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Mike
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MPs' expenses: history in the shredder
« on: 04 November 2014 »

 rolleyes

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/11205787/MPs-expenses-history-in-the-shredder.html

Quote
MPs' expenses: history in the shredder
This will inevitably raise suspicions that the Commons is once again trying to cover things up

There are former MPs trying to get back into Westminster in 2015 whose would-be constituents are entitled to know what they claimed before in expenses


 Perhaps it is hardly surprising that Parliament wants to erase the expenses scandal from its collective memory bank. But it is still shocking to discover that all official records of what MPs claimed in the years before The Telegraph exposed their dubious and, in some cases, criminal practices have been destroyed.

Kathryn Hudson, the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, has confirmed that no unredacted information is now available “nor any notes of conversations or advice given… which might establish the facts”. The decision means that this news organisation is left with the only unredacted record of that period.

The official explanation for this expunging of history is to comply with data protection laws – though it has more to do with the conventions of the House of Commons, since there is no statutory limit on how long such information can be retained. In February 2012, a committee chaired by John Bercow, the Speaker, decided to bring back the “Authorised Records Disposal Practice”, under which the documentation for expenses claims is disposed of three years after the financial year in which they are settled.

This will inevitably raise suspicions that the Commons is once again trying to cover things up. There are, after all, former MPs trying to get back into Westminster in 2015 whose would-be constituents are entitled to know what they claimed before.

The simple rule of thumb ought to be that information relating to the use, or misuse, of public funds should be kept until the MP concerned retires. Indeed, the House’s own regulations allow for a discretionary exemption for material of “long-term administrative and/or historical value”. Surely the expenses claims that triggered the greatest parliamentary scandal in decades fit the bill.
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