WHAT is it about MPs and their expenses?
It’s not so long since we had the outing of Tory Derek Conway for paying his sons £80,000 from Parliamentary allowances.
This was followed by the allegations that Peter Hain and Wendy Alexander had failed to declare donations.
Even House of Commons speaker Michael Martin is facing investigation over claims of improper use of Air Miles.
Now we are having to put up with the ungracious spectacle of MPs fighting a move to publish a detailed breakdown of how they spend our money on staff, second homes and travel.
The real motivation, in the eyes of many, is that MPs want to prevent potentially embarrassing information about their own activities becoming public knowledge.
It seems a classic example of “looking after number one” and is more bad news for Parliament’s reputation.
Actions such as these breed the kind of public cynicism about politics that has proved so damaging and caused turnouts at elections to plummet.
We already live in a country where access to information is tightly controlled or restricted. This is perfectly right and proper where state security or major criminal investigations are at stake. However, such restrictions were not designed to be used and abused by MPs to protect their own petty interests.
MPs have bought extra time before being forced to release the most detailed breakdown of their expenses so far.
The data relating to allowance claims for staff, second homes and travel was ordered for release by yesterday after a long-running battle under the Freedom of Information Act.
But the House of Commons authorities negotiated an extension to the deadline until after the Information Tribunal delivers its verdict on an appeal against a similar ruling.