Thursday, May 17, 2007

Backing to keep MPs’ travel information public

AN ATTEMPT by MPs to stop the public knowing about their expenses claims has been attacked by campaigning Liberal Democrats in Gateshead.

Former Conservative Chief Whip, David Maclean MP, has proposed a change to the law on Freedom of Information that would exempt MPs from having their expenses claims published.

Earlier this year, the government lost a legal battle led by Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker to require Parliament to publish the details of MPs’ travel expenses claims under the law on Freedom of Information.

But in response, an unholy alliance of Conservative and Labour MPs are trying to change the law to prevent publication of their expenses.

Liberal Democrats in Gateshead are leading the calls to keep the information public. Councillor Jonathan Wallace has written to Norman Baker MP and Simon Hughes MP backing their actions to stop the change in the law.

“Norman Baker did a great service to the country earlier this year when his legal battle forced Parliament to publish the detailed travel expenses of MPs,” said Councillor Wallace.

“As a result, many MPs have had to justify why they expect the taxpayer to pay for so much travel by car and plane. If their travel expenses are public, the evidence is clear that MPs do not treat themselves to such generous travel arrangements.

“I find the attitude of the Conservative and Labour MPs who support the attempt to protect themselves from public scrutiny sad and shocking. The attempt to ban the public from knowing the details of how taxpayers’ money is being spent on their travel will rightfully anger the very people who have to foot the bill.

“Here in Gateshead Liberal Democrats feel very strongly that this information should be kept public. MPs should not hide behind a wall of secrecy.”

A further debate on the proposals to exempt MPs from the Freedom of Information laws will be debated in the House of Commons on Friday 18th May. MPs Norman Baker and Simon Hughes will be leading the attempts to stop the changes being introduced.


Anonymous said...

Odd that Ming Campbell failed to vote against this. Are the LibDems really opposing this, or just trying to find more headlines for Focus leaflets?

Anonymous said...

In response to the so-called "observer", the LD's could not have mathematically have defeated this bill on their own - sponsored by the Conservatives and supported by Labour ! Remember and take this on board !

I think Simon Hughes and his LD colleague presented the opposition view very well indeed in order for this to spill over to the Lords and be well deservedly defeated.