Nothing can seriously move and develop in parliamentary politics in the United Kingdom until the current utterly discredited expenses system is replaced by an open and clear alternative. Yet I see little detailed discussion taking place as to what that alternative should be. Perhaps I have missed out on this and have instead just been carried away by the deluge of negative criticism about MPs which has appeared in the media. I am not for banning this outcry. But I do feel that when the media shouts and yells, it also has a responsibility to analyse, debate and recommend.
Everything in the meantime is being left in the hands of the Inquiry into MPs' Expenses which is being run by Sir Christopher Kelly's Committee on Standards in Public Life (see above photo). Perhaps the media and those who see themselves as "opinion leaders" are just following the leaders of our existing three main parliamentary parties in saying that they will accept whatever Sir Christopher's Committee comes up with.
This does, however, mean that we should be focusing our attention on the Committee's investigations and seeking to influence its outcome. The three main parliamentary parties have, of course, put in their own submissions and their spokespersons have given evidence at the Committee's opening hearing. I don't know whether the Daily Telegraph, the rest of the outspoken media, Esther Rantzen and our network of noisy opinion leaders have done the same.
One problem has arisen since the Committee made 5th June the closing date for submission about MPs' expenses. Up to then it had published 71 such submissions on its web-site. Two more appeared on the morning of 8th June - as these were from the Government and the Lib Dems who were appearing before the Committee that day. But although the Committee holds more than 500 more submissions none of these have emerged although they were all received at least 2 weeks ago. Perhaps Esther's and the rest are in the backlog.
My own submission is certainly held up in the back-log, so I posted it here. Essentially, I propose getting rid of the expenses system altogether and replacing it with the provision of essential services for MPs to be run (or supervised) by an independent outside body. We are now in an age of key-board technology and such a system is by no means beyond us.
To get the debate at the level it needs to be, we need to concentrate on Sir Christopher's enquiry and get him to update his web-site. If you are desperate, there is always my comment box to turn to.
Note 25 June : The first eight comments on this thread have nothing to do with the above subject matter and can fruitfully be ignored.
Note 28 June : There is now a ninth comment which fits the above pattern and given the obsessions of the "Coventrian" (whoever he or she is) there could in time be more.