Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Regulation and Trust

I normally try to avoid blogging on the same subject more than once, but will do so now on the subject of MPs and expenses. 

The revelations continue (see the BBC's list today) and my faith in MPs as a whole is possibly damaged beyond repair - certainly for the current class of MPs - and I'm not sur
e I had that much regard for them in any case. There are three main problems for me:
  1. The "I was following the rules" excuse. I have a real problem with any individual suggesting that they have no moral compass themselves and instead are simply looking at the letter of a rule or procedure and following that. Not only that - some MPs seem to suggest that if no rule exists to stop a form of behaviour, then they are free to do it. This excuse suggest not only a lack of ethics on the part of those hiding behind the excuse, but an ignorance of how non MPs might react to the use of this excuse.
  2. The "It was the Speaker's fault for not regulating the system properly" excuse. It may well be true that Speaker Martin was incompetent, but let's take this excuse to an extreme. I've never been charged with murder, and never seen a murder investigation in action. Some cases would suggest that there can be problems in murder investigations and, undoubtedly, some murderers are never caught. Does that suggest that, were I to commit a murder and get caught, that the system is to blame because it did not stop me sufficiently? No - of course not.
  3. The "It was the broken system at fault" excuse. Yes it was. Sadly for the current batch of MPs, it's their system. How many MPs complained last year about lax regulation and a dodgy expenses system. Not enough. I seem to remember a close vote about the release of the expenses information and a plan to release it in July when MPs would be away from the prying eyes of the media.
There is something desperately wrong with an individual - whether an MP or a banker or anyone else - who's excuse for at best immoral behaviour is that there were rules covering this behaviour.

I didn't think I could be shocked by MPs any more, but they have managed it. The defence of the system last year is incredible (see here) and certainly helped to engender a culture of, if not expense fiddling, certainly one of screwing the system for all it's worth. That elected MPs should be have in this manner is appalling. I am equally shocked by the reaction of some MPs to being "caught out". Stepping down at the next election is no good. They will continue to claim a full salary and presumably full allowances until a date up to a year in the future. They should go now and, if there has been wrong-doing rather than "just" immoral behaviour, they should be prosecuted immediately.

Heads should roll - and many of them.


Update 2 - 28/05/2009:
More going - but, again, not until the next election. Good - but not good enough. They should go immediately.

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