UK MPs to hide their expenses from Freedom of Information requests

Glyn sez, "Harriet Harman MP plans to use a special parliamentary order that can become law within 24 hours after being debated by MPs and peers next week. It will exempt details of all MPs' and peers' expenses from being disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, and nullify all past requests by journalists and campaigners to get them published."
Harriet Harman, the leader of the house, is to use a special parliamentary order that can become law within 24 hours after being debated by MPs and peers next week.

It comes just as MPs were about to be forced, following a victory by campaigners at an information tribunal, to publish 1.2m expenses receipts, covering the period between 2005 and 2008.

In return the government is to increase the number of published categories, such as travel and accomodation, which detail where MPs used their expenses.

Government exempts MPs' expenses from freedom of information (Thanks, Glyn!)


  1. Why don’t they just get it over with and declare the UK a dictatorship? Silly brits, you should have followed the French example in dealing with your aristocracy. It’s never too late ya know.

  2. ” well now, I’m quite sure they know what’s best for us and it’s for our own good you know.” I want the T-shirt rights.

  3. I’m unfamiliar with the issue, but I wonder what the logic is behind the required privacy of expenses/expense reports? Is it that Her Majesty’s government is unwilling to be as frugal as it should be and does not want the public to know how their tax dollars are being spent? Politicians in the USA live well. Too well considering the harm they’ve done to our country.

  4. “Good evening, London. Allow me first to apologize. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of the everyday routine. The security of the familiar, the tranquility…..”

  5. /”Silly brits, you should have followed the French example in dealing with your aristocracy. It’s never too late ya know”

    Think we already tried that with Cromwell etc, – Turns out that absolute power corrupting applies as much to the mortals as it does to the toffs.

  6. If one argues against the UK-government-mooted mega database of all UK email, telephone and internet activity one is told that one shouldn’t worry as after all, if you have done nothing wrong you have nothing to worry about. Put the same argument to MPs about their expenses and it is treated with blank looks and derision. Quelle surprise.

  7. I love the hypocrisy – this coming from the same government who uses “if you’re innocent then you have nothing to hide” as an excuse for stripping away the citizens’ right to privacy. As soon as it comes to a bit of openness from them then they create laws to hide it. I hate this country sometimes.

  8. I think this is fair. Seriously, a number of FOI requests come from Opposition Members of Parliament, who would serve the public miles times better by questioning policy… not others personal expenses.

  9. Sebastiano – the point is, it only takes one request for everybody’s to be visible – there don’t have to be hundreds of separate requests.

  10. Understood. But I just get very frustrated when I hear about MP’s requesting to know how a Minister gets from A-to-B (over the course of a year). Yes, misspending public funds is a thing we must guard against, but this isnt some Magna Carta amendment.

    1. Nelson,

      Because I’m too lazy to look it up, can an (hereditary) noble serve in the Commons? Or is that like a Royal voting?

  11. Hmm. Aren’t these the exact same people who have been passing all the “if you have nothing to hide…” surveillance laws?

  12. Antinous, only if they give up their nobility, as in the famous case of Tony Benn.

    Benn was actually a Labour MP first, being the second son of a viscount, but his brother’s wartime death meant that he became a peer on his father’s death, and was disqualified from retaining his seat. He fought a campaign to change the law, and became the first peer to renounce his peerage under The Peerage Act 1963. He later served in Labour government as Postmaster General, Minister for Technology, and Secretary of State for Industry, and has been active in opposition and retirement.

  13. wld hv sd tht Bsh, s wr crmnl, wld hv bn lgtmt trgt fr ssssntn.
    Lkws, ths n-cnsrvtv/Stlnst N Lbr cntrl frks, brchng s mny fndmntl cvl lbrts, jst wnt tkng th fck t.

  14. The more and more I read articles about present day England, the more I notice how they are becoming representative of the former Stalinist Russia. I’ve watched a movie called ‘V for Vendetta’ and England seems to be only a decade or so away from this realization.

    I’m a yank who is of English, Scottish and Irish ancestry. This is most disturbing to me as I no longer wish to travel to England for holiday. My children are half-Polish. They won’t be going there until they are adults, and now I don’t want to introduce my children to England as it is now becoming similar to the former Communist Poland. Poland is actually starting to become a better and freer country.

    I thought G. W. Bush and the political lackeys in U.S. government helped to destroy America, but England is leading the way by far. Their government seems to be obsessed with power, paranoid and morally bankrupt. This is not a good combination and will lead to a They have the U.S. beat by far. Perhaps this is partially a result from being a great world power to a mediocre one, as many over there are becoming alcoholics? Maybe the U.S. will find itself in a similar position in a few decades?

    It’s just a shame to see this paranoia and abuse of power occur in a country as great as England. The I.R.A. and any other anti-English factions just have to stoke this paranoia and sit back as England implodes on itself. I predict that England will become a Totalitarian or an Oligarchy/Plutocracy state with thirty years.

    I have begun downplaying my British heritage and become vocal about Britain’s impotent citizens as Britain is becoming an international embarrassment. Twenty years ago, while in my late twenties, I thought is would have been great to have been born in England. This could have been my youth or my disdain for the imperial actions the U.S. has done around the world. But now, as we are witnessing a worldwide financial meltdown that is partially attributable to American greed, now as we are in a war with a country that did not provoke us, now as we are living with a government owned by business and special interests, now as we fight to maintain our jobs and homes… I would not trade my citizenship for all of the tea biscuits in England.


  15. Studmoose – with no offence intended, you need to get out more. If you are actually afraid to bring your kids to the UK, or Poland, or pretty much anywhere – you, and they, are missing out.

    Cory posts a lot of articles about britains police and government. This is a good thing, it’s not impotence, it’s protest. You can be sure that he’s not the only one doing it. But as I’m sure you’re aware after 8 years of George W, it’s not that easy to sway government policy.

    That said, I live in the UK and while I’m no fan of the home office – I feel pretty free. I spent about 4 or 5 hours in Central London the other day – I don’t remember even seeing any police. Some weekends I go for a walk in the hills or have a drink in an old village pub – no cops bothering me at all. On the motorway I’ve overtaken cops at 80mph with not even a flash of the lights. All in all, I tend to get about my business without a whole lot of hassle from the police. Exceptions : busted for weed; busted for breaking into an empty house when I was a kid; told off for fighting with friends while drunk. Wasn’t happy about it at the time, but I can’t imagine cops anywhere else being much more lenient. (No more than a telling off for any of the three)

    I make it one of my top priorities to travel as much as possible and experience new people and places without worrying too much about the worst case scenario. Because people not too unlike you live in those places and get along just fine, and if they judged where you live solely by reading negative articles on the internet and extrapolating it into sci-fi hell, they’d probably never visit you either.

    The world is like an acid trip, if you go into it with a postive frame of mind, it can be a wondrous thing.

  16. The reason that the MPs are hiding behind the Freedom of Info Act is they have been caught ripping off the public. In the private sector, they would be fired or preosecuted, and I guess in a way this will happen at the next election. However, they should be made to pay ill gotten gains back. By the by, what happens with the capital gains on the properties they buy with our expense money. Is it refunded to the public purse or do they pocket it. I do note that Blair and Thatcher moved to the USA asap following their loss of office, I suspect many MPs will follow them. Voting with their feet, a sad reflection on living conditions in this country that they caused. These people are truly awful.

  17. The UK is a pretty safe place. The issue visitors have is that it isnt as safe as they are led to expect. Some parts of South London, Birmingham and Manchester are as dangerous as any city in the rest of the world. While UK advertising shows queues, courteous people etc. this isnt true everywhere. Unfortuneatly, tourists encounter things that locals would know to avoid. On this subject, I suspect the Olympics will show the UK in a very bad light. With the recession, most of Europes pick pockets, muggers and other crooks will be attracted to the UK, also, we will be in recession, the hotels and pubs will bilk the tourists and frankly, we will look bad. We have a very unhappy population, broke, unemployed and they will resent well heeled tourists and this will manifest itself in violence, heavy police presence, possible riots.

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