Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Parliament of thieves redux

Over the past few years, the UK's Parliament has been rocked by an expenses scandal, which exposed widespread fraud and abuse by MPs. Six Cabinet Ministers resigned, a dozen MPs announced they would not stand for re-election, and four were prosecuted and jailed. Following the scandal, the UK Parliament reformed its expenses rules, outlawing taxpayer-funded property speculation, and limiting claims in other ways. People thought the mess had been cleaned up. Instead, MPs just found new ways to rort the system. And in typical fashion, they are now blocking release of the evidence:

John Bercow has written to the expenses regulator warning him not to disclose official documents that show the identities of MPs’ landlords for “security” reasons.

Publication of the names, which was supposed to take place today, would expose the extent to which MPs are exploiting a loophole in the rules that allows politicians to rent their homes to one another. The loophole means that MPs can still effectively build up property nest eggs at taxpayers’ expense, despite official attempts to stop the practice following the expenses scandal.

Its amazing how anything which would make MPs look bad and allow people to identify the thieves and hold them accountable is a "security" matter. And its amazing how once again MPs stand together in a conspiracy of silence against the people.

But naturally, this has simply resulted in the information being leaked:
Members of the House of Commons, including former ministers, are claiming expenses of up to £20,000 a year each for rent as well as receiving rent from properties that were often purchased and refurbished with taxpayer assistance.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority confirmed that at least eight MPs are either letting properties to, or renting from, another MP, a loophole in the rules that effectively allows them to continue building up property nest-eggs at taxpayers’ expense.

Research by this newspaper using official parliamentary records shows that the 27 MPs who are renting London homes while claiming rental income for other flats include Liam Fox, the former defence secretary, Chris Bryant, the shadow immigration minister, and former defence ministers Peter Luff and Nick Harvey, as well as David Amess, a Tory MP

So what has the attempted cover-up achieved? It has simply brought the UK's Parliament further into disrepute. They've learned nothing from the expenses scandal. Time for the entire rotten institution to be purged.