Thursday, 21 May 2009

Independent Statutory Body (2)

Following the earlier post on this subject, the briefing paper, entitled 'Proposals For Fundamental Reform Of The Parliamentary Allowances System can be downloaded here.

Initial reaction:

" must be fully transparent; it must be operated independently of the MPs who benefit from it; it must cost less than the current system....." and "The knowledge that all future claims will be subject to public scrutiny and debate provides the best possible protection against inappropriate and extravagant exclaims in the future."

If the fact being 'subject to public scrutiny and debate provides the best possible protection' why the expense of an 'independent statutory body' - which it seems will be appointed by those who are to be 'regulated', at an unknown cost - when this function can and should be carried out by the constituents of the individual MPs? Is it not up to us, the people who provide the funding for MPs to be the judge of what is 'right and proper' - be that expenses, allowances or conduct?

"The Government is therefore proposing to consult widely....." and "Consultation - These are issues for consultation on which all views will be sought." To consult widely with whom and how? All views will be sought - including that of the public? If 'widely' and 'public' turns out to be 'independent', 'government funded' bodies, then such 'consultation' is pointless and worthless.

"Any move to such a system would need to be a decision made by Parliament itself which remains sovereign but chooses to cede specific delegated powers." - Not without the express permission of those, the electorate, that put MPs in Parliament. It must arguably be a fact that the power Parliament has is only that delegated by the people to their elected representatives, ie MPs.

"Transparency - the body will want to be transparent in all of its procedures, codes and rules - consulting on them........." - Again, consulting with whom and how?

"Separating functions - In constituting this new body care will need to be taken to split the functions of authorising payment from the function s scrutinising that -payment. The two roles are different and the reforms will need to reflect the separation of those powers." - Sorry, lost me there! If one is 'scrutinising' expense/allowance claims, one is checking that they are 'allowable' and thereby in sanctioning as 'allowable' said claim(s) one is also 'authorising' - is one not? Yet again this exhibits the bureaucratic tendency to 'create work'.

"The new body would be appointed by Parliament to work independently of Parliament. Its members could be appointed following fair and open competition......" and "It is the intention that a new body replaces existing costs rather than adds to the overall costs of administration."

Firstly, Dizzy has already covered the point that those in Parliament, who are guilty of 'abuse' should not be those appointing a body to regulate themselves. 'Its members could be appointed following fair and open competition' - WTF, 'could be'!? 'Should be' more like it and those appointment hearings/interviews should be open to the public and, perhaps, televised! And who is to adjudicate on these appointments? With regard to the 'intention that a new body replaces existing costs rather than adds to', that would be a first - whereby one bureaucratic body replaces another without an increase in costs!

The foregoing does not even begin to touch on the duplication of the functions of the Committee of Standards in Public Life, the Parliamentary Commission for Standards and the Standards and Privileges Committee, which, basically, it is intended should remain as 'self-regulating' committees - something, one believed, was exactly what was to be avoided.

In conclusion,
"It is clear that extensive work and consultation will be necessary......" - Too bloody true and perhaps a first step would be for the author of this particular apology of a proposal to go away, tear it up and begin again!

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