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Saturday, July 05, 2008

A lack of transparency

Attempts by the Western Mail to get more information from the Commons' authorities on how much MPs have spent on equiping their second homes have hit a brick wall. This is precisely the same brick wall as I have hit recently in seeking details of taxpayers money spent by MPs in my region on communicating with their constituents.

Rules in Westminster are much more lax than those that apply in the Assembly. An AM can not use Assembly resources to send out unsolicited mail unless it is to advertise surgeries. For MPs it appears that there are few such restrictions and I regularly get a glossy propaganda newsletter through the post featuring my member of Parliament in every article. This is an improvement on her predecessor but in my view such communication is party political and should be paid for by the MP.

When I first received such a communication I asked the Commons authorities for details of how much it had cost. There then followed a two year battle before they were forced to reveal that information to me. Once I had it I then asked for the same information for the last two years only to be refused again because they said that they were planning to publish it anyway at some unspecified time in the future.

I do not believe them and have appealed again but really, what are they trying to hide and why are MPs so afraid to tell us how they spend public money? It is like trying to get blood from a stone.
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