Also from The Letter
Even the National MPs are beginning to realise that there are real problems with the Auditor-General’s report. Kevin Brady has ruled the expenditure on the Pledge Card unlawful not because it was electioneering but because it was not for a parliamentary purpose. This has significant ramifications.
MPs have free parliamentary travel for any purpose. They can and do fly to attend weddings, funerals, to go on holiday and to politic. MPs have free, unlimited telephone, fax and email. They have research units that can research any topic. The Auditor-General has ruled that any expenditure by an MP that does not have a “parliamentary” purpose is illegal and has recommended all expenditure be pre-approved.
No-one in parliamentary service wants to pre-approve every MPs expenditure. It would take an army of civil servants. What is a parliamentary purpose? Dr Mark Prebble the State Service Commissioner has been called in to find a solution.
Rodney Hide has the answer. Bulk fund MPs and then make them publish their expenditure. Why shouldn’t the taxpayer know how MPs spend their money? There are persistent parliamentary rumours of MPs who have used their free flights to visit mistresses. If all expenditure was forced to be published it might cause divorces but we would have known that Labour was using the taxpayer to fund the pledge card.