Monday, June 09, 2008

MEPs need financial "code of conduct"

All candidates for the European Parliament elections next year should be expected to sign a code of conduct requiring them to meet high standards of financial probity.

Chris Davies, the Liberal Democrat MEP who in February revealed the contents of a secret auditors’ report detailing the misuse of public money by some parliamentarians, says that party leaders should come together to frame a new agreement.

He claims that significant reforms supported by all British MEPs are repeatedly blocked in the European Parliament because of opposition from members elsewhere.

He said: "The Giles Chichester affair has provoked another furore over MEP expenses in the UK, but there will not be a mention of it in the Italian, Greek or Romanian press.

"The European Parliament may be incapable of reforming itself. Dutch, Scandinavian and British campaigners will never secure a majority in favour of radical improvement while there is no pressure on others to vote for change."

Mr Davies wants the political parties in Britain to negotiate an agreement between themselves that will lay stress on financial transparency and annual independent auditing of MEPs’ accounts.

"We may not be able to bring about reform of all European Parliament procedures," he said, "but at least we can give an assurance to British voters that the representatives they elect will set high standards of financial probity,"

Commenting on allegations that North West Conservative MEP Den Dover had paid £758,000 to his wife and daughter out of his secretarial expenses allowance Mr Davies said:

"I doubt that Den Dover has broken any parliamentary rules, but this simply highlights that there is something very wrong with the rules. Most people hearing this news will rightly believe that they are capable of being flagrantly abused."

(Since Chris Davies issued this statement, we have learned more about the exploitation of lax EU financial controls by Conservative MEP John Purvis.)
Post a Comment