Parliamentary Services expenses remain outside of the Official Information Act. How can we trust that the troughers aren’t snuffling up stacks of our cash from the trough?
In the UK a tough line is being taken now¬†with the¬†Independent¬†Parliamentary Standards Authority being ordered to release information:
Westminster officials have been ordered to publish MPs‚Äô expenses claims in full so the public can judge whether they are genuine.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), which oversees expenses payments, has been told it must disclose the receipts handed in by MPs to back up their claims.
The ruling by the Information Commissioner is a victory for¬†The Sunday Telegraph, after Ipsa refused to release three receipts we had asked to see.
Graham Smith investigated its refusal and found that the authority had breached the Freedom of Information Act. He gave officials five weeks to hand over the documents or face prosecution for contempt of court.
Ipsa said it was studying the ruling. It must decide whether to appeal. If it concedes defeat and releases the receipts, it will set a precedent for the documents to be viewable by the public.
John Mann, the Labour MP who has called for greater openness on expenses, welcomed Mr Smith‚Äôs ruling as ‚Äúvery sensible‚ÄĚ and said MPs would be more careful about the claims they submitted if they knew the receipts would be displayed.
He said: ‚ÄúTransparency affects behaviour positively. Every time there‚Äôs an attempt to hide things, using whatever excuse, it creates the impression that there‚Äôs something wrong going on. Generally these days I think there isn‚Äôt, but the public have a right to know.‚ÄĚ
Ipsa was set up to restore public confidence following the 2009 expenses scandal, which led to the jailing of four MPs for fraudulent claims – including one, Jim Devine, who submitted fake receipts for ¬£3,000 of cleaning and ¬£5,000 of printing.