We have problems with our MPs and Peers taking the Taxpayer for a ride over Expenses and Allowances amid evidence of wide-spread unacceptable abuses but these are, apparently, as nothing when compared with the activities of members of the European Parliament, some of whom are engaged in wholesale looting of the public purse, all the while protected by a veil of secrecy.
Chris Davies, Liberal ‘Democrat’ MEP for the North-West of the UK is a member of the Budget Control Committee of the European Parliament. As he told BBC’s Today Programme (listen here), he discovered, quite by chance, that Parliament’s auditors had made a report detailing abuses on a vast scale, abuses that suggest some MEPs are simply plundering the system to enrich themselves.
He, notwithstanding that he is a member of the Budget Control Committee, was only allowed to see the report on condition that he signed all sorts of confidentiality agreements, read the report in a sealed “secret room”, protected by biometric locks and security guards and neither made a copy of nor took notes of the report. And we thought we had problems over the concealment of information about MPs expenses and allowances!
Mr. Davies said the report contained accounts of abuse – let’s call a spade a spade here and call it theft and fraud – on a truly shocking scale. Though individuals were not named he made it clear that the extent of the embezzlement and fraud was on such a scale that it could only be met with condign prison sentences for some of those engaged in such practices.
OLAF, the EU Fraud Squad, had not yet heard of this report which makes one wonder if attempts are being made to bury it so as not to rock the boat and to conceal from the European people the extent to which MEPs are looting the public purse for their own enrichment.
Davies made a number of politically rather incorrect statements about where he reckons the worst offenders come from and it is not from the UK, Scandinavia, The Netherlands or Belgium.
So widespread is the abuse that the AVERAGE amount being nicked is £125,000 for each one of the Parliament’s 785 MEPs. So bad is the situation that Hans-Gert Pöttering, its president, and a group of senior Euro-MPs are desperately trying to find ways of take measures to ensure that there was no “collateral damage” from the report (which presumably means trying to ensure that their heads do not roll as a result of their failure to act in the matter which would thus have the effect of removing them from the gravy train). The excuse being given for this exercise is laughable :
“We want reform but we cannot make this report available to the public if we want people to vote in the European elections next year.”
Some might think that publication would actually increase turnout at these elections when the people of Europe realise just why all these largely Europhile MEPs love the European Union and its Parliament so much. Perhaps then they might turn to some more Eurosceptic politicians of their own, less inclined to view the European Parliament as a milch cow upon whose hind teat they can fasten. That, one suspects, is what the source really meant: “We are frightened for our own place on the gravy train”.
Even more laughable is the explanation that the document is not being kept secret as such, merely confidential, a circumlocution that is both worthy of Sir Humphrey Appleby of Yes Minister and Orwellian:
“The document is not secret. It is confidential. It can be read by Euro-MPs on the budget control committee, in the secret room but not generally. That is not the same as a secret document nobody can read.”
So that is all right then.
What is clear, though, is that the public interest demands that this document be published forthwith so that the people who pay for all this, Europe’s Taxpayers, can see what is going on. That way they can decide if they wish to continue to vote for the likes of Herr Hans-Gert Pöttering and those who have got their snouts in the EuroTrough. There can be no reasonable excuse for concealing it a day longer.
But the European Parliament being what it is, The EuroSwine will doubtless fight tooth and trotter to prevent this happening.