Surprising turn of events reported in the Guardian:
Gordon Brown today retreated from plans to exempt MPs’ expenses from the Freedom of Information Act.
The surprise announcement made during prime ministers questions follows the collapse overnight of a bipartisan agreement between Brown and David Cameron, the Tory leader, to back a parliamentary order exempting MPs’ expenses from the act. The move came after he was challenged by a Tory backbencher over why he was in favour of keeping them secret.
It means that plans to issue 1.2m receipts for MPs’ expenses over the past three years are likely to go ahead within weeks.
The decision is a major victory for freedom of information campaigners and follows growing opposition led by the Liberal Democrats to the proposal, and website campaigns urging the public to email their MP objecting to the move.
Whilst we of course welcome the outcome – no special measures for MPs – we can’t help but be puzzled by the background hinted at in the report. Bipartisan agreement? Have the Tories reneged in the face of public opinion? Was our own leadership consulted? Who knew what and when? Is it time to rename the hashtag from #MPexpenses to #Expensesgate ?
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