Thursday, 22 January 2009

Call to 'open the books' over MPs' expenses

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 and 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 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."


Anonymous said...

“And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.”

Barack Obama, Inauguration Speech

Anonymous said...

Mm...Is it right Gwersyllt Community Council paid over £500 for Councillors and partners to go to the Mayor's Ball!!

Anonymous said...

Why don't all the Plaid councillors lead by example and put their expenses up on this blog? Why wait for the other parties to be dragged into it when you can do it yourself!

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

Not a problem what do you want to know - Members Allowances and Special Responsibility Allowances are fixed by WAG fo ALL Councillors in Wales. I'm surprised you didn't know that but there again that's why some people are always in hot water because they either do not know the rules or are so arrogant to think that the rules do not apply to them. I think the latter applies to you and your colleagues.

plaid whitegate said...

All Wrexham County Borough Councillors receive £12,681 a year as flat-rate taxeable allowance. All councillors who are co-chairs or lead members receive an additional allowance of about £6,000 a year.
Every political group gets co-chairs and Exec Board members according to their relative size. Plaid has 4 councillors and get one co-chair and one lead member.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

Some Councillors also receive an allowance as members of the Fire Authority and Police Authorities...some will also claim expenses for everything others will not...which is why we want everyones figures published so we can compare like with like.
Go to Conwy County Council website which will give you an idea of expenses claimed.

Anonymous said...

" I think the latter applies to you and your colleagues."

I work in a pub, no expenses at all for me or my mates...Are you always this paranoid?

Are the expenses and allowances you claim the same thing then, or can you claim expenses on top of allowances? If so, what do you claim?

Is it covered by freedom of information and can I get details from the council?

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

You may or may not get them via FOIA because they are personal information they may be protected by the Data Protection can always try. I don't have a problem which is why I want all of them published.

Anonymous said...

Whilst you are busy doing FOIA requests for Plaid Councillors why don't you throw one in for Gwersyllt Community Council and ask how many went to the Mayors Ball at taxpayers expense £500+ and also failed to declare a gift or personal'll never guess which party most of those 'freeloaders' belonged to.

plaid whitegate said...

"Are the expenses and allowances you claim the same thing then, or can you claim expenses on top of allowances? If so, what do you claim?"

As I said, the allowances are standard for everyone. I know people can claim expenses on top of that if they have to go away on council business (hotel, mileage, etc).

Anonymous said...

Figures in brackets are ranks. Parliament's explanatory notes.

Type 2006/07 (ranking out of 645) 2005/06 2004/05 (ranking out of 659) 2003/04 (ranking out of 658) 2002/03 (ranking out of 657) 2001/02 (ranking out of 657)
Additional Costs Allowance £20,837 (360th) £16,200 £17,121 (426th) £12,704 (525th) £18,261 (411th) £11,615 (527th)
London Supplement £0 £0 £0 £0 £0 £0
Incidental Expenses Provision £21,604 (joint 201st) £20,345 £19,294 (149th) £18,670 (357th) £18,177 (joint 293rd) £24,240 (81st)
Staffing Allowance £66,498 (610th) £65,618 £64,923 (549th) £66,693 (385th) £64,399 (329th) £38,211 (548th)
Members' Travel £9,046 (268th)* £9,269 £9,223 (362nd) £9,483 (342nd) £10,201 (314th) £7,855 (327th)
Members' Staff Travel £144 (358th) £1,037 £866 (204th) £1,774 (70th) £921 (181st) £660 (203rd)
Centrally Purchased Stationery £423 (562nd) £446 £449 (538th) £855 (327th) £1,350 (203rd) £874 (381st)
Stationery: Associated Postage Costs £1,435 (515th) £2,169 £1,712 (453rd) £3,175 (245th) N/A N/A
Centrally Provided Computer Equipment £989 (joint 432nd) £0 £1,834 (joint 418th) £1,834 (joint 412th) £1,834 (joint 398th) £1,834 (joint 363rd)
Other Costs £0 £0 £0 £0 £0 £0
Total £120,976 (546th) £115,084 £115,422 (484th) £115,188 (412th) £115,143 (275th) £85,289 (396th)

* Car £803 (547th). Rail £7,780 (72nd). Air £229 (201st). European £234 (117th).
Ian lucas

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

How about Leslie Griffiths claiming £2000 for a sofa. This needs some explaining