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Monday, November 19, 2007

Guilty as charged

The BBC are reporting that three Plaid Cymru MPs have been found guilty of spending taxpayers' money improperly after taking out adverts which broke parliamentary rules. Elfyn Llwyd, Adam Price and Hywel Williams have been told to repay the cost of the "campaigning" adverts.

Plaid Cymru will now need to submit an accurate election expense return to the Electoral Commission that includes the cost of these advertisments,

Because the £10,000 allowance that 'allows MPs to promote themselves and their work in the constituency' is still in its infancy the guilty trio will just get away with a slap on the wrist. However, this case shows how that allowance might be misused. Future cases will inevitably throw up a number of grey areas that give the impression of impropriety even though the rules have been followed.

It would probably be best for everybody if the allowance was just scrapped as a failed experiment.
One trusts that Senedd rules do not allow the complementary trick - Plaid AMs taking out double-page spreads during a Westminster general election.
I agree that the allowance leaves far too many grey areas. MPs from many parties took advantage of it during the assembly election, remember. Mark Williams's glossy 'annual report' arrived in Ceredigion in the middle of the assembly campaign. In fact some electors had so much stuff with Mark Williams's name on rather than the candidate's they thought he was actually standing!
What is amazing is the fact that Plaid managed to keep this off the front pages of both the daily newspapers and relegate it to a minor spot on the main BBC news. Rhuannedd Richards is certainly earning her keep as SpAD and her mates in the press are palying along. The main question though is why both opposition parties have not gone after PC for these actions?
Could it be that it is because this is blantantly dull and probably had little impact on the recent elections? I thought this was a good scam. They got caught, so what? Compared to going to war on the basis on non-existent weapons of mass destruction this is a turmolt in a tea cup.
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