Thursday, February 11, 2010

MPs' Greed Costs Country A Fortune

Taxpayers are being forced to fork out £6.5m on an unelected quango because fiddling MPs cannot be trusted to keep checks on their expenses. Parliament is set to play second fiddle to an army of quangocrats and cronies. MPs' greed is costing the country and democracy a fortune.

Keeping a check on MPs' expenses has become an expensive habit.

MPs have been ordered to repay £1.12m following Legg's audit which itself cost £1.16m - including a reported £142,000 for Legg himself.

That's on top of the reported £400,000 for the Kelly inquiry from the standards watchdog, set to be watered down in Ispa quangoland.

The Ipsa quango is set to cost £6.5m and employ a whopping 80 staff, according to figures reported by the BBC. Everything from 'policy' to 'communications' is under 'watchdog' head Kennedy, set to earn more than MPs themselves.

Hired New Labour cronies will pay lip-service to transparency but will be among the best paid in the public sector, according to documents leaked to the Telegraph.

The Orange Party was among many who sounded a warning bell when the idea of yet another quango was first mooted in June of last year. Just how will these cronies be selected and at what cost to the taxpayer? How can the public be sure they will stay corruption-free?

At a stroke the expensive MPs' expenses quango will sweep away centuries of constitutional tradition at the centre of the democratic process.

MPs will be answerable to unelected bureaucrats not the electorate. Parliamentary democracy is being torn to shreds. At the heart lies the vexed question: who will guard the guardians in Brown's Big Brother House?

Martin repeats the warning today on his WSJ blog: Who watches the new parliamentary watchdog?

It's a sad indictment of democracy, when MPs cannot be trusted. The checks and balances were already firmly in place but no-one took a blind bit of notice.

Now MPs, once answerable the electorate, face the soothing music of an unelected bunch of over-paid bureaucrats. A complete reverse of the way this country is supposed to be governed and not the way to rebuild trust.

Harman's quango bill moved the constitutional ship of state into unchartered waters. The government found a neat way of side-stepping responsibility and accountability for its shabby handling of the sordid expenses saga.

And to add insult to injury, as Oborne pointed out, "This new Bill will be voted on by a House riddled with expenses cheats which has just elected a tax-dodger as Speaker."

The Orange Party fears for the future of democracy which is paying a high price for MPs' greed and Bottling Brown's stubborn refusal to hold a general election.

In a democracy, the electorate is the best regulator. Only a general election can begin to restore public trust in politics and politicians. Voters are chomping at the bit, denied the chance and treated with contempt. Parliament and democracy is being reduced to the sinister farce of quangoland.

Once again when ministers get themselves into a mess they dig themselves into a deeper hole, wriggling around with another unaccountable and unelected quango to get themselves off the hook.

But scratch away at the surface and a rotten underbelly is exposed, threatening the cornerstone of constitutional democracy and parliamentary sovereignty.

Handing over vast power at vast expense to a bunch of political elitists who are not accountable to the electorate is not the way to rebuild trust in politics or politicians. Revenge will be a dish best served out of a cold ballot box.

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