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New Law to Clean up Parliament: Not Fit for Purpose

The Government’s haste this week in rushing through half-baked emergency measures to clean up politics in the wake of the MPs’ expenses scandal was a big mistake and will only make rebuilding trust in politicians and Parliament more difficult.


23 July 2009 – That’s the verdict of anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International UK (TI-UK) which today sharply criticises the unseemly haste with which the 2009 Parliament Standards Act was rushed into law, so pre-empting the findings of the Committee on Standards in Public Life chaired by Sir Christopher Kelly – due in October.

Chandrashekhar Krishnan, Executive Director of TI-UK explains:

“If the objective was to rebuild the public’s confidence in Parliament’s ability to regulate itself the 2009 Parliament Standards Act will have the opposite effect.

“It enshrines a shocking double standard – more lenient penalties for MPs over false expenses claims than existing laws covering fraud and false accounting. Furthermore, the new Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) will be independent in name only because its members must be approved by the Speaker’s Committee – almost all of whom are MPs. The Authority will also have few teeth – for instance, it has no power to initiate an investigation into an MP.

“This new law has been cobbled together and steamrollered through Parliament in unseemly haste – pre-empting the conclusions and recommendations of the Kelly Committee’s review of MPs’ expenses. We hope that the Committee will not be strait-jacketed by the Act and will exercise independent judgement in its forthcoming October report.”

 
Notes to editors
1. The Parliamentary Standards Act 2009 received Royal Assent on Tuesday 21st July 2009. Full text at http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2009/pdf/ukpga_20090013_en.pdf
2. More information on double standards on penalties for MPs are in TI-UK press release 25 June 2009 at http://www.transparency.org.uk/pressstatements/New_standards_for_MPs_expenses_June09.pdf
3. More information on the Kelly Committee (Committee on Standards in Public Life) Review of MPs’ expenses is at http://www.public-standards.gov.uk/OurWork/MPs_Allowances_0_1.html

 

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