Today’s revelations will increase suspicion of MPs
Some MPs may be looking at the tidied up versions of their expenses published in the blacked out FOI release today and be thinking “if only …” “If only that was all the public got to see.”
It is only the Telegraph’s uncensored version of the receipts that allows us to know about Margaret Moran’s claim for a house in Southampton, David Chaytor’s claim for a phantom mortgage and much more besides.
Harriet Harman just told me in an interview that any problems would’ve come out anyway in the audit of past expenses which is now going to happen. But that’s only taking place as a reaction to the Telegraph’s stories.
Ms Harman also told me that you can tell from the FOI releases if “flipping” was going on because it is clear on utility bills which area MPs are claiming for and which local authority they are paying for council tax.
But it isn’t. The local authority name is blacked out on council tax bills and so is the postal address of the utilities supplier. It will add to suspicions that MPs now proclaiming their love of greater transparency are instinctively secretive or covering up misdeeds.
Harriet Harman didn’t seem to realise that the Information Commissioner had suggested that the first three digits of the second home postcode be included to maximise disclosure without jeopardising security… But she was told just that on 3rd July 2008 (col.1118 – Hansard).