by Stephen Tall on June 19, 2009
2 Big Stories
The MPs’ expenses stories rumble on…
censoredredacted publication of expenses claims by Parliament has been widely criticised, not least by our own Vince Cable:
The publication of the expenses in this format has only made people even more frustrated. If people had had to rely on this information to find out about their MPs they would have been faced with swathes of black ink rather than information about the flipping of homes and the avoidance of capital gains tax.
“It took a huge amount of effort from campaigners, my Liberal Democrat colleagues and other independent-minded MPs to get even this much information released. It’s a shame that it is still far less transparent than it could have been.”
If you want to investigate your MP’s expenses, the Guardian has unleashed an online tool to turn everyone into a citizen journalist – click here to read all about it.
Meanwhile Hazel Blears – the Labour MP who flipped her second homes and made at least £80,000 on the sale of two taxpayer-subsidised properties without paying capital gains tax – has been granted a reprieve by her local party, though over one-quarter of them voted for her deselection.
Brown backs down on Iraq inquiry
Gordon Brown was forced on Thursday into an embarrassing reversal of his decision to hold the inquiry into the Iraq war in secret, conceding that some, if not all, of the hearings could now be held in open session.
As senior figures in the Labour party, the military and the Whitehall establishment lined up to criticise the prime minister’s decision to hold the inquiry in secret, Downing Street conceded that it would now be up to the inquiry chairman to decide on its format.
Nick Clegg voiced his firm view that the inquiry must be open and public:
“If Gordon Brown was ever serious about a new kind of open politics, he has failed at the first test. Handing the decision on the conduct of the Iraq inquiry to Lord Chilcot is just another example of the Prime Minister passing the buck.
“This inquiry must be held fully in public, except where the revelation of particular pieces of evidence can be proven – through independent scrutiny – to pose a threat to national security. Political and personal embarrassment is not a good enough reason to close the door on public scrutiny.
“This inquiry must allow the people of Britain to come to terms with how an illegal war was waged in our name. It must allow veterans, and the families and friends of those who gave their lives, to come to understand how this disaster happened.”
2 must-read blog posts:
Oh no, Lord Carlile’s talking about terrorism again (David Matthewman)
Like, I suspect, most Liberals, my heart sinks whenever I hear Lord Carlile on the subject of the Government’s response to terrorism. On many other things – marriage rights for all couples, for example – he’s superb, but on 42-day detention he’s the most illiberal Liberal around.
Goodbye to ID cards – the battle is won (‘Costigan Quist’)
The Register is reporting that the Home Office yesterday delayed awarding the contract for making ID cards until after the next General Election. … This contract will now not be awarded until Autumn 2010, which means it won’t happen at all unless Labour hold onto power at the General Election.