Brown talks bollocks on reform of MPs’ expenses

Gordon Brown thinks MPs expenses should be reviewed by an independent body. Raedwald explains why this is nonsense:

Let’s be clear. In a democracy, there’s no such thing as an ‘independent’ regulatory bureaucratic body; such an organisation will always be responsible to the government of the day, its staff will be salaried civil servants, its budget will be allocated by the Treasury and it can be expanded, shrunk, merged, split or abolished at the whim of the Executive. By any other name, it’s just another department of State. Its objectives, its performance and its remit are dictated by government. The government will always reserve the power to overule it or dismiss its chief officer. Elizabeth Filkin’s independence, you will recall, lasted exactly as long as it took for MPs to force her out for questioning their dubious probity, to replace her with a compliant and pliable placeholder. So let’s look at Brown’s specious announcement:

“If MPs continue to set their own codes and rules, however objectively they try to do so, the public will always question the transparency and the standards that they rightly demand”

Brown is the Crown’s senior minister, not the head of Parliament. He doesn’t have a penny to spend except what Parliament votes him. He can’t raise a penny in tax without Parliament’s consent. The Crown’s prerogatives that Brown exercises are limited these days. Parliament’s consent is needed for just about everything Brown does. Our system has evolved not because Parliament cannot be trusted, but because government can’t be trusted. The direct link between Parliament and the people is our fundamental safeguard and defence against corrupt and oppressive government. It is of fundamental importance that MPs are free to set their own codes and rules; the problem is not Parliament’s powers, but the poor calibre of MP in recent intakes. Thieves. Peculators. Liars. The worst of them Labour.

Cameron is spot on; Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Brown sees the crisis as an opportunity for the central State to grab sovereignty from Parliament in a quiet coup, when the real solution is real transparency and greater democracy, more independent MPs, weaker central parties and stronger local mandates.

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One Response to Brown talks bollocks on reform of MPs’ expenses

  1. Pingback: Cameron talks bollocks on MPs’ expenses « Amused Cynicism

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