Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Expenses Notes

I attended the Wales Audit Office conference last week. A range of interesting speakers were laid on, including three Ministers, Lord Digby Jones, ex-MP Sir Richard Needham and Steve Thomas, Ebbw Vale’s finest and also chief executive of the Welsh Local Government Association.

At the Q&A panel I asked “Regarding the current MPs expenses fiasco – where were the auditors?” The issue of the role of audit wasn’t really covered in the responses, but Steve Bundred, chief executive of the Audit Commission was clearly of the view that some of the claims made by MPs represent a criminal offence under the Fraud Act 2006 and he expects to see prosecutions.

Lets hope so. For too long, miscreants in public life have been allowed to slink out of the limelight without properly having been held to account for their actions. MPs need to be held up to the highest standards of behaviour; standards they have decided to ignore en masse.

The argument that it was a way to top up pay doesn’t carry any water – rules is rules.

One last point. The herd mentality here is terrifying. The number of MPs caught by The Daily Telegraph with their fingers in the till is now more than a small minority. There is a substantial minority involved, and by the time all the expenses have been revealed it may well be a majority of them.

No comments: