Well, HERE'S a surprise...

Gordon Brown promised that details of MPs' expenses going back over the last four years would be published "within a few days" recently. We'll have to wait until October for the full report but, surprise surprise, it seems we'll only be getting a heavily-edited version.

Of course, it was obvious that information such as
bank details, private addresses and similar would be censored - there's no reason for information of that type to be made public, but a cross party Estimate Committee has now stated that there will be no change in plans to also remove data other than that protected by law.

Geoffrey Robinson, Labour's MP for Coventry North West who has been called "saintly" since it emerged his expenses were among the lowest of all MPs (though let's not forget that he was forced to relinquish his treasury position in 1998 after widespread controversy over his business dealings and background), has questioned whether or not the Committee's actions are legal and is awaiting an answer from Commons leader Harriet Harman as to whether or not publication can go ahead according to the current plans. Hugh Tomlinson QC, who led the campaign to get the details published under the Freedom of Information Act, says that redactions of this kind will breach existing court orders.

Geoffrey Robinson, though considered "saintly" in comparison to some MPs and their expenses claims, is nevertheless a close ally of Gordon Brown and is awaiting information from Harriet Harman as to whether or not the expenses details can be published in heavily edited form. It should be noted that as a multi-millionaire, he probably doesn't need financial help in the form of Parliamentary allowances. Though in the interests of fairness, that didn't stop many others.

"It can only be assured by a legal view from the government that is being obtained from Harriet Harman and we look forward to getting this," says Mr. Robinson. Ms. Harman is herself a QC.

As the Government desperately tries to show the public that they can be trusted in the hope of perhaps having a
slightly less embarrassing time come the General Election than they did in last week's council elections, can they really not see that if we are to ever put faith in them again we need full details?

Protecting the MP who bought something a bit embarrassing from a
Dutch mail-order company may seem a necessary act, but we need to know it all just so we're certain that we're also getting the full low-down on what all the other MPs have been up to (details on just 150 MPs have been printed in the news to date). We need to know.

Parliament has dug itself into such a deep hole that only
100% transparency and honesty can ever pull it back out. If they leave out anything other than data protected by law, we just cannot be certain that we're getting the full story.

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