On Thursday MPs will vote to against the very transparency they impose on the rest of us. If, in the course of my work, I spend money which I then reclaim from my company I am expected to provide a receipt. For some reason, MPs feel they should be above that sort of thing and not be obligated to prove to the taxpayer what they are claiming back from that very same taxpayer. They are, after all, honourable gentlemen and ladies. But let me not fall into the trap that many journalists all too readily fall into. They do provide receipts for some expenditure for many items, but not all. Some MPs, like Ben Wallace and Douglas Carswell, have voluntarily published the entirety of their expenses.
On Thursday MPs will in effect vote to overturn a High Court ruling which said that all receipts had to be published retrospectively. LibDem MP Jo Swinson has tabled a motion urging "ministers to block or repeal the order in the interest of MPs' and peers' accountability to members of the public". It is endorsed by Tory MP Richard Shepard and Labour's David Winnick. And quite right too. This vote is happening because Harriet Harman did a volte face. The vote is scheduled on a Thursday because she thinks MPs won't bother to turn up. The Guardian says that some MPs are changing their diaries in order to be present and vote down Harman's order.
The My Society Website TheyWorkForYou has started an online campaign to put pressure on MPs to turn up and vote against the order. You can join a Facebook Group to protest, or you can email your own MP and give them your opinion. Alternatively visit They Work For You and follow the suggestions.
The Government will try to whip its MPs into line to support this measure. And there will no doubt be some Tories who go along with them. Each MP who votes for this order will be named and shamed. Not only on this blog, but I hope a lot of others too.
PS If you have a blog, no matter what your political allegiances, please do highlight this issue.