Censored MPs' expenses published online

The details and receipts on MPs' expenses have been published online about a month after they started being revealed in the Daily Telegraph.

The details and receipts on MPs' expenses have been published online about a month after they started being revealed in the Daily Telegraph.

Both prime minister Gordon Brown and Conservative leader David Cameron have said publishing expenses online will improve transparency and help to improve public trust in government.

But many of the most important details have been blacked out. In particular it is not possible to see MPs' addresses, which would show constituents if their MP had engaged in the "flipping" practice - changing which home they designate as their second home to avoid paying capital gains tax.

MPs say it might compromise their safety to have addresses published on the internet, but critics point to councillors in local government, who nearly always publish their addresses to illustrate that they live locally and are involved in the community.

Many of the most shocking revelations that the Telegraph published are not revealed by the online documents, such as Douglas Hogg's claim for the cost of cleaning his moat.

The publication of expenses online is the first of many possible steps that the government will take in improving the public's access to government data on the internet. Gordon Brown recently announced that web inventor Tim Berners-Lee will advise government on how to improve the use of digital tools, and the Cabinet Office has blogged on plans to upload reams of data for public use after the US government launched data.gov.

The expenses are available on the Parliament website.

Picture from Rex Features.

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