What a great victory it was for grass roots politics when the internet garnered thousands of people to oppose the Government's secretive and underhanded attempt to exempt MP's and Peers expenses from public scrutiny and the Freedom of Information Act. Can't wait to see Ian Lucas's and Martyn Jones. Anyone who is interested in open and transparent government need to link up to mysociety.com and theyworkforyou.com and start campaigning and finding out what your elected representative do and whether they are there for the 'jollies' the 'freebies' or the 'gravy train' Following is a Press Release:
MPs' expense claims should be open for all to see, according to a Plaid Cymru Parliamentary candidate.
Councillor Arfon Jones, Plaid's candidate for Wrexham at the next General Election, said MPs should face the same scrutiny as Welsh Assembly Members, who have to account for all their spending.
He welcomed the Government climbdown on the matter after MPs attempted to keep their expenses secret from campaigners and the general public. Cllr Jones added:
"It was fortunate for open government and transparency that Freedom of Information internet campaigners launched a massive lobby which forced the Government into an u-turn. I congratulate the campaigners of mysociety.com and others on this very succesful campaign which just shows what people power can achieve."It was the thousands of people who lobbied their MPs that succeeded in forcing the Government into this humiliating U-turn."
Members of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly already declare their expenses but MPs and Peers have been forceful in their resistance to the public finding out about their lifestyles. Cllr Jones said:
“It is a disgrace that MPs and Peers are refusing to be accountable to their electors. We've seen abuses of the system exposed by transparency in the Assembly, notably the Tory leader's iPod bought with public money. It would seem that the MPs resistance means that they have something to hide and we need to know. It's time to open the books.”
Cllr Jones has also raised the matter of allowing the public access to the expenses of Wrexham councillors with both the Chief Executive and the Leader. Cllr Jones said:
"In the interests of openess and transparency it is essential that the public knows where public money goes to and the more open we are, the more likely the public is to engage with politicians and trust elected representatives. We should publish our expenses and attendance record on the council website for all to see just like councillors in Conwy do.”
Cllr Jones said he was also concerned about whether Community Councils were transparent enough. He said:
"The Code of Conduct applies to Community Councils but how many Community Councillors declare personal interests or make declarations of gifts if they have received any personal benefit? In my experience this is an area of accountability that has considerable room for improvement."