Bourn to step down
Well this is something that has been coming for a while. Countless Private Eye’s, a grilling by the Public Accounts Commission and a great deal of political pressure have each conspired to push Sir John Bourn out of his office at the head of the NAO.
I don’t have much to say that hasn’t been said already on the subject. The NAO is a farce, which is both politically supervised by the government of the day and often ignored completely. It is an office where jobs are under threat of outsourcing and generally no one wants to rock the boat. That such a bon vivant was using taxpayers money to live well, whilst leading an organisation the point of which is to ensure government spending efficiency…well that was just icing on the cake.
The previous coverage of Lib-Dems demanding Sir John Bourn’s resignation made me laugh though. Norman Lamb, MP, commented that there was a great deal of scrutiny for the spending of MP’s, and that should be extended to other parts of government service.
I should be forgiven for chuckling aloud when I read that. MPs are already well paid and basically get additional allowances which amount to them creaming money off. Thousands for running offices in their constituency, thousands for accommodation allowance, travel allowances, family travel allowances…they even get a winding up settlement. Don’t even get me started on the ridiculous situation where Members of Parliament can hold additional positions in the Welsh, Scottish or Northern Irish Assemblies.
The last occurrence in particular should be legislated against even more harshly than it currently is. The government already banned MEP’s from being MP’s; the same rule of thumb should be applied to MSP’s, MLA’s and AM’s. For those looking to investigate the situation, a good paper can be found on the website of parliament.
Then we come to the register of members’ interests. What a fun show that is, demonstrating where else MP’s work and to whom they prostitute themselves whilst they’re meant to be representing their constituents. Actually I have to confess, for the most senior civil servants, it’s even more amusing than for MP’s.
Given that the Tories have threatened to pull out of talks on party funding unless Labour agrees to cap Union donations, the issue of parliamentary prostitution is one to which I will be returning no doubt.