up Heather.

  2. David says:

    It would seem that our MPs are a very lucky bunch. I wonder how much the Commons spent on black markers given the amount of redacted material in these documents. Of course if they have done the redaction electronically they may be in for a shock!!

    I would simply echo the call for someone with some balls at the DT to hand over the complete data to wikileaks. How do i know if my MP is claiming a reasonable amount for his/her mortgage if i can’t establish where s/he lives? Welcome to Freedom of Information British style.

  3. Nick says:

    The most interesting thing is that the Commons authorities have clearly redacted a lot more than the Tribunal allowed them to do in the decision last year. Assuming that they haven’t already given you fuller disclosure of the 14 MPs whose information you requested, they appear to be in breach of the Decision Notice.

    You should ask the new Commissioner to bring proceedings against the House of Commons under section 54 of FOIA.

  4. Dan Brusca says:

    It seems that many of the redactions cover specific items of expenditure. For instance, my local MP Liz Blackman spent £239 in March 2008 under ‘Other’ but the nature of the item has been redacted on the claim form, has everything on the receipt except for a statement that it has a five-year guarantee.

    On the issue of redacted addresses, there’s a simple solution, which is for the Fees Office to substitute identifiers for each address, rather than redact them. For example, my MP’s constituency address might be BLACKMAN_A and her London address BLACKMAN_B.

    This would keep the addresses secret, but would enable the public to see if expenses suddenly started being claimed for BLACKMAN_A, rather than BLACKMAN_B, a possiblt indication of flipping.

  5. I says:

    I thought the 2nd home allowance was for constituents living outside of London to be able to claim for a 2nd home in London to attend parliamentary sessions.

    So why are MPs with London Borough constituencies claiming 2nd home allowances?

  6. JTownend says:

    The Telegraph is promising an uncensored version in a print supplement on Saturday – how much will be made available online by them is not yet known. But presumably some information – i.e addresses – will still be kept private. Guardian reports that TMG ‘has previously promised to keep details of MPs’ addresses and bank accounts secret.’

  7. John Drinkwater says:

    I assume you already know all about this

  8. Geoff says:

    The censorship of the published MPs’ expenses claims forms today makes a mockery of the FOIA. It’s a nonsense excercise, and does nothing to engender public faith in the concept of political transparancy which has so recently been promised to the electorate by our political leaders.

    Without access to MPs second home addresses, the public would never have known about the ‘flipping’ of MPs second homes. Why should a second home address be redacted? Where public funds are used to pay for the maintenance of a second home it should NOT be regarded as a private address. This criteria should also apply to releasing the addresses of hotels when MPs claim for a stay. What’s private about a hotel address for goodness sake.

    The widespread abuse of the Additional Costs Allowance is at the heart of this scandel.

  9. JP_Fife says:

    Are Tony Blair’s expenses included? Rhetorical question I know but I’m surprised more hasn’t been made by the media of the ‘accidental’ shredding of Blair’s expenses. It’s clear Tony has something to fear, ergo expenses ‘hidden.’

  10. Linda says:

    For me the most interesting thing was all the black and lack of information. It took me back to a time when I lived in a certain Arab country and they redacted all British newspapers. First they had a group who used a black marker pen to get rid of the article they wanted to sensor. By the time they finished the black marker pen had ruined most of the paper and bled right through. After complaints they used scissors to cut out the articles which left the paper in holes. My point is have we really sunk to that level and can we ever retrieve our political rights that they have so blatantly taken away?

  11. Stuart says:

    The SUN comments!

    “The only surprise is that no MPs claimed for magic markers used to hide the truth.

    Or perhaps they did – and that’s been blacked out as well.”

  12. Liam says:

    The BBC website is making fun of the MPs who have paid for photos of themselves, which they all seem to say are for “Publicity purposes”. If those publicity purposes are for campaigning for re-election, then that is NOT part of an MPs job, and should nto be paid for by the taxpayer – unless it’s going to pay for all candidates re-election publicity photos. Interesting…

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