It’s time to change the rules on MPs’ expenses

Another day and yet another scandal over an MPs’ expenses. A setup where a senior member of the Government lodges with their sister, or has their parents living in their constituency house, is clearly unacceptable. There is something wrong with the rules if such payments are in order.

Public anger is currently concentrated on the allowance MPs have for a home in their constituency or, if that is where their main home is, a home in London. But only a few months ago it was employing members of an MPs family who were not all good examples of the Protestant work-ethic.

Most voters accept that MPs need to run an office so they can do their job properly. I have argued since I first came here that MPs should be able to choose their staff but the staff should be on the House of Commons establishment. This would mean that outside advisors would judge that the successful candidate for a post has the skills to carry that out properly. Such a reform would also guarantee that MPs did not direct any of the money themselves.

I cannot now see any alternative other than for the House of Commons to own these second homes and to service them. I know where the next media attack will be, on the bureaucracy in the House of Commons needing to run such a system. But I do believe that the current system is so damaging to the political process that the most drastic reform is now necessary.

In this way, MPs would not be open to big capital gains or losses on their second homes. The cost of running a second home would be met directly from the House of Commons not by the MPs claiming back expenses.

We have had long enough trying to put our own house in order and we have failed. We are now into a period when taxes will need to go up and public expenditure cut. There is no way that our allowance system can survive the new politics that are being ushered in by the current mega financial and economic crisis.


One Response to “It’s time to change the rules on MPs’ expenses”

  1. Jon Pols Says:

    I’m not sure that there is anything wrong with the current system at all; the problem lies with those many MPs abusing the system.

    I read today that Geoff Hoon lived in a “grace-and-favour” and rented out his (supposed) main home whilst claiming a second home allowance. This maybe within the rules (hard not to be given you could drive a truck through them) but it is not moral behaviour. As far as I’m concerned it’s definitely breaching the spirit of the rules and only a small sin away from actual corruption.

    We place a great deal of trust in our elected representatives, yet it seems that many MPs cannot even be trusted to avoid abusing their own expense accounts. A sordid business. I believe that politics used to be a branch of ethics, no more it seems. It seems it’s “every man or woman for themselves” amongst our leaders just as much as the general public. What hope is there?

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