Harman Bill : Not Independent, Not Credible

Parliamentary Standards Bill 2009

The government’s Bill introduced by Harriet Harman yesterday proposes establishing a body to be known as the “Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority” and an officer known as the “Commissioner for Parliamentary Investigations”.

The five members of the IPSA will be

“appointed by the Queen upon an Address of the House of Commons. A motion may only be made only with the agreement of the Speaker for a candidate selected on merit on the basis of fair and open competition and approved by a Speaker’s Committee. Members will be removable only in response to an Address of both Houses. There will be requirements that one member of the IPSA should have accountancy experience, that one member should have Parliamentary experience, and that one member be a holder of or have held high judicial office.”

The Commissioner will be appointed the same way.  There will, according to the Bill

“be a Speaker’s Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority charged with exercising the functions given to it under the Bill – in particular, approving the selection of persons to be members of the IPSA and the Commissioner.”

Do you see the flaw in this “independent” Comissioner and Authority?  Members will be drawn from the establishment and their selection approved by the Speaker’s appointees.  Would we permit criminals to choose their own judge and jury?

This is a stitch up, we don’t need more rules and self-selected regulators, we need reform of the expenses system,  together with clarity, transparency and enforcement of the rules.  The voters will kick out MPs if they can identify crooks, in this sense in a democracy voters are the ultimate regulator of politicians.  This whole idea is ill-founded, we don’t need to intermediate democracy with another quango or committee, this approach has already failed.

We need only to empower voters with enough information so that they can determine the truth about those who seek to represent them.  The truth is all we need, not redactions, not more quangocrats.




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