Believe it, or believe it not, but I have a smidgen of sympathy with the three Plaid Cymru MPs who were today found guilty of improperly using their Parliamentary Allowances by the Parliamentary Commissioner for standards, Sir Phillip Mawer. Elfyn Llwyd, Adam Price and Hywel Williams have been ordered to repay £5,ooo each because they were deemed to have spent it as part of the Assembly Election campaign to benefit Plaid Cymru. £15,000 of taxpayer's money used improperly for party political purposes in an election campaign. The smidgen of sympathy does not mean that I do anything but disapprove of what they did - but that I also believe that they have been caught when so many others are breaking the spirit of the preposterous Communications Allowance, which MPs have awarded themselves. I felt utterly nauseated when I heard Labour MP, Wayne David making a huge song and dance about the Plaid Cymru 3 on Radio Wales this afternoon. Hasn't anyone told him that his colleague, Ruth Kelly, a Government Minister was going to do the same thing until she was found out.
This blog has condemned the Communications Allowance on several previous occasions. It was outrageous that MPs distributed glossy 'information literature' (who were they kidding!) in the few days before they thought Gordon Brown was going to call a General Election. Simply because they did not ask for a vote, these glossy leaflets were deemed to be 'communications' which apparently comply with the rules. Distasteful and an affront to democracy. Well legally it might comply - but morally it stinks. Sir Phillip Mawer should conduct an inquiry, particularly into the timing of the expenditure. There should be only one way forward here. The Communications Allowance should be scrapped.