Expenses to be published "within the next few days"

Gordon Brown has announced that, under his new Parliamentary reforms, all expenses claims made by MPs in the last four years will be published on the Internet "within the next few days." Acid Rabbi can't wait.

He also promised that a Parliamentary standards authority will be set up and given the power to oversee expenses, while at the same time investigating ways to cut costs which will be of benefit to the tax-payer as money currently spent on MPs can be used for more deserving causes such as the NHS and public services. Although this body will at first have authority only in the Commons, in time its powers will be extended into the Lords. In the meantime, the Upper House's expenses will be investigated by the Senior Salaries Review Body.

Speaking on the subject of constitutional reform - a subject on which the PM has called for "public debate" - Mr. Brown said that new measures will be put into place by the summer allowing for the "recall" of MPs found to have acted dishonestly, which would effectively mean that voters would have the opportunity to get rid of MPs in by-elections inbetween General Elections - currently, unless the MP resigns as has recently been the case with Ian Gibson, the Labour MP for Norwich North, consitituents must wait until the next national vote. Legislation will also be introduced altering the current situation whereby an MP found guilty of a crime or serious misconduct only loses his or her seat if given a gaol sentence greater than one year.

Mr. Brown has also suggested that a special parliamentary commission will be set up and charged with investigating proposed reform of Parliamentary procedures. Amongst other things, this could bring about changes which would make it simpler for the public to enable debates in the Commons and allow freer access to official information.

Had our beloved leaders have chosen to be a bit more honest from the start, they wouldn't look so much like children caught red-handed stealing sweeties.

It's not a bad start. But I bet he wishes he'd thought of all this before the press got hold of the expenses information - we'd still have had our suspicions that the Commons is crooked confirmed, but at least it wouldn't look quite so much as though he and the rest of them would have been perfectly happy to carry on as they had been if only we hadn't found out.

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