Friday, 16 October 2009

Why wait for the general election before resigning?

David Wilshire, the Conservative MP for Spelthorne (Surrey/Middlesex), who has been exposed as channelling public money into a company run by himself and his SO, has announced, clearly under pressure from his party leader, that he will not stand for election again. (Jonathan Calder has more of the background.) But surely the nature of the offence is prima facie so serious, bordering on the criminal, that he should have been advised to stand down immediately?

Pam Giddy advises MPs complaining about being asked to return expenses & allowances: "when you are in a hole, stop digging".

It is unfortunate that the Liberal Democrat leader got the taxpayers to fund his redecorations. (For the rest of the LibDem record, see Liberal Voice.) However, both Nick Clegg and Conservative leader David Cameron put their hands up and have agreed to pay back their excessive claims without demur. Unfortunately, too many Labour and Conservative members are continuing to whine about "unfairness".

The main complaint now appears to be that Sir Thomas Legg, the retired senior civil servant charged with cleaning up after the expenses scandal, is changing the rules. (Incidentally, I confess to a wry grin, when the Legg letters were first made public, that strict civil service standards, which I and my colleagues used to groan about, were being applied to politicians' claims.) Just because the Fees Office passed dubious claims does not make those claims retrospectively right. One might as well say that one should not be charged with old crimes because the local police turned a blind eye at the time. Honourable members (and let us remember that the majority are still honourable) have to attest that any expenditure must be incurred wholly, exclusively and necessarily in the performance of parliamentary duties.

What part of "wholly, exclusively and necessarily" don't they understand?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Could we possibly ask Sir Thomas Legg for a copy of the letters he send out to local MPs under FOI?