Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The cost of Silence

Or rather, the cost of trying to keep Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes finding out in detail how much MP's spend on travel expenses and what sort of travel they spend them on.

The answer is £17,000.

The Commons Commission resisted Norman Baker's request under the freedom of Information Act for two years, arguing that giving him the information would breach data protection rules. It seemed they had something to hide. I don't know why. All it means is that MP's have to explain themselves if they seem to be spending a lot.

Of course now MP's are considering giving themselves a get out of the Freedom Of Information Act. That would be a big mistake. Anything that makes MP's look less accountable is bad for democracy and politics.

The BBC has this on the cost of trying to deny the request here and the story about the expenses here.

The House of Commons Commission webpage is here, and its membership is here.

2 comments:

james higham said...

I'm in two minds about this one. On the one hand, they need to be transparent but on the other, what's wrong with a few perks?

Benedict White said...

James, I see your point about "perks" but we have a right to know about them all the same. It is public money after all.