Friday, 21 November 2014

Crazy Idea 13 - Don’t allow Parliament to destroy MPs expenses claims

If we want to fix the economy we have to deal with corruption, stop abuse of expenses and be willing to learn from past mistakes.

It’s impossible to do this if our Parliament destroys potential evidence.

According to The Telegraph on the 2nd Nov 2014: “MPs accused of abusing the unreformed expenses system will escape official investigation after the House of Commons authorities destroyed all record of their claims” (CI013A)

That our Government and Civil Service have conspired to destroy evidence of MPs abusing the expenses system makes a mockery of Parliamentary transparency. It does not matter if the majority of MPs were honest and above board, we will never now know... All MPs are now tainted by the fact their expenses claims and all evidence relating to those have been destroyed in a process that calls all of Parliament into disrepute.

A quick search of the Parliament website reveals a wealth of disturbing trends. MPs accused of abusing their position and the expenses system are documented defending their position by relying on the House of Commons Authorised Records Disposal Practice.

I picked a random complaint against an MP as recorded by Parliament. (CI013B) Look at the wording of paragraph 54:

‘54. The Director-General for Human Resources and Change responded to me on 21 February.[69] He said that the arrangements which were under scrutiny had begun in 2001-02, when [The MP] entered into arrangements with others for the purpose of acquiring a church hall to serve both as a constituency office for himself and as offices for the local Liberal Democrat party. The Director-General noted that at about the same time, the then Head of the Fees Office had issued new guidance which "affected" the arrangements that were being set up. He told me that the transactional records and most of the correspondence relating to the period between 2002 and 2004 had "properly been destroyed under the House's Authorised Records Disposal Practice", and in his view the few records that remained in this instance might support more than one explanation. The Director-General said: "I must therefore express extreme caution about drawing inferences from this period."’

The records had been “properly destroyed.” The law protecting MPs is completely different from laws protecting you and me. If you and I destroy evidence that the authorities deem relevant we can and will be prosecuted for that destruction. Even if the evidence would have proved us innocent. But there is a different law for MPs. We are not allowed to draw inferences about the past because all the relevant evidence has been properly destroyed. Whether this MP is innocent or guilty we are not allowed to know, not allowed to investigate, not allowed to judge or draw any inference.

Think this is an isolated incident? Try searching yourself with the phrase: Authorised Records Disposal Practice

The Director-General is correct that we should not presume to judge when the evidence is not all available. However, the evidence should never have been destroyed in the first place.

How can the British public have any confidence in a government that publically and openly covers up any disgraceful abuses by its MPs?

Our Government regularly criticises second and third world regimes for their corruption while deliberately practising a despicable cover up themselves.

If we want to fix the UK economy, we should start with the organization responsible for running the country: Parliament.

Is it a crazy idea for us to demand that the Authorised Records Disposal Practice should be terminated or at the least changed to ensure all records of MPs expenses are kept for the life of an MP plus say... thirty years?

On Monday I'm taking a day off but will be swapping blogs with Mary Pat Hyland's blog on Tuesday. You can read her post here: There's always another goal... While I'll be at The Hylander Posting: If you could change your world: [Edited 24 Nov]

On Wednesday I'm taking part in the Stupid Movie blog tour and normal craziness will resume on Thursday...

Do post your own crazy ideas or feedback on mine in the comments below and sign up to my mailing list below to be notified of future posts.

Why should my crazy ideas have any relevance to the economy? I'm the author of The Great Scottish Land Grab, a novel that imagines a fairer future for Scotland where the poor are empowered to change their destiny. I'm director of my own limited company: Goal 31 Ltd and I've over seven years experience working for government and financial organisations. Also, just like you, I'm a taxpayer and for some crazy reason I think that entitles us to have an opinion and for that opinion to be acted on by the government.

As I wrote at the start, I am making my 100 crazy ideas freely available. It seems unjust to propose ideas to fix the economy and then prevent people from freely reading those ideas. 100 Crazy Ideas to Fix the Economy will be published once the craziness is complete.

I can be found on Twitter: @my100goals or on Facebook: There's a short bio here.

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(CI013A; The Telegraph;

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