The heavily edited publication of expenses has done more damage to an institution under fire.
Many people want an institution which does more, costs less, and is more open.
We have discussed – and by a large majority agreed – on this site that Parliament needs to stand up against both the UK executive and Brussels, and assert more of the rights, interests and views of the British people.
We also need a Parliament which is better at controlling the costs of the whole UK public sector. To do so, it needs to be able to show it can control its own costs and give value.
As an MP I am frustrated that there is no effective opportunity to review, challenge or help control the costs of Parliament itself. There is no annual event when someone presents the accounts, takes responsibiltiy for the budgets, and proposes the budgets for the following year, to be followed by a decent debate. Scheduled debates on the annual estimates of spending for the whole national budget rarely allow detailed investigation of the costs of Parliament, and if anyone tried to use time for this purpose there would be no-one responsible responding or prepared to change what was going on. There is no Minister driving value for money.
It is true that there are similar problems in applying effective scutiny to much larger budgets under Ministerial control, but at least with say the welfare budget there is a named Minister responsible and an opportunity during the year to highlight the departmental budget, with a special Select Committee which can also review it.
Parliament needs to get a lot better at controlling and challenging all public spending. The Speaker candidates have not so far addressed this crucial issue. It would be good if under a new Speaker new ways were found to show we are in charge of our own total costs, as a prelude to doing a better job at getting value for money from the rest of public spending.