Events are moving very rapidly in terms of the Speaker of the House of Commons. I have written previously in this blog of my dismay at his abject performances. Both opinion polls and comment on the doorstep are showing the huge damage being done to the institutions of democracy by the whole ghastly story of misuse (and sometimes worse) of expenses by MPs. Over the weekend I joined Lib Dem parliamentary candidates from around the UK in an open letter to the Speaker calling on him to address the issues without delay.
He has to claim the moral high ground rather than continuing to defend the status quo. Other Hertfordshire Lib Dem candidates to join me were Sal Brinton (Watford), Nigel Quinton (Hitchin & Harpenden) and Paul Zukowskyj (Welwyn Hatfield). I continue to believe that politics is an honourable profession. MPs can make a real difference to the lives of their constituents. People have to have confidence in the wider democratic process. The longer this disaster takes to unfold, the more damage is being done to the British parliamentary democracy.
The full text of the letter is as follows: Dear Mr Speaker, As Parliament continues to be dragged down by the allowance system, and its rules, the role of those in public service across the country is being undermined. We are Liberal Democrat candidates seeking to be elected to Parliament and yet we find ourselves disappointed, and frustrated, at the way in which this matter is being handled. Every day our residents are telling us loudly that this must stop and this must stop now. Three things stand out:
• The resistance to the releasing of these documents and the attempt to exclude Parliament from the Freedom of Information requirements
• The way in which Norman Baker and Kate Hoey were treated when they sought to raise legitimate concerns
• The fact that, through you, Parliament could now release the information into the public domain and cut short this parade of drip-fed news and empower MPs and citizens through a new transparent relationship. It is vital that Parliament must become transparent and accountable now.
We call on you, as Speaker of the House, to do everything within your power to force the full publication of all expenses immediately. We also call on you to accept the independent review of MPs expenses and salaries chaired by Sir Christopher Kelly. If you are unable to do this we then ask you to consider your position. Time is running out for politicians of all parties to repair the damage to our democracy. Yours sincerely Sandy Walkington, Liberal Democrat Candidate for St Albans Nigel Quinton, Liberal Democrat Candidate for Hitchin & Harpenden And 54 other Liberal Democrat candidates.