Clegg: public has been "betrayed" by Parliament's response to #mpsexpenses

by Stephen Tall on July 23, 2009

Nick Clegg has been putting the quiet days of summer to good use, attracting considerable media coverage. Yesterday saw the launch of the party’s pre-manifesto A Fresh Start for Britain. Today Nick fired a broadside in the Telegraph against Labour for failing to address the real problems underpinning public anger over the MPs’ expenses scandals:

If you had said to me two months ago that we would go on a three-month recess and all we would have was this insipid Standards Bill, and that nothing substantial had been changed, I wouldn’t have believed it.

“The whole momentum for change was so great after what The Telegraph did; I think people are entitled to feel betrayed.

“This was a pledge that all political leaders made – to clean up our act. But all the signs are that it was hot air.

“The sum total of it is this little Bill which is a mouse compared to the real task. It is a baby step; it needs to be followed up by far, far more radical reform. If we don’t go further, the political scandals will be back in the future.

“I am so dismayed by the lack of progress of the last few weeks and so disappointed that Gordon Brown is trying to hype up this small measure as the be all and end all.”

“The Bill is fine as far as it goes, but the idea that Gordon Brown has that this has been done and dusted is patent nonsense. It is one piece of the jigsaw, but we need to change the rotten culture at Westminster for good.”

It’s worth remembering what could by now have been achieved if Labour had chosen to adopt Nick’s 100 Day Action Plan to Save Britain’s Democracy, announced almost two months ago. If Labour had the vision and courage we could by now be celebrating:

  • full acceptance by Parliament of Sir Christopher Kelly’s expenses review;
  • the drawing up of the Members of Parliament (Recall) Bill;
  • the passing of Lord Tyler’s Constitutional Renewal Bill currently before the House of Lords;
  • new Speaker John Bercow convening Party talks to agree changes to Commons procedure;
  • Parliament passing enabling legislation for a referendum on proportional representation; and
  • Parliament passing enabling legislation for an elected Senate.

    Oh, and Parliament would be about to pass the Members of Parliament (Recall) Bill. Which would only leave the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to report on all MPs who had claiming mortgage payments without having a mortgage, “flipped” their home for personal profit or avoided Capital Gains Tax, with suspension of MPs found guilty.

    And then finally the referendum on proportional representation. This was scheduled for Day 100, which I reckon to be 5th September.

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    Nick did say Parliament shouldn’t go into recess this summer. Body-swerving the ‘it is/isn’t a holiday’ argument, to avoid being hypocritical, surely Nick now has to commit himself to keeping up his usual level of media appearances throughout the summer.

    by Duncan Stott on July 23, 2009 at 7:52 pm. Reply #

    This is all good stuff, yet how does it fit with the internal handling of sleaze where peers and MPs have investigated themselves en masse and concluded in a manner that is only surprising to the extent of being obviously bollocks that no one has any case to answer?

    The party’s official position on peers claiming Night Subsistence Allowances now appears to be that if you’re already rich enough to afford a second home outside London, it’s o.k. to label it your ‘main residence’ and claim up to £25k a year for doing so, whether or not you actually live in it most of the year or need it for

    The party’s actual position is less clear, getting a straight answer out of Ros Scott on this is likely pulling teeth.

    But what is certainly true is that the party has taken no action at all against 3 peers (Dykes, Northover & Rennard) accused by national newspapers of dishonestly claiming nearly £200k between them us

    It doesn’t even appear to have properly investigated the stories.

    And from what I can see no credible denials have been issued other than easily refutable drivel about ‘staying within the rules’. (If you disagree read the rules and then try and construct an argument where it is legitimate to claim for an occasionally used holiday home or your mother’s house)

    Can anyone come on here and credibly argue the party has done the right thing here?

    Or even as a minimum been consistent with our public statements about other parties and Parliamentary reform?

    Bring on an elected second chamber… and Scotland Yard…

    by Agent Orange on July 23, 2009 at 9:11 pm. Reply #

    I somehow expect that’s what he’ll be aiming to do anyway. There’s a fire in his belly, and Gord and Dave are just fanning the flames!

    by Neale Upstone on July 24, 2009 at 12:38 am. Reply #

    Mmm… I seem to have posted later than I thought. That one above is a response to Duncan.

    Agent O: I agree. Dave C has made given the Tories an air of morality which they’ve so far never deserved. LDs need to grasp this and ensure our cupboard is clean.

    by Neale Upstone on July 26, 2009 at 7:46 pm. Reply #

    I was dismayed to see the article below.

    Did the Lib Dems oppose it? Did anyone oppose it?

    Shortly before MPs rose for their 82-day summer break, a rule change was slipped through allowing them to claim a new subsistence allowance without any proof of expenditure. The £25 a night payment means that MPs could, in theory, claim up to £9,000 a year without submitting a receipt of any kind – and it is payable on top of the £15,000 a year they are now allowed to claim for the mortgage or rental
    of a second home.

    by Herbert Brown on July 28, 2009 at 9:22 am. Reply #

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