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UK Taxpayers To 'Google Tax Pounds' Under Tory Plan

by Robert Lee,, London

15 November 2006

The UK Conservative Party is drafting new legislation that would allow taxpayers to see how their taxes are being spent by government, replicating an idea recently put into effect by the United States government.

Unveiling the "Google your tax pounds" proposal, Shadow Chancellor George Osborne explained that the law would result in every single item of expenditure above GBP25,000 (US$47,000) - except when related to national security or personal privacy - being published on a publicly-accessible website.

The Tories hope that the Government Spending Transparency Bill will be introduced in the House of Lords by Christmas, and become law by the following Easter.

"For too long, government spending has been shrouded in Whitehall secrecy," declared Mr Osborne, who announced the plans yesterday.

"It's been difficult for the public to find out exactly where their tax money is being spent. That's why we are introducing new legislation that will throw open the government's books and enable everyone to find out how their tax money is being spent," he added.

The government has been frequently criticised for failing to publish details of spending projects, such as the costly National Health Service computer system.

The Tories claim that the project will not itself cost the government anything, as it will be managed within the existing Treasury budget.

The initiative largely replicates a bill signed into law by President George W. Bush in September known as the Federal Funding Accountability Act and Transparency Act.

Noting that the bill received bipartisan support in the US Congress, Osbourne challenged the Treasury to support a measure which calls for more transparent government.

"I urge (Chancellor of the Exchequer) Gordon Brown to support our legislation in a similar spirit," he stated.

"This proposal will alter the relationship between the public and the government. It will make it easier for people to hold the government to account for its spending at the click of a button, and help to encourage better value for money from public spending," he concluded.

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