MP’s diary entries and expenses

I am currently reading the third of the Alan Clark Diaries (Called The Last Diaries) and found an interesting entry early on. It is on p8 of the 2003 paperback edition. It is revealing of Alan Clark’s attitudes.

MoD, Thursday, 28 February [1991]

There is now talk of a General Election in June. Just time to claim, massively, some allowances out of 91-92!

[I have removed the rest of the entry, but it doesn’t change the meaning.]

I doubt anyone would be surprised by that! Clark’s diaries are amazing reading and easily obtained second hand.

Another interesting quote is in Chris Mullin’s diary. I think this one shows how easy it is for people to end up becoming part of an institution.

Wednesday, 1 May [2002]

Andrew Mackinlay dropped a little bombshell at this afternoon’s meeting of the parliamentary committee. Apparently, under the Freedom of Information Act, by January 2005 MP’s expenses will be subject to public scrutiny, retrospectively. Goodness knows what mischief that will cause. ‘We are in a jam,’ said Robin Cook. ‘Few members have yet tumbled to the juggernaut heading their way.’ He said he had been advised that we could probably get away with publishing headline figures and it would be desirable to start publishing a year before the deadline so that any fuss would have died down come the general election. It was agreed not to minute the discussion.

[My emphasis and I have removed a second unrelated paragraph from the entry. p284-5 of the hardback first edition. The Parliamntary Committee mentioned is a Labour Party committee to allow backbenchers and the government to stay in touch (see the preface and p226).]

I have a lot of respect for Mullin but this isn’t good. I will be careful to note that he doesn’t record his view on this, merely reports the committee results, but it is fair to note that he didn’t kick off a stink about the decision. It is clear he knew that the claims had issues (“mischief” would result, a “juggernaut”, the expectation of “fuss”) and agreed to conceal both this (headline only) and the discussion (minutes).

I think what this shows is how easy it is to become loyal to institutions and organisations when you belong to them however honourable and independent you may be.

I am surprised this passage hasn’t been picked up on more.

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Filed under Alan Clark, books, Chris Mullin, MPs, MPs expenses

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