back to article MPs turn to Black Blob to preserve their dignity

When the House of Commons finally published details of MP expenses online, the public may have been left wondering how much more money has been wasted on a fruitless effort to censor the details held in individual claims. The reason that it has taken so long to publish these is the number of documents involved – over a million …

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Anonymous Coward

Snoughts in the trough

It seems for too long many MP's have seen being 'honourable' as equivalent to winning the financially. I hope all these MP's who have abused the system are put where they deserve to be and that is behind bars. None of these excuses that they made a simple error should be accepted as fact.

If so many of they seem to be doing this anyhow, they should resign as incompetent with immediate effect, and let the police decided their motives.

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"Privacy and security", eh?

So ... THEY don't trust US to respect THEIR "privacy and security", but they expect US to give THEM every last detail of our lives, biological makeup etc for their crass, snooping database. Someone remind me - who is supposed to be whose servant here?

And then they wonder why most of us wouldn't trust them as far as we could throw them. I never thougfht I'd find myself saying it, but three cheers for the Daily Telegraph for omitting the black blobs and exposing the black hearts.

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Anonymous Coward

I want to see their telephone logs

I would also like all the information collected under the Data Retention Directive for each MP leaked.

Only by an endless use of their own laws against themselves will they learn why the Fundamental rights are there. They'll learn what privacy is and why it is essential.

How about we start by stopping the DVLA data jizzing?

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Paris Hilton

you can see it from space

I made a map with the daily telegraph information which tells us a bit more than our 'representatives' here - http://www.shouldyourmpgo.com ... it disturbs me...

Paris, cos she could disturb me anytime.

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IT Angle

Must get some MP's on my books!

At lest it was done properly this time as in you can't load it up in a PDF editor and remove the blobs, I just amused how much MP's are being ripped off - domain names £100 + a year? support for a single PC £100 per month? patch cable £25?

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Boffin

They should have used...

... white blobs and saved a fortune in printer ink!

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Anonymous Coward

Mostly harmless.

to be fair, when you look closely probably 95% of the claims are both harmless and justified. Travel, photocopying, office expenses, publicity material - all fair enough.

Problem is, its the other 5%. For instance how can MPs justify spending £400 a month on food, especially when they have a subsidised restaurant and kitchens in their second home. We're not supposed to pay their family food bills. Why do so many of them redecorate their 2nd homes every year? No normal person does that. Why so many bathrooms, kitchens, gardens etc getting made over?

And the black blobs just make it worse: now I know my MP paid multiple builders and decorators to do work, but I can't tell which house it was in, or why, or even when. So I'm just left /even more/ suspicious.

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Coat

<355 days left to election day.

Know who your MP is.

Do you want their party there again?

If so vote for them.

If not find runner up and vote for them instead.

Mine's the one with "Voting Systems for Dummies" in the pocket

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Burnham's Beds

"What is so special about Andy Burnham’s bed that work in his flat could only be described as "re-building {blob} beds" and "building {long blob} bed"...."

He was probably claiming for a gardener and a landscape artist's efforts to do work on his flower beds. Badly drained rose beds are a cause of much remedial work for gardeners and the creation of a proper alpine flower bed takes a great deal of skill and effort.

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Anonymous Coward

Well, Well, Well

From THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY ((C)1911 Released April 15 1993) [devils]:

HYPOCRITE, n. One who, professing virtues that he does not respect secures the advantage of seeming to be what he despises.

Centralised databases, ID cards, surveillance all based on us trusting them.

We do have something to fear - them; the government is riddled with corruption, if they are going to do this, what else are they capable of? Every element of government and the system it has produced is tainted now.

Banning smoking, someone got some back hander cash out of that.

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Stop

Not very transparent is it!!

So much for Mr. Brown and his claims of a more transparent gov, but then again did anyone in reality expect anything else from these bunch of leeches. Up the revolution!

I was watching some daytime shite on the TV the other day when someone came up with what I thought was rather a good idea, someone should organise a mass walk out, down tools sort of peaceful protest where everyone or as many as possible people in the country take to the streets to show these useless twats what we think of the complete utter fuckup they have made of the country. Also to show our contempt at the greedy criminal behaviour of the MP’s that we elected to represent us.

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how is the county personally identifiable information?

I can see censoring the street name, house number, and post code.

But how is the county personally identifiable information? The county only narrows it down to hundreds of thousands of people.

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Burnham's Beds

Could be orchid beds too.

Or ostrich beds.

Or beds of nails, for use by visiting journalists.

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I might be wrong but....

Isn't this so called private data on purchases done with public money? You know from hard working tax payers (btw which i don't include mps as there tax exempt)?

So what right to privacy do they have when they used public money?

If the purchases where private shouldn't they have used o i don't know THERE OWN PRIVATE MONEY?

They sign an oath that the expenses they charge are to do with there parliamentary duties and only there parliament duties, rules or no rules if they charged private stuff they should get done for purjory firstly then fraud next.

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Go

OK - one of my fav topics

1 - MPs are not gods, not even demi-gods and are humanly fallible as we all are

2 - I daresay that redacted stuff is a need based on privacy, data protection, ...

So what's the deal?

3 - once concept of accountability is accepted and manifested it seems trivially easy for organisations supplying services to MPs to design invoices and bills so that stuff can easily be redacted (what do others do regarding accountability eg: USA?)

4 - it is time to move on from the pain & shame into constructive doable stuff

5 - the Telegraph, the source(s) should be officially recognised by royalty for bringing these matters into public domain

6 - swindlers are swindlers but if those swindlers are civil servants, elected members, local authorities or any of the many arms of government then different interpretations of law seem to exist: One law for all!

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Stop

Don't be fooled

The problem is the majority of MPs are slimeballs who refused to vote for independently recommended pay rises dishonestly portraying themselves as selfless but did give themselves a very generous 'expenses' scheme which they milked to the hilt and beyond in some cases.

Publishing and clamping down on expenses leaves you with the same dishonest slimeballs with less money in their pockets. The problem is the dishonest slimeballs. The expenses are a symptom. How typical of FuLab to try to solve a problem by attacking symptoms, their cure for the common cold would be making snot illegal.

So don't be fooled. The publishing and regulation of MP expenses is no reason to have faith in them or our mess of a political system.

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More *Burnham's Beds*

"What is so special about Andy Burnham’s bed that work in his flat could only be described as "re-building {blob} beds" and "building {long blob} bed"...."

I suspect it was some bored out of its mind black blob applying drone amusing itself by thinking up ways to create innuendo possible sentences, and create a little mischief by insinuating something that probably isn't there. It likely is flower beds being referred to but, snigger, snigger...fill in the blanks yourself...

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Re: They should have used...

... white blobs and saved a fortune in printer ink!

I'm sure the original Tim Brown will be along soon to point out that most people will be reading about politicians shit-on-line so the documents provided are extremely low carbon footprint.

Plus the Telegraph, I'll assume they have like what I told you they would [like as if we did not know], have published the information without the black stuff.

Works for my Bum.

There you go then.

Planet saved.

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Paris Hilton

Something bothering me.....

I'm more than a bit concerned that the parliamentary authorities might have used HP ink. In which case there's another few million gone from the parliamentary budget.

Paris because she looks as though she could do with more exposure.

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Silver badge

I don't get it.

I got my O levels & A levels in the mid-late '70s, and attended Kings College in London for the first year (or so) of my University career. I have many friends all over the UK, and a few ex-pats are neighbors here in Sonoma.

Not one Brit has EVER told me they were happy with the UK's government. Not one. Ever.

Likewise, most of my British friends are proud that they don't bother voting ...

What the hell is that all about?

The feudal system is GONE, you fuckwits! The Queen & Royal Family is a figurehead that has no bearing on government. On the other hand, YOU DO! ... Get up off your arses & fucking vote, each and every time, until you get it right. It's the only way.

On the other hand, you can enjoy your current situation. No skin off my teeth.

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Boffin

Why can't I get away with it?

We all know we elect the government we deserve, and that if voting could change the system it would be illegal, but I vote because I then have the right to moan, not like all you non-voters out there.

I feel it should be easy: at my work I claim for expenses, justifying and coding every single line and supplying receipts as backup. I may not claim £250 each month in undetailed 'petty cash' (not that 250 nicker is 'petty' in my life) and when I was unemployed and allowed to claim mortgage interest I had to follow all sorts of security rules.

As I go back to watching those benefit-fraud TV ads telling me that They Will Catch Me, I will think longingly of the coming by-elections and general ones that will have a new piece included in all the wannabe spam-post: how good they had been/would be with their expenses!

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@jake - fuckwits?

Our voting system gives us the choice of throwing the vote away on a party which has no chance of being elected or in some cases choosing between two packs of wankers.

Hardly surprising many see no point in voting. Personally I have written "none of these wankers" across the X boxes. I think all voting forms should have a "none of the above" option so we can show we are not apathetic without appearing to show approval of the system or the politicians on offer.

We need a proportional representation voting system but politicians being selfish twats only show interest in proportional representation when they do not or are unlikely to have a majority and so have no power to introduce one.

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Anonymous Coward

Hmmm, now consider this...

1 - Royalty has not gone nor has its influence. Example: deny a civil servant expected knighthood and see the commotion? Nor are acts of parliament legal or enforceable without royal approval.

Example: The House of Lords exists and one is raised (lowered?) to the Lords by royal instruct. Each act of parliament needs approval by the Lords and royalty.

Example: Were the UK a limited company then royalty is the major shareholder and has to authorise formal actions decreed by parliament. Were royalty to withhold approval then acts of parliament would not be enforceable. Same for the Lords.

The Commons is merely a usurper that has to pull the strings of the Lords and Royalty in order to do its business. Basically royalty has been placed into an iron mask like prison kept in place by the Commons (or major shareholder in plc has no voting rights on the Board of Directors and must do the bidding of its 'loyal' servants).

2 - MPs do not own the country nor parliamentary processes but do have strong influence. The public and individuals also have influence but in the main much reduced.

3 - the redacted fiasco is proof positive of a culture lacking accountability. If you perceive it for MPs it is likely to permeate to non-MPs working at parliament. Equally, why does it take a financial fiasco, action of individuals and The Telegraph to bring these things into public domain?

It has, I am sure, been going on for centuries.

Interim conclusion:

We in the UK get what we deserve

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eLD

@jake

That doesn't work so well when they're all as bad as each other. Its not as if its just 1 party. Sadly anyone who wants to become a politician is clearly unsuitable.

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Anonymous Coward

Hashing?

Surely it wouldn't be beyond the technological limits of the civil service to hash any sensitive information so that claims can be tied to addresses without revealing the location of the house in question?

Actually what am I saying.... of course that's asking far too much!

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Mr Blobby goes to Parliament

Chortle!

He finds:

Mr Greedy and Ms Nasty.

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Anonymous Coward

EDM

To the people who have commented on the price of ink. These documents were very unlikely to be redacted with a pen. They would be redacted using an electronic document management system.

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You have nothing to fear.

I have said it before, and I'll say it again: No laws should be passed in which the lawmakers can exempt themselves. And preferably, said Law should not be enacted until the Lawmakers have had to suffer it first for at least 6-12 months.

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Unhappy

Entrenched self-importance and corruption

The problem is that corrupt practices can, if perpetuated for a long period without challenge, become seen as normal behaviour and not corrupt at all. That is the problem of profesional groups that obtain great amounts of power and which largely regulate themselves: look (or think carefully) about aspects of the medical professions for other examples of this!

The constant over-use of the adjective "honourable" to refer to each other is amusingly ironic for the miscreants of this lot of MPs, and its over-use seems to be a desparate attempt to make it difficult for people to root out the wrong-doers amongst themselves, as well as being a blackly humorous example of the practice of giving something a desired label often and loudly enough, whereupon the label becomes a reality.

Groupthink writ large is at work here within the bosy of MPs and the Houses of Parliament. A good starting solution is total and open public scrutiny: if an MP doesn't want that, then he or she is clearly unsuitable for the position, and voters should ideally vote accordingly (so selection committees should ideally take note.)

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RE: @jake - fuckwits?

>think all voting forms should have a "none of the above" option so we can show

Ah, that's where the Monster Raving Looney Party went wrong, they should have called themselves the "None of the Others Party".

Proportional representation doesn't work for a number of reasons. You don't get any form of local representation as the proportional number of seats allocated go to the "elders" of the party who no doubt all went to school together. The parties with the least number of seats wield a disproportionate amount of power. In return for their support in helping one of the major parties they will get reciprocal support for their way out policies.

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Anonymous Coward

@Jonathan McColl

Your "you only have a right to moan if you vote" argument is a ridiculous position to take. I'll ignore the obvious point that there is no "right to moan" to be granted or withheld anyway and I'll put aside the nit-picking (e.g. can you only moan if you back the winning candidate - seems as valid a position as yours).

The basic reason that I feel I have a right to moan, even though I did not vote, is because I am paying their salaries!

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Happy

Bring back the Tories

They got thrown out because there were large numbers who were exposed (sorry about the pun) as sexual deviants .

The memories will have faded by now , and the Tories will seem like saints compared with Labour, who seem to have the majority of financial deviants .

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With government, this kind of abuse...

is almost unbeatable. The reason I say that is that they have people in their employ who can spend their whole working lives doing nothing but covering up this ridiculous thievery.

Interesting article, my bet is it's the same here in Canada.

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Stop

They work for us and they have proved they can't self manage...

...so now its time they were forced to work for us.

The publishing and regulation of MP expenses is nothing more than a PR smoke screen to imply they are improving but they keep proving they are not improving. So much hidden data is proof they don't want to be accountable. Another example is the new RBS boss pay deal today for £9.6m with our money. Its yet more proof time and time again they keep helping themselves to take our money to help themselves and their rich friends.

Its going to take totally independent monitoring of their expenses in an incorruptible way. I want uncensored details to be released in a machine readable format in a stream so we can data mine them as they use our money. They work for us with our money, if they don't like it thats tough as its our money. They take the job on the basis we can independently monitor where our money is going. They can release a lot more data than they have currently. For example, after they have traveled, its safe to tell us as they are not there anymore. Anything else is them hiding their true motives of going to meet people they don't want us to know they are meeting. Enough with their lies and secrecy as they play their power games.

Also their home addresses are not secure as I'm sure anyone determined can find that data but even then, they can still hide addresses by simply assigning a number to each address, so our money going into each new house they have can be caught even without us needing to know its address. Any new houses just add another number and never reuse numbers, so its a unique ID per house, so we know where our money is going.

Anyway the details can be worked around. The core point is they work for us. We need to automate data mining them. Humans need to be out of the loop, so no chance to corrupt them to stop them monitoring MPs and its one law for all MPs. They have declared open season on data mining us using our money to monitor us! ... So now its time to data mine them. I'm sure many programmers would be only to happy to spend time developing ever more complex ways to data mine MPs to keep an automated watch on how they work for us with our money. We can then highlight anything not fitting usual patterns of behavior and bring that to our attention.

I also want this applied to all money used in the past at least 30 years as 4 years isn't enough. Considering the amount of money stolen by them in just the past 4 years, then how much more money have they stolen over the past few decades. We need to know so criminal charges can be brought against them. They have all proven they cannot self manage. So now if they still want the job of representing us, its time we directly monitor our parliamentary representatives and what they do with our money. They work for us.

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Pirate

Follow the money.....

I'm sure that any honest MPs pointed out at length that going over the claims and invoiced with black marker pen would not help anyone honest maintain their good name. Follow the money, who benefits ? Oh errrrrr...... The dishonest MPs and I'm sure, the political parties are likely hoping to avoid yet further embarrassment.

Two things spring to mind - Our MPs have fallen victim to the same self serving "entitlement culture" that overtook our bank execs, and that our "beloved" leaders honestly believe that we work for them.

Newsflash - In the unlikely event any MPs are reading this, good guys excepted, 'cos you'll already understand this wee detail - You work for us you self serving, porcine, troughing, bastards. Oh and get this - in order to get rid of the f*ckers, we have ot pay them.......

Not directly pirate related, but they should either walk the plank or get keelhauled.

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Gold badge

Unbelievable!

The lads at the Torygraph must be laughing their bloody socks off over this one.

I find it astonishingly difficult to believe that there wasn't anyone involved in the release of this information who didn't make the obvious deduction. I.e. that with it all in the public domain anyway, the only thing that was guaranteed to bring the whole sorry affair back into front-page news was an attempt to censor it.

All they've done here is give the Toadygraph an excuse to trot out all the same details again, stating in each case (with undisguised glee at the whole "two for the price of one" thing) where they wouldn't have been able to point the finger if they'd only had access to the "official" version. Much as I enjoy seeing MPs nailed to the cross, I think that it's in the interests of good journalism if the hacks at least have to supply their own nails and wood rather than having the government send it over gift-wrapped.

Conclusion: The government really are a bunch of cast-iron, grade "A", dyed-in-the-wool fuckwits and I'm not sure anyone would notice if we replaced them with a bag of hammers.

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@ teecee bag of hammers.....

Yes we would notice if MPs were replaced, the bag of hammers would be taking fewer dodgy decisions, be less self serving, claim no expenses, and be potentially useful for say - driving nails or holding down a stack of paper, with the fringe benefit of making people less likely to vomit if they are seen on tv.

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Go

@Burnham's Beds

Duck beds!

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@TeeCee - bag of hammers

I would vote for a closet of brooms, just the handles would do. Inanimate objects would have done less damage to country and society than FuLab have in the last decade.

This http://tinyurl.com/lw6w3s is an example of what FuLab have done. Read the related article linked at the bottom too.

@jake - proportional representation - people don't vote for local representation, like most people I can't even name my local MP. Arguments about disproportionate power to minorities are bollocks, politicians are twats who want large majorities so they can ignore the opposition and those who voted for them. Requiring them to have support from at least a part of the opposition is a step in the right direction.

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Flame

@elderlybloke

The Tories were kicked out because someone with a warm and "sincere" smile complained about the amount of sleaze in the Tory Party. Mr Bliar conveniently seemed not to notice when a substantial number of his colleagues were caught doing the same - if not worse - within a few months of his taking power.

Or did I imagine David Blunkett, Robin Cook and the others getting caught with, if you will excuse the expression, their pants down in someone else's house.

And don't get me started on the way that the two-faced lying rat-bastards then started to bring in loads of legislation that the Tories had come up with, but 'old' Labour was able to block because they effectively had a majority in Parliament. Things like increasing the time suspects could be held without trial, economic measures, changes in education etc.

And now the Tories say they would do away with SATs, notice how some Labour tw@ who has NOTHING TO DO WITH EDUCATION turns round and says the Tories don't have a clue? Sorry, who has just spent the last eleven years completely screwing the education system into the ground? Which Party suppposedly listen to their members - including the teachers who said *they* wanted rid of the SATs?

Flames of hell, because that is where ZaNu Labour is sending us at a great rate of knots.

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Happy

<353 Days to go.

It's your vote.

Make it count.

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