Do you know what an MP does? How much does he/she contribute to parliament? Is there some way of measuring what the person you voted for is actually doing?
These are basic questions that the average citizen should ask.
Manthri.lk, a website that was launched today, takes a small step towards attempting to analyse the contribution of MP's in their legislative function. It takes data from the official parliamentary record (the Hansard) and analyses it to see how often MP's have contributed to debates.
This is only a small step towards holding MP's to account but it is one in the right direction and which could be extended to include other information.
The organisation will be happy to publish the Asset Declarations of any MP who cares to submit it to them. (These may be obtained by members of the public on the payment of a fee of Rs.500/-. Citizens are encouraged to use this facility and forward the declarations to Manthri.lk who will publish any that it obtains).
One member of the audience suggested that attendance at Parliamentary sittings be also published as there are widespread allegations that MP's only turn up in Parliament when they have nothing else to do. Parliament is sometimes adjourned for lack of a quorum.
Another audience suggestion that the cost of maintaining an MP - his salary, the costs of his staff, office, vehicles, security etc be also published. This would be extremely useful in deciding on the cost-effectiveness of MP's but the organisers said that this information was impossible to obtain.
Is this not a valid question for a member to ask? If British taxpayers know what it costs to maintain the Queen, should we not have the right to know how much our MP's cost? Why has no one asked this question? Is it that even the opposition MP's are quite happy to enjoy the luxuries that come with the job, luxuries that they would be rather uncomfortable disclosing to their constituents?
Will one bold MP dare ask this question? Or care to give an estimated figure for his own costs?
Perhaps we need legilation like the New Zealand Civil List Act which compels that this information be made public?
There was a suggestion that a blog linked to this website be started, allowing members of the public to post questions and opinions on relevant matters.
All in all a very interesting idea and one that is worth trying to develop.