Friday, 8 May 2009

MPs caught with their snouts in the trough...again!

Practically every one of the UK broadsheet newspapers today is running a story relating to MPs expenses. This follows on from a full expose on the issue by The Telegraph. I have also covered this issue myself in an earlier blog.

While the Telegraph expose primarily centres its focus on the Labour Party (which is to be expected from a right of centre newspaper), no single party is blameless. This is an issue which more than most, cuts across all party boundaries.

The expenses system is supposed to compensate MPs for out of pocket expenses, which I am sure most people would see as quite reasonable. What it is actually used for is something quite different. MPs view the expenses system as a lifestyle, rather than a privilege of the job. What is coming to light is MPs claim for many items which the majority of people would view as inappropriate. When each new revelation comes to light, we hear the usual bleating of 'I was acting in complete accordance with the rules', as if that makes any difference. If the rules state you can claim for a second home when you live less than ten miles from Parliament, then the rules are clearly wrong.

MPs do not use the expenses system to remunerate themselves for just their subsistence expenses, but to subsidise their lifestyles. They claim for their TVs and other electric appliances, fitted bathrooms and kitchens, new carpets and furniture and even their food.

The entire expenses system needs a complete overhaul. As I have said previously, I would remove the claim for MPs second homes. Instead, I would let them claim for travel expenses and overnight accommodation in Travel Lodge style hotel.

The argument for increasing their salaries is a spurious one. They are already well rewarded in their roles as MPs. No further increase in basic salary is necessary. I would remove the ability for MPs to vote on their own pay awards too. In no other role can you vote for your own pay increase, and I would not make MPs any exception to this.

We are in the middle of a recession, but you'd never know this from looking at the items our MPs are claiming for.

They have completely forgotten that their purpose is to serve their constituents and country, not to serve themselves.

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