Tele Column – 27th May 2016

People pay tax and governments spend it. That part is straight forward. Paying tax becomes contentious when the people paying the tax don’t like the way the government spends it. Ultimately the decision is taken by cabinet members but they have a range of experts that can be called upon to give their advice. So it was interesting to hear the views from members of the cabinet office and the National Audit Office at my select committee this week. The outcome of a three and a half or evidence session boiled down to “It is not our fault if they don’t listen” High Speed 1, High Speed 2 and Kids Company being three examples and “it is not our fault if the financial reporting system is too complicated for anyone other than accountants to understand”. The former is true the latter is not. I suggested a dummies guide for MPs and for some reason they thought I was joking, I wasn’t. Greater government transparency is required and where better to start with than where our money is spent.

The EU referendum campaign bumps along and both camps down south are trying to outdo each other with negativity. Although I support the campaign to remain in the EU I was hoping that the campaign that is being put to the electorate would have been an upbeat one that highlighted the good reasons to remain not the usual fear tactics that were deployed at the Scottish referendum. But they seem to have adopted the attitude that it worked last time so let’s use it again.