Getting personal with public money

PUBLISHED: 11:59 02 April 2009 | UPDATED: 16:01 11 May 2010

THE SHEER stupidity of our elected representatives perplexes me sometimes. If you were claiming £116,000 in second home expenses - the legitimacy of which is already under investigation by the parliamentary standards commissioner - wouldn t you go over e

THE SHEER stupidity of our elected representatives perplexes me sometimes.

If you were claiming £116,000 in second home expenses - the legitimacy of which is already under investigation by the parliamentary standards commissioner - wouldn't you go over every further claim with a fine toothed comb?

Not so Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, who "mistakenly" included two films of an, ahem, "adult" nature on an expenses form submitted last year. After this "mistake" came to light earlier in the week, Prime Minister Gordon Brown defended his cabinet minister, preposterously suggesting that this should be a "personal matter".

While Mr Brown is right to say that the viewing habits of Ms Smith's husband (the apparent purchaser of said films) are probably best kept out of the public domain, it amazes me that he can try and pass off this blatant misuse of public money as merely a personal concern.

Moreover, there is no law in place to ensure that MPs' expenses are made public in the future, another thing which I find scandalous. Indeed, like the proverbial turkeys voting for Christmas, the Government has even tried to get its own expenses exempted from the Freedom of Information Act. Fortunately the other parties saw sense and refused to support this idea, which would have surely made it easier for "mistakes" to occur in the future without any kind of public scrutiny.

While I agree with David Cameron that this shouldn't be a resignation issue for Ms Smith, in my opinion our minsters have to be accountable every step of the way otherwise it undermines the very notion of democracy in this country. Perhaps this highly embarrassing affair will make Ms Smith and her colleagues a bit more careful in the future? I won't hold my breath on that front.

Have you notice anything different about Royston town centre this week?

That's right, The Crow has moved into its new offices in Angel Pavement. If you're in the area, call in and say hello.

Our new location means I have to take a walk up the High Street every morning, and I've been keeping an eye out for the pigeons which supposedly blight the lives of traders in the town.

This morning I spotted just two of the pesky birds as I made my way up the road, suggesting that maybe the problem isn't as widespread as some might have you believe.

Cllr F John Smith mischievously suggested putting the birds in a pigeon pie at last week's North Herts District Council Royston area committee meeting. But seeing as there are so few of the feathered pests around at present, perhaps a pigeon pasty would be more appropriate size-wise. Time to put in a call to Heston Blumenthal I think.

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