Friday, 14 March 2008

National Audit Office Condemns Speaker Expenses

The NAO has completed an investigation into speaker-related costs and expenses in the House of Commons. The Value for Money audit severely criticises the current system as not fit for purpose. An independent double-blind test has shown that the current speaker is of poor quality and the sounds emanating from it are often cacophonic or inaudible.

The report suggests that Parliament’s decision to spend £72,862 in 2005 for a second-hand speaker that had already been in use for four years was financially irresponsible. It also indicates that a review of maintenance costs had highlighted excessive and unaccountable expenses.

A number of MPs have sought to defend the current system, pointing out that the speaker was chosen by the whole House of Commons from a shortlist of 12 potential candidates.

However, the audit notes that MPs were perhaps more influenced by the name of the speaker and may have made their selection based on seeing it prominently displayed in the most popular party.

In its cost-benefit analysis, the NAO concludes that the high-maintenance Martin speaker is poor value for money when compared to the popular and euphonic Boothroyd or even the venerable but reliable Weatherill.

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