The bill, The
Government Spending (Website) Bill 2006-07, is designed to force Treasury and Departments
to place in a single database all expenditure with explanation 30 days after
the money has been spent.
It originated in the House of Lords in December 06 raised by
Baroness Oakes as a private members bill, and is now being led by Conservative
MP David Gauke. It would require the Treasury to create a government
expenditure website, as well as giving the government the power to extend it to
other public sector bodies, but the government believes it would cost too much.
Debating the issue in Parliament on 29
June 2007, Gauke said that the information should be made more
easily accessible to improve transparency and enable people to engage in
important public debates. “What better way of providing information is
there than putting the details of public expenditure on to a single website, where
people can study it and follow the money to see how government spending is
done?” he said.
Comparing the site to a US
initiative currently under way, whereby any federal expenditure in excess of
$25,000 must be recorded and the details made available on a website accessible
by the public, Gauke admitted that cost would be a key concern. However, he
suggested that such a site could yield savings by reducing the number of
freedom of information requests and parliamentary questions.
“More substantially, given the greater scrutiny for
which the bill provides, we would get better value for money,” added
Gauke. “Some of the most egregious examples of government waste would be
reduced because of the pressure that transparency would bring to bear on the
government and the civil service.”
Responding for the government, Cabinet Office minister
Gillian Merron said the bill was unrealistic on the grounds of cost. Outlining
the amount of public spending data already available through various websites,
she said that “work is already under way in the Treasury to expand further
the quantity of expenditure information on the public website, as well as to
restructure the information to make it easier to navigate and search”.
She added that the bill was in contradiction to Sir David
Varney's review of public service delivery, which was published in December
last year. Quoting from the report, she said it recommends: “a freeze on
the development of new websites providing citizens or business e-services
created by departments, agencies and non-department public bodies”.
Labour MP Andrew Miller said that the big cost was not
building the tool but flowing data into it. “That could only be made
feasible through a great deal more integration between operating systems in
government departments, whereby information from different systems could be
integrated at the press of a button,” he said.
“That would take a leap of faith on the part of
opposition parties, all of which expressed concern, reservations and opposition
to the centralising of data as envisaged in the Transformational Government
Conservative MP Robert Goodwill said the bill was a “no
brainer” and that by placing the information into the public domain via
the single website, citizens would do “the hard work of finding out what
they want to know”. (source)
The decision to progress the bill has been deferred to the next sitting on 19 October
with the government’s view having changed little since January
when I last wrote about this Bill.
So a database to make government accountable = too expensive
A database (NIR) to manipulate the population with = no
matter what the cost.
Anything to stop you really seeing what they spending…..figures are currently published for public consumption approximately 2 years after the expenditure, after being heavily sanitised.
NuLab – Destroying Britain
from the inside out.