This morning The Telegraph reported that Conservative MP Sir Peter Viggers would stand down at the next election, at the request of David Cameron, having claimed over £30,000 in gardening-related expenses, including £1600.00 for a floating duck house. Some wags wondered whether it fell under the MPs’ second home category. Another Tory grandee, Michael Fallon, MP, overclaimed £8300.00 in mortgage repayments. Financial News pointed out that both, as members of the Treasury Select Committee, have been fierce in their criticism of the lack of governance, excessive salaries and expenses of executives of failed UK banks such as Royal Bank of Scotland, HBOS, Northern Rock and the financial sector in general. More pertinent, the Treasury Select Committee, a cross-party group, is tasked to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of HM Treasury, with all of its agencies and associated bodies, including HM Revenue and Customs, the Bank of England, the Financial Services Authority and the Royal Mint.
The good news is that so far only two of its 15 members have been found to have only a sketchy knowledge of accounting and principles of sound governance as regards the use of taxpayers’ money, so we should all feel safe that our watchdogs are beyond reproach. Now, back to Tony McNulty, Minister for Welfare and Employment, (who voted strongly against a transparent parliament) and Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, who votes against transparency of any sort. These staunch allies of Gordon were in the frame long before the general mayhem erupted. Why has Brown not acted in the new spirit of hang-em-high and why have we heard nothing about the domestic finances of Mr and Mrs. Balls? I leave it to you to join up the dots.