THERE really isn’t a decent excuse not to support Eric Pickles’ initiative in publishing details of his own department’s spending on every item worth £500 or more.
The opportunity it gives the media to run sensationalist stories about massages and trips to Blackpool Pleasure Beach on the public purse is less important than the far more positive consequence: it will make everyone in the public sector think twice before authorising spending.
So my friend and colleague, Tom Watson, is right to call on all parties to applaud Eric’s judgment on this one.
I would go further, however.
Presumably, in time, every department – not just Eric’s – will adopt this policy. At least, I hope so. But what about local authorities? What about hospital trusts and quangos? It’s unlikely that they will voluntarily open their books to public inspection. But if they were forced to, then every local government officer in the land would know that they would have to justify buying any item or service to the public and the to media – as well as to their bosses.
Now, come on! Anyone out there think that’s a bad idea?
I reckon this would be a fucking brilliant idea. Every bit of taxpayer-funded expenditure should be put up on the web for anyone to look at. Including salaries. And attached to it, should be the name, email address and phone number of the person who signed it off.
I can promise you that money would be spent much more wisely in a very fucking short order.