Saturday, May 23, 2009

Of teeth and truth

The Fundy Post, as you know, likes to celebrate New Zealanders who punch above their weight on a global stage. So it gives me great pleasure to inform you, gentle reader, that a Levin man is the 34th "most influential" dentist in Britain. And his practice, or practices, have caught him in the Westminster expenses scandal. Sir Paul Beresford, dentist of Putney and MP for the Mole Valley, had a complicated life, juggling his commitments at his chair with those of his seat, while charging questionable expenses to Parliament. The full story can be found on ("staying connected to the dental profession") which reports that "the patient waiting room doubled as his private lounge in the evenings;" one can only assume that Sir Paul spent his free time reading old copies of The Readers Digest and Country Life. Sir Paul also complains "that he had suffered financially as a result of cutting back his surgery hours."

Now, I know this is a matter for the British, but the same question applies to our own representatives: when you elect someone to Parliament, should you not expect that someone to make a full-time job of it? Running a dental practice, or a "consultancy," or holding company directorships seems like moonlighting. Just as bad is holding a seat in Parliament and one on a local authority, as the example of Sam Lotu-liga shows.

Not that I am suggesting Mr Lotu-liga is fiddling his expenses. Not that I could make any such suggestion against any MP. You see, the Speaker won't let us know about our MPs' expenses, because such knowledge would "infringe on their private lives." Yes, I know, that should be "impinge," not "infringe," but that is not the point. The point is that we have the right to impinge upon the private lives of our elected representatives when they are spending public money. But no: an Official Information Act which allows us to see the Police reports on Tony Veitch does not allow us to see what our MPs are spending on themselves; instead we have to rely on the Whips to keep them in line.

It's enough to make you spit pink liquid into a bowl.By the way, the full list of the most influential dentists in Britain can be found here. Well done, Eddie Crouch.


Richard T said...

With the political views of the dentist in question, many of us Brits are quite happy for him to be engaged in making money as a dentist instead of sitting in Parliament. In fact, I would be perfectly happy if he stopped being so unselfish and went back to his trade full time. He'd only be surrendering £64,000+ a year and tax free expenses so you can really appreciate the nature of his self sacrifice.

Philip said...

If only more dentists went into politics, we might have a few more toothless watchdogs. Oh.

Word Verification: inentolu, a lavatory for palatally-challenged Nintendo addicts.

porc-├ępic said...

Hey, spooky! Bernard Freyberg, 1st Baron Freyberg, once practised as a dentist in Levin.

Eric Olthwaite said...

It's a man's life in the British Dental Association.