Parliamentary Expenses

Jan 19, 2009

At the prompting of mySociety, I’ve written a brief note to my local MP, Beverley Hughes, about the upcoming vote on the plan to exempt MPs’ expenses from Freedom of Information requests. Over 1000 people have joined a Facebook group dedicated to opposing the measure.

The text of my note is reproduced below: <!–break–>

Dear Beverley Hughes,

I am a constituent of yours and am writing to urge you to vote in favour of openness and transparency in politics by opposing the draft Freedom of Information (Parliament) Order 2009 on Thursday. This order seeks to ensure that MP’s expenses are kept secret. Whilst I have every personal sympathy with the desire of MPs for privacy in their personal lives, expenses are part of their role as public servants and I believe that the public has a right to know. Not only that, but the knowledge that these expenses will be published will serve to deter those who might give Parliament a bad name by abusing their privileges.

In addition, I think it is important to point out that any self-employed person or small-businessperson needs to maintain meticulous records of their personal expenses which must be provided for tax purposes, at the risk of over-paying taxes if they do not. It seems unfair that MPs should be held to any lower standard. Likewise, I am sure that other public officials have to account for their spending, especially at a time when many of us are increasingly concerned about our personal budgets. For MPs to be seen to hide their expenses creates an impression that there is something to hide.

I hope that you agree with me in this. If you do, there is an Early Day Motion which has been put forward by Jo Swinson MP which you can sign. If you have not yet made a decision on how to vote, I urge you to consider the reputation of Parliament and the Labour party and to vote in favour of transparent and open government.

Yours sincerely,

Rob Knight

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