Thursday, February 04, 2010

Give voters real power to sack MPs between elections

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The MPs expenses scandal rolls on, with the publication of a key report* today. For me this means that giving voters real power to sack (recall) their MP (or Councillor or MEP) between elections, a longstanding Green Party policy, should be an important general election issue. Its one of my three key election messages as the Green candidate standing in Bristol East against my MP Kerry McCarthy. It will feature in my election address/leaflet along with: making health and wellbeing the measure of progress – the way we care for our elderly, educate our kids, look after our community and environment; and investing for our future - in decent trains, buses, local jobs and strong local communities.

I'll do my best to raise the profile of this issue and other issues of democratic reform. I debated this issue with Kerry McCarthy on her blog a while back - she opposed giving voters the power to sack MPs between elections saying,

'...I understand why you're suggesting what you're suggesting, but I think it would be hugely open to abuse...'

Scroll down through the comments section of Kerry's blog post here to look over what was said in full. I'd also like to point you to a blog entry of mine from the year before the expenses scandal surfaced (here), where I'm expressing concern about the way MPs pay as well as expenses is determined, arguing for paying MPs only what they need to do their job, no more, no less (to be assessed using a system similar to the one the Joseph Rowntree Trust used to determine categories of need).

The Guardian said this about the latest official report on MPs expenses: The system of MPs' expenses was today condemned as "deeply flawed" with blame heaped on both MPs and the Commons fees office as 390 politicians found to have been in breach of allowances rules were told to pay back more than £1m.

Sir Thomas Legg's report (pdf)* into MPs' spending over five years, published today, concludes that there was a "culture of deference" in which fees officials felt obliged to pay MPs' claims regardless of the evidence they presented and in some cases the rules of the system.

Out of £55.5m spent on second-home expenses during the years under review, 390 MPs have been ordered by Legg to repay a total of £1.3m. Some £800,000 has been received and around £500,000 is still outstanding.

More than half – 52% – of the 752 current and former MPs who were investigated have been asked to repay cash....

BBC News report on the Legg report into expenses here.

MPs' expenses – live | Politics |

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MPs' expenses – live Politics