The Telegraph has a sensational scoop today with the leaked information about 13 Cabinet Ministers and their expenses. There seem to be some suspicious things going on such as Brown only having repaid an "oversight" when the Telegraph approached him yesterday, Jack Straw having claimed a full council tax rebate even though he already had a 50% discount on this and others. The revelations certainly do not make for edifying reading. The official line is that no resignations are necessary but I am not so sure and it is not for those involved to decide this. Once the details sink in, we will see how bad the revelations have gone down with the public.
Friday, 8 May 2009
It is also worth noting that the Telegraph has published these in completely unexpurgated form. The way that the Commons plans to publish these officially is to have some of the details blanked out which would have made it difficult to discern some of the anomalies.
The publishing of this information is manifestly in the public interest and the Telegraph were right to do so. However a leak of this sort was largely inevitiable. The Commons has thrown up barrier after barrier to this and on the current timetable they are not planning to release any information officially until July. They should change their minds and publish everything immediately. Otherwise they risk a further drip-drip of information leaking out into the public domain with the timetable controlled by the press who are bound to do this in the way that best sells newspapers, i.e. to eke the story out fot as long as possible and that can only be damaging.
Better to have it all come out in one go, and yes, I am sure there will be further claims that will raise very difficult questions and may even result in resignations and even possible by-elections but at least a line will be drawn under it all and MPs can start to try and recover from this dreadful episode.
Their secretiveness has got them into this mess and they need to get a grip and regaing control. Openness is the only way to do this now.