Monday, November 19, 2007

Stealing from the Taxpayer.

Believe it, or believe it not, but I have a smidgen of sympathy with the three Plaid Cymru MPs who were today found guilty of improperly using their Parliamentary Allowances by the Parliamentary Commissioner for standards, Sir Phillip Mawer. Elfyn Llwyd, Adam Price and Hywel Williams have been ordered to repay £5,ooo each because they were deemed to have spent it as part of the Assembly Election campaign to benefit Plaid Cymru. £15,000 of taxpayer's money used improperly for party political purposes in an election campaign. The smidgen of sympathy does not mean that I do anything but disapprove of what they did - but that I also believe that they have been caught when so many others are breaking the spirit of the preposterous Communications Allowance, which MPs have awarded themselves. I felt utterly nauseated when I heard Labour MP, Wayne David making a huge song and dance about the Plaid Cymru 3 on Radio Wales this afternoon. Hasn't anyone told him that his colleague, Ruth Kelly, a Government Minister was going to do the same thing until she was found out.

This blog has condemned the Communications Allowance on several previous occasions. It was outrageous that MPs distributed glossy 'information literature' (who were they kidding!) in the few days before they thought Gordon Brown was going to call a General Election. Simply because they did not ask for a vote, these glossy leaflets were deemed to be 'communications' which apparently comply with the rules. Distasteful and an affront to democracy. Well legally it might comply - but morally it stinks. Sir Phillip Mawer should conduct an inquiry, particularly into the timing of the expenditure. There should be only one way forward here. The Communications Allowance should be scrapped.

2 comments:

Alex said...

Glyn,

You're once again a refreshing beacon of reason. I welcome your condemnation of the Plaid Cymru MPs, as well as Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly and various Labour MPs, for their misuse of funds when a prospective election was looming. I also agree that the issue of the Communications Allowance seriously needs to be looked at.

However, you should also take issue with some members of your own party, who receive very generous sums from a wealthy industrialist to promote themselves in marginal constituencies- surely this also falls into the category of 'legally complies, morally stinks'?

Glyn Davies said...

alex - There's been a lot of (unjustified in my opinion) criticism of Lord Ashcroft's support of the Conservative Party. He's a major financial donor - but no more so than Lord Sainsbury for Labour or Stuart Wheeler for us. I do understand why people are concerned about large donors - in that they are afraid that influence is being bought - but exactly the same could be said about a Trade Union's donations.

I cannot see why Lord Ashcroft's desire that his donation should be used to professionalise the Party in constituencies where we have a chance of winning should cause such angst. There is an agreed party controlled mechanism for distributing the money.

There is an argument for capping political donations, but it would involve Taxpayer's money being given to political parties - and I do not believe that a majority of the public would support this.