Thursday, June 18, 2009

Commons publication conceals abuses

Campaign for Freedom of Information
Press release: 18 June 2009

The information on MPs' allowances published by the House of Commons today would have made it impossible to detect the most serious abuses revealed by the Daily Telegraph over recent weeks, according to the Campaign for Freedom of Information.

The Campaign said that the blacking out of MPs’ addresses meant that the ‘flipping’ of homes for which allowances were claimed could not be detected. The public could see how much was claimed and for what, but not which property was involved or whether it had changed.

The Campaign’s director Maurice Frankel said: “Last year an amendment to the Freedom of Information Act removed information relating to MPs’ residential addresses from the Act’s scope. This was explained as a measure to protect MPs’ privacy and safety. But it also prevented the ‘flipping’ of second homes being detected. The House of Commons could have overcome this problem, without jeopardising MPs’ safety, by providing a partial postcode or by indicating when an address had changed, but this was not done.”

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