10 May 2009

MPs' expenses: there is much murkier gravy to come

To hear Harriet Harman (leader of the House of Commons) on Friday night, MPs think they have now put their House in order.

But surely “redacted” information about how they dispose of taxpayers’ cash into their expenses claims has to be transparent?

In America congressmen and senators are forced to disclose all receipts, and freedom of information laws ensure that anyone can peer into the vast repositories of such documentation to see how the cash has been spent.

Make no mistake, British politics are amongst the least corrupt in the world. The sort of sums that MPs have accrued thanks to the expenses “system” are relatively small compared with the bungs and back-pocketry that permeate politics in some countries.

However, there are those who argue that our politics are also amongst the most opaque and, in places, undemocratic.

Westminster’s problem is that despite the advent of “Blair’s babes”, it remains an old boys’ club in which rules are set, and scrutiny arranged, by the very people who have to be ruled and scrutinised – MPs themselves. It has resulted in an accident that has waited three decades to happen.

But there may be much worse in the woodwork. Once in the upper chamber, where many MPs eventually end up, Lords can pick up an overnight attendance allowance of £150 or so, together with a whole new raft of expenses, second homes allowances and the rest.

What transparency is there in any case for the process of entry into the Lords in the first place? And where else is the legislature saddled with people no-one ever elected, for a term that lasts until they die?

The expenses scandal tells us that root and branch reform is needed now: a huge reduction in the number of MPs, to around 400 at most, and a vast reduction in the Lords to the kind of 100 figure found in the United States Senate.

The total currently spent on more than 650 MPs and 800 peers should remain the same and should be redistributed through these smaller Houses of Parliament in a way that pays politicians properly (no second jobs should be allowed) and enables them to staff their offices with teams that can properly hold the executive to account.

I am not holding my breath. But without change the turnout at the next election could be still lower and the alienation from Westminster still deeper.

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170 reader comments

  1. William Dowell says:

    Quite why anybody would want Harriet Harman as head of their party after this, I do not know.

    1. jimmy tasker says:

      Has any1 checked ebay to see if the mp’s seeling the tv’s an other items they bought with our money an why dont they just take the items with them when they change homes, i know why they sell them an just buy more at our expence.

    2. David says:

      You wouldn’t have any of them around for tea would you? And if you did, you’d be checking their pockets as they left!!

    3. Steve Saint says:

      Why would anybody seeing the state of the political landscape vote for any party?

      Why do we have parties when they are anti-democratic/authoritarian in nature.

      Why don’t we insist the current parliamentary structure is abolished?

      Why donlt we insist on candiates who have no party affiliation (with an added life disbarment of the entire batch of MP from ever sitting again) and if we need experts to help run the country have the new council of MP’s hire them?

      No funding of political expenses except by the nation with the provision that no increases in the allowance permitted unless given consent by referendum by the employer US the electorate.

      Same goes for pay. If MP’s don;t like it. Well tough they do a lousy job anyway and won;t be missed.

      We might get people with probity and a sense of national service the current mealy mouth bunch go on about so much.

    4. Graeme says:

      I am unable to understand this defence that the expenses claims made by MPs were “within the rules”. The rules require the expenses claimed to be necessary for carrying out MPs duties. It is difficult to see how much if any of the expenses disclosed in the press in the last few days meets this requirement.

      In addition, I find it hard to believe that Ms Hazel Blears has not broken the Ministerial Code of Conduct. If press reports are correct it appears that she has changed her main residence to obtain expenses under the MPs 2nd home scheme, whilst electing for capital gains tax purposes a different property as her main residence. This cannot be compatible with holding an office of state in the UK.

  2. Jon Townsend says:

    Of course it’s turning people off – I’m so disillusioned that I’m giving up my party membership of over 11 years to support a minority party fielding independents. I think that the only way this country can move forward from this is with a complete shake up of the system. I’d urge people to find a new way forward. Jury Team have my vote.

  3. Mike gibson says:

    I have voted in every election since the age of 18. I was taught that you cannot critise a government if you don’t vote. Over the last couple of years I have become so disillusioned with politics in this country that I will not be wasting my time voting in the forth coming local elections and the general election, whenever that is. I also feel the vast majority of the electorate will do the same.

    1. acko says:

      Forgive me if im wrong but i think if you dont vote then your vote automatically goes to the party already in power. vote liberal

    2. Jeffrey Lam says:

      Or vote for any minority party, though I personally might favour liberal or maybe green

  4. Ray Turner says:

    It’s not just MPs expenses. The whole business of Parliament is rotten.

    Witness how laws are bullied through Parliament by the whips, without MP’s really being allowed to represent the views of the people they supposedly represent. They’re not even allowed to vote according to their consciences. They’re expected to vote as they’re told by the Whips if they want to hang on to their constituencies and have a career in politics…..

    The party machines need to be taken out of politics. 650 independent MPs returned via the Jury Team system would be a very interesting development !

    Finally. I think the turnout could be much greater at the enxt election. The whole country has had enough and I sense it wants something better, just as we saw with Obama last year in the USA…

  5. JULIAN BRAY says:

    I am not holding my breath. But without change the turnout at the next election could be still lower and the alienation from Westminster still deeper.

    That is the most chilling point in the whole of your blog and one I hadn’t thought of

  6. Justin says:

    It’s time for a mass protest and a mass clearout. The masses need to get active and put people in power who truly represent them. People who believe in PUBLIC SERVICE not private enrichment. Abstaining from voting just keeps the rotten apples in power. Look for alternatives, they are there, and if not start a grass roots movement yourself!

    1. Palchaz says:

      I cannot see the difference between someone who is taken to court for misappropriation of benefits and MPs who have avoided tax and abusued expenses. Those who have abused the system should be made to pay the money back and taken to court for avoiding tax and any other scam they have been up to. Those who write the law should abide by the law. At the next general election those MP’s who have abused the system should be either banned from re-election or voters should avoid them like the plague. These people should all be punished to prevent repitition of such abuse. When the country is in a mess due to political failure, with the average family suffering and many losing their homes, we have to suffer the likes of Fred the Shred and his excessive pension and MP’s buying porn, dog food and nappies at our expense. I want to see them all in court and punished.

  7. acko says:

    seen this the other night, jon you killed her within 2 minutes, i just cant take their bull****, i havent trusted politicians since the mid 80s, then in late 90s it took society 18 years to finally see through tory fascism and they voted labour into power which was a new type of labour which was a clever blag then 12 years later i cant see how they have ever done anything for the lower classes, they think and act like they are above us. they defend theirselves to the hilt when they are plain guilty. they are the enemy. jon me and you should start up a new party, called the realist party. what do you think .

  8. Richard says:

    As ever, Jon, a cool and thoughtful appraisal.

    My own emotions have gone from disbelief to extreme anger, and from shame at how this must look to those people we lecture so readily about how they should run their country to sadness that this has served to undermine even more the parliamentary process at home.

    I passionately believe in democracy but even I feel sceptical about voting now. To hear people you have respected bleat ‘I didn’t break any rules’ when they have blatantly exploited a system they must have known was far more generous than intended, leaves me speechless.

    The sooner all the expenses are published and in the open the better. Then we need massive reform, possibly along the lines you suggest.

    I think it might also be interesting to see the expenses of the directors of our publicly quoted companies. Given the kind of indulgence Fred Goodwin and his mates were getting away with on salaries and pensions, lord knows what their expenses looked like.

    My one hope from all this is that the general public get so disenchanted that the top few per cent of the population have their snouts in the trough in public and private life, that it brings about and end to the greed is good attitude that pervades so much of our society.

    But maybe that’s just the pipe dream of an old socialist.

    1. BRIAN HULSe OBE says:

      There is no need for a Parliamentary Committee or Commission to sort out the scandal of MPs’ expenses.

      All that is needed is for there to be a reasonable taxable increase to members’ salaries with the amount variable according to the distance each member’s constituency is from Westminster.

      The assessment could be determined by a body independent of Parliament and there would thereafter be no need for the ‘fees office’ and its attendant expense.

  9. Derek says:

    The poor things work so hard! The usual number of MPs in the chamber during a ‘debate’ is around a dozen. But when the vote is called, hundreds of the buggers appear and vote, not having taken apart in the ‘debate’.
    No doubt they were too busy working on their expense accounts using the time-honoured system of starting at the bottom with the desired target amount and then work upwards, getting more and more creative with the entries.

  10. Britt_W says:

    Your Harriet Harman interview was just brilliant and made my Friday night.

    As for my own views…http://brittwarg.blogspot.com/

    1. Mollie lord says:

      I agree Jon your interview with Harmen on Friday was journalism at it’s best.It is not often that I am lost for words but this expense business is just beyond anything. Where,oh where is integrity,honour.Do they truly beleive that any of us will ever trust them again. Maybe,just maybe,the game is up for democracy.These creatures who make our laws our morally bankrupt…no it cannot get much worse. Thank God we have you …thats all I can say .Cherrio for now.Mollie
      this

  11. Dr david Hill says:

    This detestable and corrupt expenses scandal by our political classes, goes much deeper than is apparent to the British electorate.

    During the biggest housing boom in the UK’s history and thereafter the enormous problems that we all can now see (we shall not get back to the equivalent level of national debt until 2032 according to some eminent economists), many of the ministers and politicians who had the power to stop it were in a position to benefit considerably from that boom and at the taxpayers’ cost.

    As we now know, MPs are able to claim for mortgage interest, plus other expenses for maintaining a second home – an asset which increased vastly in value over the last 10-years. Indeed, in comparison with Germany where prices rose by a mere 4% over that period, Britain’s housing stock increased on average by an incredible 200%.

    So it has to be asked, did our political class indirectly contribute to the harshness of this present recession?

    For MPs were at their very best protected from the negative consequence of the property boom thanks to their parliamentary extra benefits/expenses and where at worst, many MPs appear to have built up a very profitable buy-to-let income on the back of the taxpayer.

    Therefore if MPs were as openly bare to the murky and vulnerable underbelly of the UK’s housing swell, without the comfort of their substantial expenses, would there have been more political vigour to decrease the housing boom by them, for they have been rewarded very handsomely indeed ?

    In this respect far greater than the average British voter could ever imagine in their wildest dreams.

    Dr David Hill
    World Innovation Foundation Charity
    Bern, Switzerland

  12. graham burton says:

    There is an alternative to the other parties to vote for in the european elections that are fielding independant MEP’s like the jury team and people should vote and find the party to vote for as main parties are abusing the system.

    If anyone of us made fraud claims to different benifits claming, we would be under police investgation for theft. So should all MP’s should be facing possible police investgation for fraud for frauding the taxpayer

    I have also written to Mike Clasper CBE Chairman HM Revenue and Customs

    In light of today’s press, does HM Revenue and Customs have any plans to look at MPs expenses? There is obviously some doubt about whether many of the expenses incurred are wholly necessary for the execution of MP’s duties. Additionally, it is not clear whether the expenses allowances granted to MPs was used exclusively for the purposes intended.

    yours (sin)
    Graham Burton
    the jury team principals would not allow this to happen.

  13. graham burton says:

    People should vote this european elections as this would show all main political parties, that the public are not happy with them. So voting in the european elections for other parties that have different princples such as the jury team will show a difference and the jury team are planing on indepedents MP when a general election is called as well.

    Look at the different parties that are standing and the principals bearing in mind that all jury team candidates are independents.

  14. C Harding says:

    I find it so hypocritical that the MPs that have so far been challenged have all said ‘well it’s within the rules, so I’ve done nothing wrong’, when it wasn’t that long ago that those same people dismissed that as an excuse when Fred Goodwin used it. In that case those same MPs were demanding that even though it was ‘in the rules’, it was totally immoral and he should pay some of it back. I doubt they’ve forgotten what they said, I do however believe they think it’s different when applied to themselves. Before I vote in the next election, I will be looking at the expense details of the current incumbant of the job and will take that into account.

    Quite often we see MPs trying to vote themselves exempt from the laws they introduce for the rest of us, and this is just another instance where they’ve been caught out. I have no doubt there are honest MPs out there, but it’s getting easier to find the ones out that aren’t – and that’s what they are really upset about in this instance, that they’ve been caught red-handed before they could cover it up.

  15. acko says:

    murkier gravy to come, thats the truth. wait till this week when it all comes out about what the torys have been spending. things are about to get a whole lot worse for a lot of people because of the recesion and the politicians spend the taxpayers money like it ain’t no thing. society is about to become as poor as we were during the 1940s, the middle class wont be middle class for much longer.

  16. Richard Oppe says:

    The next issue to be researched is whether MPs have paid income tax on their dodgy expenses. I suspect not, but expenses are only exempt from income tax if wholly, necessarily and exclusively incurred as part of employment. Please C4 News don’t let The Daily Telegraph get the whole exclusive story. I very much doubt any MP has paid Income Tax on these expenses and if you or I tried to claim for most of these items we would have had to pay income tax on the benefit in kind. Do your own research but I suspect there is a whole scandal of unpaid Income Tax yet to be uncovered

  17. Mike says:

    I believe that it is very simple to eliminate the abuse of second home allowance for MP’s. There should simply be a Minister’s residence, similar to a hotel, for use of Minister’s when attending to their duties away from their constituencies. For cabinet Minister’s that spend the majority of their time in London it would be more cost effective for the Government to own Apartments / Homes suitable for Cabinet Minister’s and their families.

    1. colin hales says:

      Well said, but to take it a stage further, why do MPs need to be out of their contituency at all? We have the world wide web, with conferencing and web cams, no need to travel at all. If this is too much of a radical change, travel lodge is £40.00 per night and put MPs wages down to a more reasonable £25,000 per year.

    2. Bill Adam says:

      Agreed, an office next to Houses of parliament with attached living accomodation for the MP and occasional guest plus a 1st class return ticket (one a week) to their constituency home. No expenses, no opportunity to cheat, and the ticket value proportional to the cost of travel.

  18. Chris bBrace says:

    If we are to look at people who really have no excuse, shouldn’t we first look at those members who are qualified accountants? They should primarily understand the morals and ethics behind claiming expenses and paying necessary tax on them? why have no professional bodies of Lawyers or accountants come out to strike off their parliamentary members?

  19. Kerrin says:

    The Harman interview was a classic of its kind – on a par with the Israeli. Your questions went entirely unanswered, even though pertinent and correct. Harman is so locked into a politician mindset that she will justify absolutely anything without thought.

    Everywhere I go, everyone I speak to is genuinely angry about this and is being made more so by the lame excuses being trotted out. To make matters worse, the new “measures” are nothing but a means of perpetuating this rotten system.

    They don’t understand and must be told repeatedly. Harman and Brown, as the most closely responsible, have shown nothing but their usual spin and nonsense.

    There seems to me to be no alternative now to having an external agency, independent of government, Parliament and Civil Service, draw up simple rules and administer them openly. The MPs have only themselves to blame.

    It is not hard to set up such a system and could be done in a few weeks, eliminating the problem. Why do they not do that? Ask Harman?

    On one point, I disagree with you, Jon.

    Reducing the number of MPs might have the effect of removing MPs further from the electorate. I don’t believe that more constituents means more contact. If anything, there should be a few more MPs in the commons.

    The Labour party has, under Blair, succeeded in something they have wanted for many decades, namely the detruction of the Lords. It has lost all usefulness and should be reformed into a form of Senate with a few members. Under no circumstances should they be appointed. However, this might be an opportunity to bring expertise in real life into politics to counterbalance the useless career politicians of the Commons. “Lords” candidates should have worked for a minimum of twenty years and be elected for seven year
    fixed terms.

    One last point: it is amazing to hear Harman defend our system as being not quite as corrupt as some! I am sure there are more corrupt systems out there but surely the need is for a system with complete integrity. I have yet to hear an MP mention the need or desire for integrity. I guess that says it all.

  20. Paul Lowe says:

    Dishonorable conduct taking place for nearly 40 years, total amount embezzled out of tax payers contributions, yet, to be established, but, a full report on all misconduct over the past decades would be nice to know, giving us a league table of which party as consistently abused the system to a greater level.

    Within the rules of deceit and for any person referring to themselves as honorable, the meaning and authentic significance of a rule is something anyone capable of distinguishing between right and wrong would know without question, hence, an apology by DC as a counter measure to limit damage to conservative corruption is not satisfactory for people referring to each other as honorable and if there intentions are honorable then the repayment of all corruption throughout the entire period of default to integrity will be reimbursed to the public purse, since, abusing a rule system known to be unethical is not an excuse for theft, since, the honorable decision would have been to question the rule’s integrity to honor correction and not conceal it. The total amount of reclaimed tax’s, should, be enough to build a few schools, hence, it’s in the public interest, those abusing incompetent rules, without rectifying them, should, repay all embezzled public money.

    I think GB made an excellent decision in demanding MP’s confront these issues in the way he did, aware of public scrutiny yet, determined to ensure transparency and transformation of the system was implemented. I felt under the circumstances of everything else he has been dealing with, it showed immense integrity and honor to confront a system of misconduct all parties have concealed and remained indifferent too, with the knowledge the can of worms he opened, whilst detrimental to all mp’s implicated, regardless of party was a necessary move to reform a failed system of accountability, hence, well done Gordon at least someone as a sense of honor in confronting all dishonorable conduct.

    I’m sure if we check the total amount of corruption over a 40 year period, the conservative party would by far be the worst offenders and in addition to this investigation, please identify if any of these people have utilized tax havens during office, since, wasn’t it M Thatcher who mothballed the system for pursuing tax evaders on offshore havens, to remain loyal to those friends she would not turn away from.

    Justice is divine and yet again it’s the labour party spearheading the fight for justice in destroying these corruptive cancer cells on the honorable hopes, dreams and aspirations of common decency.

    As for bent accountants, assisting in the avoidance of tax, a minimum 20 year prison sentence should close the loophole permanently, since, transferring money into investments to avoid paying the required amount of taxation for the rich is a crime, against the public interest, hence, for anyone claiming knowledge of basic mathematics the total amount of earnings is subject to the full amount of taxation before any further manipulation of figures, to avoid taxation is a criminal offence, like it is for everyone else in the middle and lower classes.  I love a good witch hunt and bounty hunters are perhaps are best line of attack on the tax evaders, who, whine and threaten to abandon the country with all their stolen money. The bounty hunters will be teams of mercenaries hired to apprehend all tax evaders with a license to kill in true British style.

    The other matters to be resolved:-

    The unacceptable definition of terms, with regards to the arrangements made on behalf of tax payers (without consultation or consideration) between the governments on behalf of the people and the banks on behalf of the conservative party, putting the burden of debt established by the financial sector on to the tax payers bill’s, when, it’s the taxpayers money that as bailed these people out. Given that people in this industry command five million pound plus yearly salaries, before, bonus, expenses, privileges and defined pensions schemes and the ability to invest and double this money, the burden of repayments should be the there honorable responsibility and not ordinary tax payers penalty for being victims of the misconduct. It’s this industry that generates monopoly money out of the casino system; hence, these people are in a very good position to honor the debt they have incurred.

    Given the media bias towards conservative policies (which are bad news for common people), is the private ownership of news and media content in the public interest, since, stories created to generate profits and spin doctored to incriminate the wrong targets is not in the public interest… especially when the commitment to invest in the people and the jobs to deliver a decisive turnaround, as opposed to a conservative rebound back to the Thatcher period of regressive mistakes, is a Labour commitment to sustainable reinvention of the countries necessary adaptation to put Britain in the driving seat and this should be the focus of all politicians at the moment.

  21. John McPhie says:

    When trust is betrayed it is seldom restored. We are in need of serious political reform…or a revolution!

  22. Emily says:

    I am fed up with the stock response of MP’s from all parties saying that they acted within the rules and then blaming the rules. They may well have acted within the ‘rules’ but they all knew they were taking advantage. Hilary Benn seems to be one of the few who can still hold his head high. I cannot believe what they have claimed for, I will never not use my vote but it becomes increasingly difficult. It would be great to get rid of the whole lot and start again. I like the idea of there being a time limit for a serving MP 5 years tops.

  23. Geoff says:

    Enjoyed the interview. I thought it was outrageous when she claimed that MPs had ‘acted in good faith’. As you pointed out, some did nothing of the sort and claimed up to the maximum possible.

  24. robert a. brown says:

    You seem to have a number of wannabe boring book writers on your blog this time Jon. This business about our politicians is just a reflection of our society as a whole, stones and glass houses come to mind. Taking the world view our lot seem pretty tame.

  25. Richard says:

    Gosh, how exciting it is now that we’ve seen the Tory expenses. I didn’t realise it was impossible to do my job without a perfect garden or tennis court. And how have I managed all these years without someone to change my light bulbs?

  26. Lee says:

    Unfortunately, over the past 30 years, the ethos of materialism and personal gain has rippled through the entire nation in one guise or another and slowly but surely engaged itself in breaking down the social structures, altruistic consciousness and familial cohesion of the British Isles. The “I want it – I’m gonna take it,” attitude of our present day “leaders” is simply a reflection, or product, of a global capitalist political agenda, which aims to put the interests of the wealthy, influential individual before that of the nation, and of society in general. The sick joke is that: the rest of society is also wrapped up in, and have bought into, this illusion as well.

    It doesn’t even make a difference if the governing political party is Labour or Conservative (even Liberal) because as we’ve seen in the newspapers and t.v. news, they’re mostly all on the ‘take’ and are even trying to defend their amoral behaviour with insulting claims that “everything was within the rules,” therefore it was all fair game and by the book. It doesn’t make a difference to the politicians if the majority of people in this country have to struggle to keep afloat (and that’s just with 1 house/abode) to furnish and keep up with the rent or mortgage on. Just so long as them and “their mates” are raking it in at the taxpayer’s expense, that’s all that seems to matter to these people..

    These anti-heroes (anti-role models) will promise anything to get into power, and usually do through the use of semantic subversions and promises of more cash in the “individual’s” pockets in the form of tax cuts. None of them are willing to admit they have acted immorally or in self-interest; none of them will ever admit they are WRONG. One day all this may be a distant uncomfortable fact of history, a noted mistake which helped to shape a truly democratic future, however, I sadly feel, due to human nature, that the situation will never change so long as kudos is measured in terms of wealth and fame over personal integrity and the common good.

  27. Anthony Martin says:

    I think that corporate fat-cats, greedy individuals, corrupt politicians and the rich scum of the UK have done more harm to ordinary peoples lives in the last 40 years than any terrorists. These evil people should be brought to justice and imprisoned.

  28. robert a. brown says:

    Can’t you limit the bloggers to half-a-dozen lines? One tends to dose off trying to get through all the endless, dire nonesence.

    1. Kev says:

      You don’t have to read it if your attention span is limited.

  29. robert a. brown says:

    I can hear the screeches of squeeky cleanliness way up here in the sticks. Whats with all you super clean citizens? I have a sneaking feeling not one of you would have acted any differently in the circumstances especially the hypocrites in the press.

  30. Ian says:

    In his webcast, Gordon Brown suggested that the recent scandals had put people off being a politician.
    Not me. Fantastic salary, expenses that allow you to develop propertyat public expense for huge profits, £40,000 for your partner to ‘run your office’ and able to claim for food, travel, scatter cushions and porn? Sign me up.

    They used to say that Labour governments are brought down by money and Tory ones by sex…so it could be an exciting next few years at Westminster!

  31. Fitzroy says:

    A couple of questions for MPs

    Considering some MPs (eg Mr Gove) make thousands from 2nd jobs as newspaper columnists, etc., why do they need more money to pay for furniture, 2nd homes etc.?

    Also – MPs seem very forgiving of their own “mistakes” does this mean we can all expect more lenient treatment from the Inland Revenue, Social Security, etc?

    Thank you.

  32. Annie says:

    Having just heard what mr martin [house speaker] had to say i am completely dismayed at his attitude – in his position he has surely been part of the mechanism that has enables these mps to plunder the public purse – he should be booted out if he doesn’t do the decent thing and resign.

  33. phil dicks says:

    Spoil your vote. If you abstain, they accuse you of apathy. TURN UP, SPOIL YOUR VOTE.

  34. Jon Brown says:

    Just seen the programme tonight. The only person close to the mark much to my surprise, was the Labour MP.
    1) Transparency – every expense has to be fully pblished along with how & where it qualifies.
    2)

  35. Peter Waller says:

    They are all milking the system and they always have and always will and the general british public and workforce will take it like they always have and always will AND do nothing.

  36. Iain Hill says:

    They say a fish rots from the head! Why are we hearing so little of the claims of our former Leader, who had a small mortgage [legit] on his constituency home, but took out a huge one to finance his property empire in Connaught Square and charged the increased mortgage payments to us?

    He should repay the difference beween the two levels of payment, since property acquisition is not a legitimate part of parliamentary expenses!

  37. Brian Souter says:

    An interesting piece on tonights programme. The only way to clean up this mess is to have MPs pay back expenses received since the beginning of this parliament, and then allow only expenses which the ordinary taxpayer can claim.

  38. Richard Bicknell says:

    Gordo Brown apologised today on behalf of MP’s. IF they are sorry, TRULY SORRY, they will pay back any excessive or boarderline claim. The truth lies in their actions!

    Richard Bicknell

    France

  39. Jon S says:

    on the point of the 2nd homes – i can see why we give money for a london place to live (if they are based far enough away) – but if they then go on to profit from the property sale surely the taxpayer is due that return!

  40. john says:

    I’m still not sure how MPs were allowed to use taxpayer money on lawyers fees in an attempt to stop us finding out how they are misappropriating taxpayer money. Now the truth is starting to emerge shouldn’t they, en masse, be required to re-imperse said fees out of their own pockets?

  41. Gary Blackwood says:

    Why dont thay just scrap the expences and let them just have a wage these idiots are killing this country and the people are letting them nothing will get done to stop these so called leaders of the country they are have commited theft if thay want a second home let them pay for it not us freeze all there bank accounts and take the expences money back of all these idiots and put it into the nhs and schools come on uk stand up to these thefing swines

  42. Louis says:

    Is it possible to show who’s, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly? Just makes it easier for voters to decide who to vote.

  43. Armend Fejzullahu says:

    Why on earth would a MP be excluded from prosecution, when it is very clear, they have been abusing for years and years, tax-payers money!!!! If You or I, the ordinary public, were abusing benefits or tax credits, we WOULD be looking at repaying all the money owned, and possible jail spell. So it makes perfect sense that the likes of Hazel Blear and Oliver Letwin, face repaying the money stolen from tax-payers and be brought to justice if needed! British honest working people, should stop shying away from these real issues and do something about IT! Just a MOAN isn`t enough to stop the UPPER CLASS!

  44. Ian Howes says:

    Gordon Brown apology is not good enough. There are people in this country who are struggling to make ends meet. I myself have had my wages reduce by 10% & i’m worried if I’m going to keep my house even though I privately rent. I am the only wage earner in this household. My wife cannot work through illness but We don’t get any benefits for her illness. So I’m worried how I am going to manage. The MP’s who abused the system should stand down from Parliment or live on the same wage as some of the people who live close or in poverty & see how they can manage

  45. Pearl says:

    I should like to see Tony Blairs expenses for the time he was Leader of the Labour Party and as Prime Minister. How on earth can they call them honourable. Sack all the Government.

    Pearl

  46. judith mound says:

    I work for a charity and my husband is self-employed. We both hase to work extremely hard both mentally and physically. We have paid tax on our earnings not to fraudulently benefit members of parliament but for the essentials we need as members of a struggling country, therefore, because I feel our taxes have been used fraudulently, I want all the tax I and My husband have paid for the last year, refunded. I am sure we can put the money to better use by donating it ton the local community where it belongs!

  47. Guy Reynolds says:

    As Ministers are so wont of saying when they want to restrict the pay of others, “Its not just about the money, its a vocation.” and as such MPs salary should be pegged to lowest paid public sector employees salary not the higher paid civil service mandarins. After all if the low paid are expected to survive so can MPs; this should actually sharpen their thinking on the whole minimum wage and benefits system. Additionally MPs should be paid on an hourly rate, for the hours they book; in this way we wont be paying MPs for their second an third jobs.

    Second home allowances must go, being replaced by furnished hostal accomodation. Travel expenses between the MPs consistuency and the house of commons should be abolished, Other travel expenses should be restricted to lowest available fare on public transport, taxis should only be reimbursed when the distance between any other form of public transport and the destination is more than a 10minute walk or the MP is registered disabled; this will have the advantage of ensureing MPs are fully away of the short comings of public transport and will set the example of it use over the private car.

  48. Jack Neil says:

    MP s should be made to pay back expenses claimed that are not related to the job, tax should be paid on gains and the police should be involved in this scam as it is fraud and theft. the expenses system should be scrapped asap. MP s who have been involved in this should be sacked. MP s who need to stay overnight should use a specified hotel. No second homes.

    1. Peggy says:

      I agree, why are they allowed to get away with this, If it was me or any other member of the public we would be taken to court for fraud. Most working people are struggling to make ends meat, ensuring that all our taxes etc are paid and here are the MP’s cashing in and robbing the state blind. Why have they waited until today to take action, David Cameron is only getting annoyed for his own benefit and not for the general public he is only worried about his reputation now because they were caught out. If I hear one more MP saying they did nothing wrong I’m going to scream In my opinion they are all a bunch of THIEVES!!!!!!!!!!!

  49. Richard says:

    I worked for the British Railways in the 80’s. During that time they abolished ‘scale expenses’ that is expenses that were paid regardless of whether an expense was incurred – an allowance of sort. The reason these were stopped we were told was that the tax office considered them to be a benefit in kind. We changed over to fully receipted expenses as the rest of this country. That was over 20 years ago – why do the politicians believe they should be treated differently to the rest of the country. The idea of such issues as £250 of unreceipted expenses etc etc is just incredible. Harriet speaks of people who have to work in two places need allowances. There are many of us who have had to work in two places and we are not allowed such allowances.

    The politicians are a total disgrace to be frank.

  50. Harry says:

    It is a shame that the Stocks have gone out of fashion, as a few of the Ministers and MPs trying to justify their expenses claims surely belong there.

    The principle should be that an MPs primary residence is their consituency home, and only expenses are allowed for their attendance in the House of Commons.

    Another principle is that MPs must be liable to the same rules as everyone else is concerned regarding expenses.

    The principle should be, like everyone else, MPs must not profit from expenses. It is totally unacceptable that MPs move up the property ladder at Tax Payers expense.

    There must be guidelines as to what are reasonable expenses. Anything above that level must be seriously questioned, and rejected/reduced if excessive.

  51. Jon Brown says:

    Just seen the programme. I’m incensed by the lack of understanding from both MP’s and their critics. Surprisingly the person nearest to the mark was the Labour MP.

    My list of actions would be:-

    1) Salary – how can any MP gain the respect of the people they govern when they are paid significantly more than the majority of the people they govern? – 70% of people in this country earn less than the average wage of £23K – How can the MP’s justify earning 3times that amount as their basic.

    2) Tax – same rules should apply to everyone – no get out and let offs for being an MP

    3) Expenses – only those which are directly related to the job – travel (2nd class only)

    4) 2nd Homes – none – on what possible basis is this allowable? – there are thousands of ordinary people in the real world who have to commute to work out of their own salaries often well below the average. I’ve worked in the private sector for 35 years and commuted at my own expense from one side of the country to the other in for 10 of those years and without any “allowances” and on a salary far less than the £64K MP’s get. Provide overnight accommodation in London free for MP’s only – standard class “Travel Lodge” room

    5) Staff – standard allowance only for Office staff 1 per MP –

    6) 2nd Jobs – no paid for 2nd job permitted, no payments in kind – (and that includes members of the family receiving payments on their behalf)

    7) Current Situation – Election, current MP’s need not apply unless they are prepared to comply with the rules above.

  52. j hill says:

    When you see speaker Martin keen to “get” the ones who exposed the MPs gravy train, you see what is wrong in British politics.If someone fiddles a fiver from the DHSS, they are hounded and jailed. As MPs are in fact in receipt of benefits from the taxpayer, why should they be treated any differently?

    It is time for a change to the whole system. We should have a republic, based on the US model, with a Bill of Rights and a Constitution,and all the MPs who have claimed obscenely should be investigated by the Fraud Squad. It seems OK for Ministers to bring in “arrest without trial” and ignore the rule of law. Perhaps if we had everything written down, with details of what our representatives can and cannot do, we would have more confidence in those we select to represent us.

    In Britain, we forget that ALL government is funded by the taxpayer, and that we are paying THEM. As an employer I think I should have more say over my employees than exists at the moment!! If we can have a mum arrested and jailed because her daughter played truant, we should be able to treat errant MPs in the same way!!!

  53. Adil Hasan says:

    To me the underlying problem is not the MPs expenses, the more serious problem is that the MPs are not answerable to anyone. I cannot how a parliament can have a system of whips forcing MPs to vote a certain way which may be contrary to the MPs constituents.

    I cannot understand how deeply unpopular issues like the poll tax and invading Iraq or Afghanistan can still get through.

    I agree with many – the current system lends MPs to act on their own initiative which is dangerous (based on my own 20-odd years of voting history). They need to some guidance from the people they are meant to be helping.

  54. Duncan Turner says:

    Our ‘leaders’ have lectured the public sector endlessly about ‘waste’. I’m a teacher. There is no money even to buy a VCR in our department. I’ve just spent £75 on books – and I paid this out of my £30,000 salary. I do endless unpaid ‘overtime’, teaching in lunchtimes and after school. The whole education system is subsidised by teachers buying necessary resources out of their own salaries and working for free. And these MPs expect their expenses to be settled by the taxpayer. The hypocrisy! These MPs are not public servants: they are hypocrites, who simply have no conception of the lives lived by other public servants and other taxpayers. Let me claim my expenses and then they’ll have some conception of what it is to be a public servant and what ‘waste’ means in the public sector. These people are hypocrites. It’s such a shame that Bucks County Council won’t pay for the leaky pipe under my tennis court!

  55. Paul Ashurst says:

    The only thing that will make MP’s take notice is a general election. The public can then remove those who have abused our trust. The Public should demand that Parliament be dissolved now. Lets not wait until they feel safe.

  56. stewart soutar says:

    Greed is still the nature of the Beast: A Parcel of Rogues in a Nation. I refer you to the painting of the same title at stewartsoutar.org ….. Enjoy; (it’s free to view and no rules were broken)

  57. Robert Snaith says:

    The scale of MPs’ abuse of expenses clearly goes far beyond the power of casual, belated apologies and resolutions to be better in future to redress. They have dishonoured not only themselves, but 1000 years of history also. Mass ritual suicide – seppuku – is the only way this dishonour can be purged. I suggest the Millenium Dome as a fitting venue – monstrous waste of public money as it was . Each MP should be attended by his constituency chairman, armed with a sword to finish him off if his/her nerve failed. We could then start all over again, with newly selected MPs having a better idea of an appropriate code of conduct!

  58. dave from burnley says:

    they should build a sort of “travel lodge” were all mp’s could stay when at parliment,so they don’t need a second home in london.
    as for having “two home’s”,some people carn’t even buy their first home.
    it seem’s to me as they want to have their cake beside’s eating it

  59. noel wyllie says:

    The Speaker showed to-day, how they all think that they are “Untouchable”

    Every single MP should account for every hour of there working week. Same as Solicitors, and the rest of the working public. To include meetings with meal included, justifing a five course meal with wine, etc. etc. in the name of doing there job of serving the people who elected them.I am a taxi driver and come into contact with a good cross section of the pubic in my area, and the feeling on is as basic as you get. Plus uniform in it total condemnation of these people.

  60. Peter Ashton says:

    What does “sorry” mean?

    Party leaders are now telling us that are sorry. I will believe that when they pay back all those parts of their expense claims that they now say they realise they should not have claimed.

  61. Cliff says:

    I have spent the entirety of two days trawling public opinion web-sites and it is couldn’t be clearer that the public wants one hell of a lot more than weasel words and promises to ‘reform an unsatisfactory system’ – they want investigations, prosecutions, and even imprisonment for some; this is not going to go away, Harperson, until the people have had substantial revenge.

    I was elated beyond words back in ’97 when we finally kicked out our Tory rulers; twelve years on I discover that politicians really ARE ‘all the same’. One thing’s for sure: there’s not a person in the land who’ll view lovely, cuddly, little Hazel Blears with much affection from now on.

    1. phil dicks says:

      A few months back, Blears was moralising/raving on Radio 4 about how ‘cynical’ the electorate were.
      Did she go to bed that night howling with laughter?

  62. Nigel Norfolk says:

    I also had the idea about one single, hotel style residence for Members of Parliament.
    Failing that, why not a maximum amount they can claim per year, dependent on how much time they actually spend in London?

    Whatever amount is set, divide by 52, and only pay them for each FULL week they spend in London.
    Oh, and cut their holidays – even schoolkids don’t get as many holidays as they do!

  63. Gareth says:

    As a genuine severally disabled person, I am disgusted and horrified with the MPs. who have manipulated their rules on expenses. Having to claim ‘means tested benefits’ all my adult life through no fault of my own, meant that I wasn’t allowed to benefit from a small inheritance left to me after my sister’s death in 2000. This could have increased my quality of life considerably and given me some financial security in
    the future, as I am now in my 60s. After taking this matter to a tribunal hearing I was forced to repay the whole amount back to the DWP.

    Therefore, where MPs. have bent the rules on expenses; either in actuality or morally, in my opinion, they should be forced to repay their immoral financial gains. This country is already in dire straits
    financially due to greed. Gareth.

  64. K McCaffrey says:

    The interview was brilliant as was your attitude on this evening’s programme. I think the only thing that can be done is for an election to be demanded by the UK public. Confidence in MPs has gone and it is not coming back.

  65. SATHA says:

    thank you very much for your report. We all sri lankans are very much obliged to yiou. Please do more. best of luck

  66. Steve Saint says:

    Maybe, but then again I wouldn’t go around telling YOU how to live YOUR life then expect you to pay for how I live mine.

  67. Tessa Newman says:

    The speaker is a disgrace to our democracy. He constantly tries to use the police to prevent the exposure of wrong doing by MPs. He tries to prevent MPs from being equal under the law to all ordinary citizens.
    Is it possible to sack him?

  68. Steve Saint says:

    Wrong. The only way an MP would feel threatened is if you put his safety at risk.

    No real advance on the political front is done without some form of rebellion.

    Politicians are born with the “I know best” and “do what I say not what I do” genes and only force can disavow them of their high handed preconceived notions.

    Whether you agree or not its only a matter of time before it comes to that. The best thing is to take the fight to them sooner before the division between ruled and rulers becomes overly intense.

  69. Armend says:

    MPs’ expenses? British People WAKE – UP and smell the COFFEE!!! How long are we going to let the MPs insult our intellegence? Think of milions on a £12000 a YEAR, and Hazel Blears’s or Oliver Letwin’s of this, otherwise DECENT country!

  70. Anthony Martin says:

    The ability to manipulate the calling of a genedral election is a down right abuse of human rights. Gordon Brown and his poodles should get out of government. I voted these corrupt bunch in and, since Tony Blair til now, they turned out to be worse than the Thatcher era. Lies, spin, corruption, statistics fiddling, society ruining, hatred breading, spying state, and down right abuse of power is what these people have been. All politicians are the same. The Selfish Gene at it’s best…..look after ones self and, F… the rest of society.
    Any change for the better on the way? What do you think?!!! A big fat NO.

  71. George says:

    Another superb display by our leaders; leading by example, and a fine display of Britishness, is it any wonder we are regarded as Rip of Britian. This rot needs to be cut away fast, our world is a different place from what it was 100 years ago. People are much more informed and educated. As the saying goes:- You can fool some of the people, some of the time; but not all of the people all of the time.

  72. Steve Saint says:

    Good point about theuir being more MP’s with more local attachment. As long as it goes hand in hand with reduction in cost. The general amount we spend on the political classes should be looked at across the board as I expect local councillors fraud is even more widespread.

    The removal of a party based system where people vote unthinkingly for the party “brand” is paramount. It serves no useful purpose and is anti-democratic anyway. It might make the electorate think more about who they are voting in and why.

  73. P Cross says:

    Jon, another great programme again tonight. Such a shame that those MP’s not abusing the system are getting tarred with the same brush as those dipping their noses in the trough, at the taxpayers expense. The whole system of Parliament seems to be unravelling before our eyes. The Speakers indignant attitude today in the House, slapping down MP’s who dare comment, just shows how out of touch this man is – he needs to go right now – along with all those who have been abusing the system, Any employee of a private company found milking the system in this way would have had their marching orders long ago.

    Keep up the great work. Channel 4 News proves time and again that it is at the front of news broadcasting in the UK.

  74. Ross Nesbitt says:

    I Am Pleased That All Of The MPs Expences Has Finally Been Published, As The Public Have A Right To Know Exactly How, And What The Government Is Spending Taxpayers Money On. I Strongly Beleve That All MPs And The Priminister, Should All Pay The Right Tax On Their Saleries, And Every Other Tax Like The Rest Of Us. Also The The Huge Extra Perks That MPs Get Has Got To Be Abolised With Imediate Effect, In Order For The Country To Move Forward. MPs Have Gone On For Way To Long Lining Their Pockets And Bank Accounts With Cash. This Has Got To Stop Now. All MPs Of All Parties, Have Got To Abide By The Laws And Regulations That They Make, Like The Rest Of Us And Pay Tax Like The Rest Of Us. Also I Very Strongly Think That MPs Including The Priminister, Should NOT Vote On Their Own Saleries. An Independent Public Body Should Do That. While MPs Have Been Lining Their Pokets, The Gap Between Rich And Poor Has Gone Sky High, With Inocent Law Abiding Citizence Loosing Their Homes Jobs And Lively Hoods. The Bankrupsy Rate Is Also Far To High. This Boys With Toys Refering To MPs Has Got To Stop Now. Nobody Is Above The Law, Truth Justice And The British Way. Play The Game Like The Rest Of Us Or Get Out.

  75. Steve Saint says:

    Not if there was a movement that really rallied the nation where almost no one voted. It would send with a clear voice the current game of three (or two) card trick was up and the days of political parties were over.

    Sure the party with the most votes would still win but with what kind of mandate. Could the queen seriously call for such a government to be formed. It would be politically impossible. Just the sort of crisis this country needs.

  76. Fred Otto says:

    The main thing that amazes me is that all of the MPs that have been caught with their fingers in the biscuit jar think that the entire affair will be forgotten once they apologize. No talk of reembursement on their part nor any steps by the CPS regarding prosecution for misappropriation of tax payers money.

    Any regular citizen on any kind of state benefit that is caught out cheating the system faces prosecution and possibly time at her Majesties pleasure. Not these individuals. A lame excuse or an apology wipes the slate clean without further consequences.

    It reeks to high heaven.

  77. Gina Mayor says:

    People ask always why young people are “out of control”…what kind of example is this DISGRACEFUL behaviour giving to them?? The dishonesty, underhandedness the GREED is shocking beyond belief and I cannot have a single bit of respect for any of them. The ARROGANCE of these people is unforgiveable!! I do not want to vote for ANY of them now, which I find absolutely terrifying….who do we vote for???? People go to prison for benefit fraud when earning a few pounds extra…….some to feed their children and to survive. Non-payment of taxes and TV Licences…..shoplifting, FRAUD……people from homes where people live with their children below the poverty line. We need better social services,care in hospitals, care for the elderly, better equipment for schools. Knowing all this………these people are WORSE than benefit cheats because they are using OUR taxes to line their own pockets……they should be prosecuted as the criminals they are. Just like their constituents would be if they were caught. I am so ASHAMED that I voted for these people!!!!!!!!!!!

  78. Steve Saint says:

    Because most people don’t recognise that we live in a one party dictatorship?

    The 2 main parties are no different from one another in almost all respects. Where they are really united is that they think are sovreign not us the people. A 300 year old fight might at last reach its proper conclusion!

  79. Michael says:

    The 1st rule for MP’s embarking on the Westminster gravy train is, in that old Kennedy phrase, “Ask not, what you can do for the taxpayers of England, but ask,”What can the taxpayers of England do for me”.

    That seems to me to be a fair summary of our corrupted political system.

    One of the first acts of the Blair government,was to significantly increase the pay & perks of MP’s. Remember Blair ‘freezing’ his PM’s salary?

    Well,when did he ‘unfreeze’ it?

    And of course, he gets £60K p.a. pension, for his ten year holiday,at taxpayers expense,not to mention the kickbacks,for his support for Bush in Iraq.

    Also,when elected,he said,I do not intend to serve more than ONE term in office,well, a week is a long time in politics & he seemed to forget those words at the following election.

    In my opinion MP’s should NOT be allowed to have any ‘retainers’ or renumeration from companies et’c,whilst they are serving as MP’s, you CANNOT serve TWO masters at the same time. Either serve your constituents,or business, one or the other only.

    MP’s, should not be allowed second homes & they should not be allowed tax free Capital Gains on any assets bought with any expenditure allowance.

  80. Mili says:

    If MPs are allowed to steal why can’t we all do it and not pay back?

  81. Anne Spence says:

    Certainly fascinating reading. My suspicions have been answered and Parliament should be dissolved and certainly the speaker should be given his marching orders as should many others, Hazel Blears for one. They talk about trust – have they totally lost the plot. THE LEOPARD DOES NOT CHANGE ITS SPOTS. As for sorry if they really meant it they would reimburse, what they well know, were not legitimate perks- after all they are educated people. The green book is not difficult to intpret. All they are worried about is the fact that they caught out and we have The Telegraph to thank for that. The lowest of the low and they do not seem to have any shame – mind boggling.

  82. Anthony Martin says:

    Ordinary British people should stop being cowards and, fearful of ‘breaking laws that these evil scum have deliberately create’ (more and more anti protest, media controling, spying, exclusion zones, ID cards, etc. etc. are on the way) and take action against these Politicians, corporate fat-cats, media controlers, resource dominating rich scum, in the UK.

    A Dickensian state has developed in the UK over the last 40 years and, the media filter out the truth because the rich, political and corrupt immoral people are generally at the elm. Channel 4 being the exception, until they are shut up via some law that’ll be forced forward.

  83. Plum Tart says:

    Sorry they were caught with their porkies in the trough…….!

  84. Stuart McGregor says:

    Brilliant show tonight Jon, on the back of which I wrote to my MP. How I would’ve loved to have used the colourful language I used during the show.

    Can the public not report profiteering from expenses to the Inland Revenue using there online form? It’d be interesting to get a response from them on the show.

  85. samraj says:

    Is there anyway your reporters get an interview from Martin LEACH the speaker in commons? He is now become the arrogant face of Labour which considers itself beyond scrutiny and above law!!

  86. tonny mukiibi says:

    Kudos to the media for a job well done. The Westminster saga is testimony to the fact that most MPs regardless of their political affilliations are birds of the same feather. They are interested in feathering their nests with impunity.

    It is an immoral shame to say that our legislators are earning peanuts when non of them is pocketing not less than £64,000.

    An independent body on this matter must be constituted by people of integrity. However, former members from both Houses should not be part of it.

  87. Rina Darwin says:

    I have felt very sad to see the system being abused. I feel that the solution is that all those involved who have abused the system should pay back. A ‘sorry’ is not good enough. Will the tax office accept a sorry if I don’t pay my taxes?

  88. John Devine says:

    Excellent interview. Thoroughly enjoyed watching this detestable woman squirming. Our political system is not fit for purpose and should be completely reformed – root branch and rules…

    1. sylvia says:

      I have always been a very positive person about our country but now I despair. With the disgraceful exploitation  that is going on with so many politicians and the fall of the banking system and all the exploitation and dishonesty that has gone on there, we have been totally let down by the people we rely on so much. The apologies from the politicians are worthless, they are only sorry that their exploitation has been exposed and they are losing the perks that they have become so good at manipulating to their own benefit. I do not believe that someone who will use their position to line their own pockets at the expense of the very people they are supposedly elected to represent, has any morals at all.

      This country needs a completely restructured parlaimentary and banking system that is truly open and honest, with clearly defined and simple to understand, rules and regulations, independently adminstered NOT by politicians or bankers! 

  89. Richard says:

    Why pay any expenses.. build an apart-hotel building near westminster. Every MP gets a room for the duration of their time in office. Catering included , and a train pass back to their home. No expenses to be claim, everyone equal –
    simple solution

    1. Julie says:

      I agree. What about using all the empty properties in London. I’m sure there are some tower blocks MPs could reside in. It would also help them connect with the community.

  90. Cliff says:

    If nobody else gets their come-uppance, Margaret Moran and the super-rich Tories really must…and Blears…plus, of course, Vaz. Oh, and Maude, Oliver Nitwit, McNulty, Hoon, Lansley and…well, it’s most of them really, isn’t it?

  91. j. Okely says:

    I recall the Callaghan government allowing MPs, civil servants and police to jump the waiting list for salary review at the expense of university teachers. I am a semi retired professor and never earned anything like even an ordinary MP. Our expenses include books and computers, ink cartridges, printers because most of us work at home as well as in university offices. Heating is turned off at weekends and in the evenings at the universities when some of us do our writing.So our home is also our workplace. We have to collect every receipt if we want to offset any of these research expenses against tax.We are never given these items free, let alone a desk and bookshelves at home. We don’t have a personal researcher thrown in. Blair and others have demanded we produce publications in endless audit of international excellence.

    But bone headed MPs are funded to play tennis, have their gardens tended etc. They probably never read, given their domestic vanities.They don’t need even to keep a receipt for a book, let alone computers, printers etc…All this is taken for granted, sorted by their back up staff which may include relatives. J. Smith’s husband is paid a professorial salary to assist and watch soft porn.
    We in universities etc don’t have golden goodbyes and massive pensions .
    MPs money making and sleaze priorities show the utter contempt they have for ideas and intellectual innovation. While collaborating in the destruction of an industrial base, they have destroyed even the knowledge base.The introduction of student loans abolishing grants (This devastating effect on students from poorer families is not even mentioned in Blunkett’s biography) also brought hitherto untold gifts to the offspring of the rich.

    I left the Labour Party when Cherie Blair claimed thousands from the Labour party for personal hairstyling during the last election. Her husband could not charge the tax payer for his wife’s vanity but it shows the mind set which now MPs have had for years. The majority of MPs have profited from university degrees which gave them the leg up. Their response was to make sure they continued up their ego ladder. And in thrall to bankers whose perks and fairy expertise they envied. They gained power not to think in depth, innovate and use their knowledge, only to parade and strut as media celebrities on the make.

    Congratulations to the wonderful woman who persisted through the courts to expose their venality above the law of the land.

  92. scott says:

    MPs are corrupt sickening individuals how can they claim these ridiculous expenses amounts with No Remorse and watch its people struggle with heating bills, food and accommodation.I have no faith in any of the three parties MP’s now and i will vote for one of the smaller one’s.

  93. j. Okely says:

    I sent a long comment before answering the forrester questionnaire

  94. Alison says:

    Harriet Harman complained on the Today programme about having had Fathers for Justice on her roof. She said she wouldn’t wish that on anyone. Does she think this experience, which only lasted a few days, is a worse ordeal than what she has presided over for hundreds, possibly thousands of innocent men and their children, whose lives have been wrecked by the Kafkaesque actions of family courts and the CSA.

  95. Cliff says:

    It’s 23.05 hrs Monday and the fan’s been flinging the excrement far and wide for a good four days yet STILL the MPs are referring to a ‘rotten system’. We saw through this expression last Friday when they first started the verbal inculcation but the nouveau benefit-cheats are so contemptuous of the public’s ability to think that they STILL think the tactic will work. Don’t they think we’re perfectly aware of what constitutes the ‘rotten’ element in all of this?

  96. acko says:

    class war is coming to a town near you real soon.

  97. phil dicks says:

    Is it my imagination or do all these politicians look genuinely stunned by this tsunami of allegations? They almost seem horrified by the scale of their graspiness. Let’s hope.

  98. phil dicks says:

    Is it my imagination or do all these politicians look genuinely stunned by this tsunami of allegations? They almost seem horrified by the scale of their own graspiness. Let’s hope.

  99. Honj says:

    I find it absolutely disgracefull that a ‘Ghurka’ who has fought and seen his comrades die for this country should not be allowed a home in the UK. Whilst these good for nothing ‘right honorable’ (Ahem) elected? representatives of ours busy themselves wondering what soft furnishings should go in which home, What porn film should they watch tonight, That lawn needs a mower…..etc.

    We have men and women fighting and dying overseas who earn nowhere near the amounts MP’s do, How must they feel about their taxes being spent on these ridiculous expense claims?
    Makes you wonder who the real enemy is.

  100. Kev says:

    A SUGGESTION

    Everyone write to their own MP and demand to see all expenses received. If they refuse or have been milking us, don’t vote for them next time. If they have behaved honourably (as mine has actually), vote for them. Make it clear – directly.

    1. Lord says:

      The current and future expenses that emerge should be examined in more detail, particularly the mortgage relief that has been claimed, the duration of mortgage and financial offsetting when compared to profits ( potential or otherwise) may help to quantify the extent and intent of the corruption of the spirit of the rules.

      My own view on the longer term fall out of this recent crisis in governance is that the Labour MP,s that remain post general election will make a formidable opposition given their experience, coupled with the unburdening of the constraints of Government. Which may go some way to restoring an apparent democratic deficit under their watch. As for the MP’s of other parties a simple test of the integrity of their membership based on the expenses disclosures should indicate a fitness to govern in the next parliamentary cycle.

  101. fcatzzz says:

    MP’s proffered expenses and did not expect full disclosure??????

  102. Susan says:

    The minimum wage is £5.73 an hour as fixed by our MPs. They consider this enough for a family to live on and yet so many of them have been claiming just expenses for this amount or even more in a year. To claim Jobseekers allowance you have to be willing to travel for up to an hour and a half (I think) to your place of work. With high speed trains in and out of London it must cover a lot of our MPs constituencies. Working away from home is not easy but each person that puts them self up for election is making that choice. The MPs expense system is immoral and should be done away with completely.

  103. Gary says:

    The moral compass of these politicians seems to be directly correlated to their outing in the media. If they are so contrite, admitting the expenses system is utterly and totally flawed, why didn’t they apologise sooner and offer to refund the taxpayer before they were outed. Answer, most of them are shysters !

    1. David Follis says:

      or perhaps they’ve lost their moral compasses in their moats!

  104. Honj says:

    A general election NOW!

  105. Aren says:

    £115k pa for Cameron ought to be easily sufficient for him to pay his own bills, and so set him apart from his fellow MPs scraping along on a mere £62k who have been FORCED to use the Allowance system to allow them to serve us, the voters and to allow them a “family life …”

    But one moment, Cameron too, has his snout in the trough: nearly £700 on garden clearance and taking all the annual Allowance so that taxpayers fund his mortgage interest, council rates and the rest! That others were in the pig-sty is hardly an excuse for a person claiming the high ground. Surely, what we ought to expect is leadership: showing by example, placing self-interest second to pursuing an agenda for the public good, not seeking to exclude PMs from the FoI Act e.t.c?

    Blaming the “system” is wholly inappropriate for behaviour which if subject to the clear light of day, would not have taken place. Would MPs (and members of the Lords) have been able to convince the general public of the requirement for public duty to include cleaning swimming pools, getting rid of dry rot in a partner’s home, dog food, furnishing a private home on taxpayers money so as to make ready for sale …?

    No, the answer is so clearly No! MPs involved in this sorry affair – spreading over more years than is revealed in the Telegraph – understand full well that, in the public glare they would have behaved differently – instead too many honourable members behaved dishonestly. Reading the Fees Office behaviour in this though, brings equal dismay: surely had they effectively challenged claims so obviously UNCONNECTED with members’ public duties – there would have been far, far less opportunity for greedy. opprtunistic behaviour!

  106. fcatzzz says:

    Astonished at disclosure?
    Accusations of stirring up Media Interest?

    For goodness sake how removed from Public Interest can an elected body really be

    Next they will be discussing the ineffectiveness of the Job Centres as if no one has been reporting this for years – old jobs dispalyed on walls – new application for every standard job – no cv or job seeker details being passed to potential employers.

    Still nice to know that should job seekers indeed get on their bikes and seek work elsewhere, MP’s feel they are entitled to a second home – although I had thought they were beginning to take measures against this because it was considered to be benefit fraud or something???

  107. Dale Smith says:

    I ’emailed the PM’ on the government website yesterday : I was asking them in June ’08 that there ought to be a maximum wage. By this I meant the huge bonuses bankers were getting and MP expenses. I also reminded them that Labour was historically set up and traditionally renowed to represent the under represented working classes. Now I feel that no current MP can represent me because they are all priviledged and I am not. Therefore they cannot possibly understand the financial and societal difficulties I daily endure. MP’s have abused the system and tax payers money (albeit ‘within the rules’) Moreover, the abuse of the nations trust is nothing less than Anti Social Behaviour.

  108. Dale Smith says:

    Those extreme cases of people getting thousands of pounds in benefit fraud are very rare. However, anyone who had to claim any type of benefit payments in recent years, including the disabled, elderly and families in poverty etc, felt fear, anxiety and confusion as they were demonised and held up to scrutiny by means testing. The paperwork alone is a nightmare for people who need to claim benefits. Perhaps MPs should be means tested too.

  109. Cliff says:

    WHOA!!! now it’s being mooted by the TV stations that, in all probability, no legal action can be taken against these parasites because no rules were broken! Does not the caveat ‘…solely for the purposes of enabling that member to fulfil his/her duties…” make it crystal clear that feeding the dog, cleaning the pool, evading tax, buying cushions, fixing the tennis court et al is ILLEGAL and, therefore, punishable by law? These unspeakable people must not be allowed to get away with it – whatever their party.

  110. abby says:

    There will always be questions about what is and what is not allowable as reasonable when a system relies on receipts being submitted. There is already a Treasury-approved system governing additional expenses incurred by middle-ranking civil servants. This system allows a fixed sum to be paid for each of the first 28 nights necessary absent from a defined home. After 28 nights it is considered that affordable lodgings should have been found and a much lower weekly rate replaces the nightly allowance. This is not designed to be able to maintain a second home but to partially compensate for having to pay for other accomodation when away from home. Travel expenses (either first or second class dependant on rank) are payable in addition subject to production of evidence of the expense. What is wrong with extending an already existing scheme such as this to MPs in the House of Commons?

    Currently, I would suggest, instead of abstaining from voting in elections we simply do not vote for candidates who have submitted excessive expense claims, voting instead for candidates who would then have the chance to demonstrate how moral they are in the hope that they get the message.

  111. Simon Keen says:

    The most horrifying aspect of the current poitical crisis is that rigorous attempts were made to prevent the revelations being made public. Clearly, we have a rotten parliament; it should be dissolved immediately and a General Election held in 3 weeks.

  112. Cliff says:

    ‘Confidence tricksters’ is not too strong a term to summarize those fiddling MPs…Like most people (I suspect) I’ve had my favourites, my bogey-men, the ones I’ve respected, the one’s who’ve made me smile….and all the time they were robbing me!

  113. Richard Oppe says:

    The whole issue of MPs paying Income Tax on these expenses also needs to be exposed. Their Green Book (Section 3.3) clearly states expenses must be “wholly, exclusively and necessarily” incurred to be deductible from income for tax purposes. It is obviously that much of what MPs have claimed does not pass the test (which applies to all UK taxpayers) so let’s expose their tax evasion where MPs have not paid tax on their expenses. Come on C4 News. Your attempts at this on last night’s programme were pathetic. Read the Green Book -it’s blatantly clear income tax is payable…

  114. wendy says:

    does anyone know how much Christopher Kelly et al are getting in expenses for looking at these reforms. I notice Mr Blair’s haven’t come to light, he left at theright time didn’t he.
    I wouldn’t mind looking at theexpenses claims by those in local councils or who run charities either as all funded by our money.
    I’d also nominate Heather Brooke for an OBE for services to the community, well done her for sticking with this

  115. Cliff says:

    In the words of that great world statesman, George W Bush: “Fool me once…shame on…me – you…fool me twice…ya don’t git fooled agin!”

  116. Cliff says:

    Just been listening to Cameron at a press conference; anyone would think HE’D uncovered this scandal! To say he was brazening it out would be the understatement of the year, the cheeky basket. I shall use my vote at both the Euro-election and next year’s General election – but it won’t be for a mainstream party, nor will it be ever again.

  117. Christine says:

    I think its disgusting that mp’s who should be an example to us all have acted in such a selfish way, any person with an ounce of decency would of realised it is wrong to effectively steal tax payers money to subsidise theyre allready luxurios lifestyles compared to the rest of us.
    They should be made to pay it all back down to the last penny.
    Ive lost all faith in government officials and mps now, well, the little I had left anyway.
    Sign my petition and make them pay back what they owe!!!
    http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/christine815/index.html

  118. Dale Smith says:

    “We’re Closing in –

    Deliberately withholding information that affects your claim is stealing. That’s why we are targeting benefit thieves!

    The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) takes benefit theft very seriously. Although the vast majority of people who claim benefits are honest, those who steal benefits are picking the pockets of law-abiding taxpayers. In 2007-08 benefit thieves stole an estimated £800 million from public funds, that’s why we are determined to catch them. ”

    You will note the part about picking the pockets of law-abiding tax payers.

    Those extreme cases of people getting thousands of pounds in benefit fraud are very rare. Anyone who had to claim any type of benefit payments in recent years, e.g. the disabled, elderly and families in poverty etc, felt fear, anxiety and condemnation as they were demonised and held up to scrutiny by means testing. The paperwork alone is a nightmare for people who have the need to claim benefits.
    I didn’t hear Stephen Fry saying “it’s all very bourgeois and tedious” about those awful adverts about benefit fraud:

    “• With over 600 calls a day to our hotline
    • With over 3,000 fraud investigators
    • With over 200 benefit thieves reported online every day
    • By carrying out over 2,000 investigations every week
    • By cross-checking the bank accounts of benefit thieves
    • With hidden cameras and mobile surveillance
    • With every means at our disposal ”
    “It’s not really that important” Stephen Fry says about fiddling. He wasn’t saying that about people earning a couple of extra quid for basic living expenses.
    He talks as if we lack the knowledge to understand the nature of politians.

  119. Meg Howarth says:

    Yes, we do need to build from the bottom up, participatory not representative democracy. See comment to Jon’s earlier blog ‘Life still means life…’ sent at 12.44 today.
    Best. Meg H.

  120. David Follis says:

    A role for the monarchy?? Now that latest polls show an almost universal public contempt for parliament, what about the monarchy’s role in action to restore confidence? Not sure of the constituional position, but as this is now well beyond party politics and given that it is “Her Majesty’s” Government and loyal opposition, it sounds as if the monarchy should at least make a public statement. Otherwise, frankly, what is its point.

  121. JW says:

    John – what an amazing show tonight, can you please publish the details of what every MP has been claiming (by name and constituency), so i can contact them and ask them to justify them or at least hold them to account at the next election?

  122. JW says:

    I am totally incensed by the details of what MP’s have been claiming as expenses…. totally disgusting.

    The country is in recession, people are really worried about jobs and there are teachers/nurses slogging their guts out for £20K p.a.. Then we see that MP’s are claiming for silk cushions from John Lewis, manure, chandeliers… unbelieveable.

    What makes matters worse is they have known that the details would be coming out and did nothing to try and clean up their (MP’s) act. Either they are really stupid or they think we are thick! (I think a bit of both).

    We have been shafted by the bankers and bailed them out with huge pensions… now it seems we are being shafted by the people who should be representing us… who is next?

    Dear MP’s:
    The genie is out of the bottle, you can’t put it back in again… to hide behind ‘its okay according to the rules or its the rules that are at fault’… is just not good enough.

    It would help if someone (anyone) would stand up, be contrite and actually say WE ARE SORRY! (only 3 little words)

    I think we would have a little more respect for you – it takes a ‘man’ to say sorry… well thats what i was taught growing up. You seem to think it is a sign of weakness.

  123. Don says:

    That was an astonishing attack you made on Theresa May , Jon! May I remind you that David Cameron was not responsible for setting up this expenses arrangement and its rules and isn’t part of the Committee who approves these sums. Neither is Theresa May!

    David Cameron said today that until The Daily Telegraph published therse facts today, he had no idea what had been claimed for by members of his party. As soon as he found out, he started to deal with it. … more than Gordon Brown has done!

    Why not have a member of the aforementioned committee and ask why these dubious expenses were allowed?

  124. Mark says:

    I visited the commons recently and was told by a researcher ‘….this is the cheapest pint you’ll get in London mate…’ I was astounded and almost demanded a free one! How much do we pay for them to get pi@£ed?!

  125. Mike Walters says:

    IS THIS FRAUD? If any of us non politicians had acted in this way we would have faced immediate gross misconduct charges and dismissal from our jobs. I suspect we would also have been investigated and prosecuted for fraud as well. As an example, to claim no tax is due on a home you have sold claiming it is your main property whilst at the same time claiming benefits for the same property as a second home seems to me to be a clear case of fraud that requires investigation and prosecution. I suspect that many of these other “expenses” will fall into the same category.
    Were the rest of us non politicians guilty of these actions i suspect we would not simply be given a smack on the wrist and asked to pay it back – we would be dismissed, prosecuted and find ourselves almost certainly in a position where we would be unable to obtain employment in a similar position of responsibility.
    If this does not happen to these politicians then these double standards will be, and should be, the downfall of this government and indeed all the political parties involved. We must be able to trust our elected representatives.
    Please can this be changed from a witch hunt to a fraud and gross misconduct enquiry.

  126. Peggy says:

    John, Love your show thank you so much for giving Theresa May a run for her money she needs to take a leaf from your book on how to be honest

  127. phil dicks says:

    ‘An arms race of piety’ (wish I’d thought of that!).

  128. Dennis Junior says:

    Jon: probably yes, there will be murkier gravy on this ongoing story to be forthcoming soon…

  129. Matthew Bodycombe says:

    Just a sordid mess really. I have supported the Tories in the past but the claims from multi millionaire ariistocrats out of the public purse made my blood boil and i will think hard about supporting them in future. I am surprised by Michael Ancram aka the Marquis of Lothian. I have met him and thought he was a thoroughly decent man. Douglas Hogg’s imperious arrogance gave the impression of old style privilege and entitlement and never mind the little people. At least some of the nobility of believed in Noblesse Oblige.

  130. Honj says:

    The political establishment in this country are an effing joke! But the public are not laughing. I mean it all seems a bit surreal, here we sit chatting and posting blogs unable to say what we REALLY feel through fear of prosecution, when what we should be doing is marching on london and watching westminster burn (with them inside preferably)!
    Lets see how untouchable they feel then. After being lied to over the war in Iraq, a conflict in which hundreds of thousands ordinary people just like you and me have died, The so called war on terror in Afghanistan in which countless more have perished not mention our servicemen and women who have been killed.
    The squandering of our hard earned cash keeping a few greedy banks from going under during this economic meltdown, which happened on their watch!
    And now this, Surprise surprise we find our lovable elite are on the take, to the tune of who knows how much?
    This would make an excellent carry on film if the situation wasn’t so dire for millions of ordinary people up and down the country.
    MARCH ON PARLIMENT! GET THEM OUT!

    An effing angry non-voter!

    1. phil dicks says:

      They are ‘untouchable’. It would nice if politicians held a moratorium on any future moral statements/policies re obesity/smoking/binge-drinking/safe sex/etc.
      From now on, they can leave the morals to us – at least we know what morality looks like.

  131. christopher mcmahon says:

    Too Late, Damage Done.

  132. Helen says:

    Immoral, disgraceful and outrageous – that is all I have to say about greedy MPs who filed inappropriate claims for their second homes.
    I certainly won’t be voting for my MP who claimed for the cost of removing moles from under his lawn!

  133. BRUCE CROFTS says:

    Jon, HAZEL BLEARS Second Home.
    We don’t know what M/s Blears paid for her second home, a small London Flat but according to CEEFAX she has now agreed to pay Capital Gains Tax of £13,333:00.
    therefore, as CGT is 40% the difference
    between the original purchase price and the selling price would be £33,333:00
    (40%-££13,333 + 60%-£20,000:00 )
    M/s Blears makes £20,000 nett. of tax
    on the property, plus the £850 per mnth.
    mortgage payments which apparently
    are within the rules.
    They say the average wage is around
    £25,000 p.a. but in this area the average
    working man would be doing very well to
    get £17,000 p.a.(West Sussex)

    It cannot be right for a Secretary of
    State, already well paid, to be able to manipulate her entitlement to a
    mortgage paid flat to profit by more than
    an ordinary working mans annual wage,
    all financed by the Public Purse.
    And we understand she is currently
    repeating the process, this time with a
    £1,000:00 per mnth. mortgage!!! bc.

  134. John cooper says:

    Theresa May would not answer your question it was so simple my teenage daughter understood it but it is just typical of this sort of people evade the question when it is to awkward.These people need to go and go now it is absolutley disgusting the level of corruption we are hearing about nevermind David cameron i new nothing about this what sort of leader is that.I fully agree with a jury service style of government and one term and one term only.The politics comes from the Greek word polis meaning city or state and the word tic means to most people a blood sucking parasite how apt then Westminister inhabited by a tribe of blooding sucking parasites.

  135. Cliff says:

    Mike Walters’ contribution, above, is spot-on. This scandal simply can not be allowed to fade away because Cameron & Co. Ltd have blustered their indignation at their colleagues’ corrupt practices…anybody would think the Tory leader had unearthed this outrage! Obviously, Jon, you have a sensitive remit in which to work, but I implore you to do your bit in bringing these traitors to court.

  136. Morinsh says:

    1. Re: “an accident that has waited three decades to happen” – would this have anything to do with Mrs Thatcher and the Great Home-owning (two of them) Economy? I believe the previous arrangement allowed MPs to rent & claim back for living in London, making it much more transparent (but also, if applied at today’s prices, much more expensive, perhaps).

    2. Tony Benn’s suggestion that MPs should be treated like all professionals who have work-related expenses, and have to submit them to the Inland Revenue, paid out of a larger salary. None of these strange expenses would get past a tax inspector – I know, because when I started work as a broad-
    caster I had to meet just such a being face-to-face, and defend myself vigorously. Might bring them all back to earth a bit.

  137. David Wainwright says:

    The other issue lurking round the corner is MPs & second jobs. In the light of recent financial & banking chaos, it would be illuminating to find out how many MPs and Peers receive income from the banking sector as Board members, etc.

  138. Dr david Hill says:

    The so-called ‘Independent’ body of accountants/auditors that is now being hailed by politicians to make sure that this expenses scandal never happens again, will be nothing but ‘independent’ if the politicians behind closed doors have anything to do with the matter.

    Indeed, these so-called independent arbiters of what is a legitimate expense and what is not, will be told off the record I am sure that if they do their job diligently (for the political class’s remuneration and not for public benefit), that they will be handsomely rewarded financially and also with the nation’s honours (those things that these days that are just rewards for friends in high places who have given something back to our political classes and not directly the nation, usually again behind closed doors).

    Not until we have ‘common’ people (the actual electorate) who are chosen by the people), will we ever have full transparency and an incorrupt government, just for expenses regime alone. The enormous problem for the British electorate is that the expenses debacle that is endemic with the system, may just be the tip of the iceberg of an widespread political structure that just does not know what is right from wrong.

    Today’s and yesterday’s announcements that MPs are now queuing up to pay back what they said only last week was acceptable and that they had done no wrong, underlines the disturbing and alarming mindset of our present political incumbents in Westminster. No way would you buy a second hand car off them and one should definitely not believe anything they say or any assurances that they give. Otherwise we might as well believe in Never-Never land’

    Dr. David Hill
    World Innovation Foundation Charity

  139. kerri-ane says:

    i dont understand why we let them get away with it. to think there is a rule for them to take our hard earned taxes! i always downed people that didnt work and claim benifits but thats exactly what the mps are doing! i just think that the taxes should have been spent on something more worth while like funding for hospitals. us as a country is suffering through there greedy-ness! if we get something free from work, like a massage you would take it but thhis is just taking it way to far!

    They moan about the amount of people that dont vote over the years but no wonder that we dont they are thieving
    b*****ds.

  140. kerri-ane says:

    no wonder we are in a credit crunch!!!!

  141. David Follis says:

    Looking on the brighter side….

    Perhaps this debacle has made us start to ask some long overdue questions about the poor quality and often undemocratic nature of our institutions.
    I’m sure most of us recognise its failings, such as:
    CANDIDATE SELECTION – the party selection process effectively excludes any public choice on who might best represent our interests. We can only take what is offered, based on the club mentality of party grandees. This means that many able and honest people never get past first base, and inevitably preserves an overwhelming bias on gender, race and background.
    HOUSE OF LORDS – who would have thought in the 1960s that this clapped out relic would still be around in 2009? In that name of sanity, if not democracy, what on earth do we have to do to get rid of it?
    HEAD OF STATE – I know this is a difficult one for many – especially for some older citizens, but the present crisis has again highlighted the inability of our monarchy to act in a presidential role to restore public confidence in the institution and processes of government. None of us has any idea what views this institution has on the crisis, let what action it might take to secure change. If we do continue with this institution (and I’m not necessarily saying we should), it must have a much clearer constitutional role to guarantee the effectiveness of our democracy and the standards of those who work in it.

    I don’t think I am guilty of hyperbole if I say that there has been no other time in my 55 year life that have I known such widespread dissatisfaction with our parliamentary sytem. Wouldn’t it be great if this unity could be a catalyst for REAL change on these issues.

    Is it just Me??

  142. jessica dobson says:

    Surely, these MP’s are crooks. If it was joe public claiming taxpayers money they would be prosecuted. The MP’s are thieves there is not doubt about it. So why are they not charged with fraudulent theft, the old boy network still exists in the MP’s walk of life. These people get paid for doing the job that they do they are privileged to be doling this work for the British.

    Why are they not sacked? This would be done if they were in the private or public sectors of commerce and industry.

    1. Daidin says:

      Why is the debate duscussing just the past 4 years?

      Lickuy MPs. They can afford to simply pay-back the money. Someone on the dole can’t afford that. Ah well..the rich get richer…etc

  143. Cliff says:

    …watching C4 news…Bottomley just couldn’t give Krishnan a straight answer could he? Huhne was little better, and even Kate Hoey hedged around a bit. Keep up the good investigative work C4!

  144. Ron Smart says:

    Dear Sirs

    I profoundly hope you get this before the end of your current News (14/05/09 7pm). I have just witnessed one of the MP with Krishnan (Lib Dem I believe) state that if an MP does not cancel an arrangement then ‘intent’ may not be proven and fraud may therefore not exist. I am no lawyer but with respect to the benefits analogy so often espoused quite rightly by your audience _ I state:

    Surely if a benefit claimant who obtains a job then ‘fails to cancel’ their benefit claim then they are still surely liable to prosecution for intended fraud – I would so love to see you put this to that MP – their arrogance and attempts to defend their colleagues add insult to injury – and finally they all keep quoting that they obeyed the Rules but please please ask them again and again Who wrote the rules They DID! to feather their nests when they could not get pay awards/increases through.

    Thank you for reading this

    Kind regards

    Ron Smart

    PS apologies for any typos – written in haste to make news prog today I hope.

  145. peejay says:

    I think now is the time to hit these greedy sods by lobbying to reduce the no of MP ‘S..Do we really need 648 in Parliament!! How often do you see more than a dozen or two in the Commons ??
    By reducing the number of MP’s by a half to about 320 would ensure that better qualitymembers and any skankiness easier to keep tabs on.

  146. Morinsh says:

    Jon – I am perturbed by the euphemisms that now accompany any apology or pseudo-apology for wrong doing:

    – The BBC, after allowing fraudulent phone billing of many of their audiences who took part in phone-in programmes, said, in the words of one presenter, “We’re sorry – we made a mistake”.

    – MPs who, perhaps fraudulently, perhaps not, claimed inappropriate expenses, said, “I’m sorry – I made a mistake” or “I was wrongly advised”.

    – After WW2, the losing side most frequently claimed to have been “obeying orders”.

    Hannah Arendt, philosopher, summed up this mental and moral laziness the following way:
    “All that it takes for evil to prosper is for good men [& women] to do nothing”.

    She rightly points out that wrong-doing, however trivial, is never just “a mistake”, and that we can never blame others/orders/Commons committees for our actions, when some thought on our part could have prevented the action. In Scotland we call this the “it wisnae me” culture.

    Let’s remove this fraudulent euphemism for wrongdoing, a “mistake”, from our culture and its politics.

  147. bridget dwyer says:

    A few thoughts to consider in order to address the problem of the conduct of our elected politicians:

    1. When elections are set up wouldn’t it be nice to work it like an Multiple Choice Question – so that the disaffected voters – instead of not turning up because there is little to choose between cadidates – could in fact go to register a negative vote – i.e. specify who they definitely did not want in. This would give an impetus to many jaded voters and perhaps reflect a little better what is felt by the populus?

    2. Many of us in various emplyment need to undergo regular appraisal – to assess how hard we have worked to achieve our goals. This is very reasonable (if objective) – and so MPs should be appraised – perhaps with a jury system? thereby ensuring anonymity and fairness

    3. The removal of expenses and replacing them with shared halls of residence and a free canteen and taxi trips restricted to government business could remove the temptation of excessive claims and sounds like a good deal for the taxpayer.

  148. Neil MacGillivray says:

    If the Speaker were to resign would this precipitate a bye election in his constituency? If so Labour would certainly lose this Glasgow seat to the SNP – is anyone surprised that Gordon Brown is backing Speaker Martin?

  149. DONALD ANDREWS says:

    I would like to know what planet you, the rest of the media, and Parliament think you are on.
    Do you imagine for one moment anything will be done to scrutinize the allowance claims that have been made by the Sinn Fein MP’s , for there £500,000 pound claims, when not one of them have attended Parliament for ONE HOUR, since elected. Do you think we the public are going to tolerate, a bunch of so called Independent bodies, that will be appointed by these same Parliamentarians, that are the root cause of the problems that they have created. If they are looking for a real Independent body pick twenty random people from the working classes. They will sort out the till dippers. Anything goes for Gordon Brown, Nick Clegg & David Cameron, Pay it back and all will be forgiven. NOT BY ME. D Andrews.

  150. Frank Wooldridge says:

    All the MPs caught out by events of their expenses are Standing Down at the next general election,but in doing so will collect over £100,000 for readjustment into (the real world) surely this cannot be allowed and should be Stopped

Comments are closed.