So – the Speaker is going to court to try to keep secret the details of MPs‘ second homes expense claims. Well, he doesn’t speak for me when doing that!
I’ve got an open mind on the security benefits of keeping the addresses of the homes secret – especially as if you know an MP is at Parliament, that might be a good time to burgle … and for most MPs they’re not – for example – the addresses which get published anyway on nomination papers at election time.
But – goodness me – that’s no excuse to keep everything else secret.
Why not publish all the other details straight away, here and now – even if there is going to be further discussion over the addresses? That would be the act of an organisation that really believes in openness and understands the crisis in public confidence.
Instead – yet again we seem to have the Parliamentary authorities looking for excuses to avoid doing the right thing rather than finding the best way of dealing with any minor fallout from doing the right thing.
UPDATE: My colleague Norman Baker (MP for Lewes) has put it well in the papers today, “I think it sends entirely the wrong signal that the House of Commons will appear in the public’s eye to be resisting a tribunal decision and we will look as though we are trying to protect our own backs. I am sympathetic to the point that MPs’ addresses should not be made public. I think they have a right to query that point but no more.”
UPDATE 2: Nick Clegg has now written to the Speaker on the topic.