Monday 9 November 2009

I think I agree with Anne Widdecombe

And I don't often say that. I heard her on the radio, so I don't have the exact words, but she was saying that the Kelly recommendations on expenses are basically a dog's breakfast and will get changed the next time somebody has a sensible look at them.

The one that I find particularly illogical is the ban on employing relatives. It may turn out to be politically necessary, given the mood of the public, and the determination of our political leaders to be hairier shirted than thou, but I don't think it is administratively necessary or sensible. Leaving aside the reductio ad absurdum about where you draw the line, I think it is a bad principle. OK, some MPs have abused the position, but it's those abuses that should be dealt with, not the entire system. People break the speed limit every day but we don't ban cars because of that. The case everybody remembers is Derek Conway, whose action in paying his son a full time wage out of public funds to do nothing was frankly fraudulent and should have been the subject of legal action. If it couldn't be, then the accountability and enforcement of the system needs to be changed, not the system itself. People paid with public money should be subject to rules of accountability, like timesheets, and rules of enforcement, like spot checks, carried out of behalf of their employer, the public. If they're not prepared to put up with that, then they can get jobs elsewhere. If they want to take public money for the job they do,m then they should be subject to scrutiny. Proper scrutiny rather than banning the whole practice is the sensible and proper answer here.

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