Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Brown Climbs Down On Expenses Disgrace

The national disgrace of MPs' expenses has forced Brown and his commons leader, Harriet Harman, to back-track on their potty plans. But why did Brown order his troops to vote for Harman's law in the first place? 

Even the Palace of Plenty was starting to see sense, with Tories and LibDems firmly coming out against a new law exempting MPs' expenses from the Freedom of Information Act (FoI).

The 'John Lewis list' and second homes allowances caused outrage among many MPs, let alone the public but Harman planned a new law to limit information on allowable commons expenses. 

As the recession bites deeper, the grotesque contrast between the harsh world of ordinary folk struggling in the economic crisis and the cosy comfort of the political elite, is most evident in the closeted world of MPs and their lifestyles.

People are tightening their belts but MPs' generous expenses system allows them to squander taxpayers' cash on furniture and home improvements. 

No wonder Harman was accused of creating one law for the rich MPs and another for the poor rest of us. 

Coming to a head in a confused commons during PMQs, where Brown apparently promised a free vote, MPs were told later that Downing Street had pulled the plug on Harman's beleaguered bill altogether, so the government will not be forcing a vote on it tomorrow.

Brown may have seen off a humiliating commons defeat which wouldn't have stood a chance of getting through the House of Lords anyway but the questions still remain. 

Why were ministers so set on an exemption in the first place? What sordid little secrets and embarrassing details were hidden away in their receipts? What indeed did they have to hide? Now presumably the people who pay their wages, the taxpayers, will soon find out. 

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