Transparency is all over the papers these days, with the Daily Telegraph’s release of the details of individual MPs’ expenses claims – in a neatly orchestrated release showing the Telegraph’s political leanings.
It is being touted that (under a system yet to be set up, and pre-empting the decisions of the Kelly review) expenses should be audited by a new body, independent of Parliament. It is, of course, a stupid idea. Firstly, no body can ever be independent of Parliament, because Parliament as our representative is the sovereign body of the Kingdom. To whom will this new auditing body be accountable, if not to Parliament?
But there is a much cheaper, and much simpler solution, which requires no quango and no expensive quangocrat to run it. Simply, every claim an MP makes for reimbursement of expenses must be published before it can be paid. With the receipt. And an explanation of why the claimed expenses are wholly necessary towards the performance of parliamentary duties.
We, the people, are the true sovereigns of the nation; our MPs must be accountable to us. If they publish their expenses claims, we can audit them ourselves.
Even with post-hoc publication, which is now inevitable, MPs are going to be a lot more circumspect about their expenses claims than they were in the past. But prior publication will be an even more effective discipline. In fact, I shall be making a submission to Kelly directly.