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No excuse for MPs to conceal expenses.

Byline: Joe Riley

AS the government continued to fritter away our money - upping its stake in one pounds 28bn-lossmaking bank to 70% - the Fat Controller and his Westminster storm-troopers had thought today a good time for burying more bad news about their own financial shenanigans.

After last year's expose of inflated and abused second homes allowances, MPs were at it again.

Trying to set themselves above the law and stifle details of their expenses.

Something which would be pounced upon as fraud in any private company.

Twixt general pandemonium and this week's 200bn second bank bail-out, Harriet Harman, Leader of the House, announced a vote exempting MPs from the Freedom of Information Act.

That is until, with less than 12 hours to go, the scam was thwarted through media pressure.

Prior to that, Harman argued that collecting receipts and then scanning them into a computer, would not be "worth it."

B******s!

Parliaments worldwide, including both houses of the US Congress, demand itemisation of expenses.

However, after paying lipservice to greater open- ness, the government was caught attempting to retrench and perpetuate MPs' murky world of secrecy.

Instead, the prime minister should take his cue from President Barack Obama's first-day anti-sleeze declaration: "We should never forget that we are here as public servants, and public service is a privilege. We are not here to advantage ourselves."

Remember, also all that House of Commons ID cards twaddle about having nothing to hide, so nothing to fear.

A good start would be for MPs to hold the mirror up to their own tarnished images.

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SECRECY: Harman
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 22, 2009
Words:266
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