Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Sunday, 5 April 2009

If I hear "It was within the rules" one more time...

If I hear the phrase "It was within the rules" one more time I may have to damage something. Hard. The continuing revelations about MPs allowances and expenses has now made me understand what Mr Eugenides means when he says he is "trying to hold back the rage".

The latest senior MP to have been caught enriching himself at the taxpayer's expense is Geoff "Buff" Hoon. Predictably his defence is that what he did was within the rules.

When will these people understand that we have now reached the point where the rules are so widely despised that use of this phrase is tantamount to sticking two fingers up to the rest of us? Any rules that allow public servants to make tens of thousands of pounds of captial gains profit from public money are rotten.

To Eric Pickles credit, he has now recognised that his pathetic attempt to justify MPs second homes was wrong and he has now changed his view.

Just to clarify my view on this, WE DO NOT NEED YET MORE INQURIES. What we need is for the rules to be changed right now to stop politicians from shafting the tax payer. Here are a few suggestions to go into the pot (I have mentioned some of these previously):

1) MPs researchers and assistants should be paid for directly by the state. There should be monitoring of this to be sure that this is done fairly (e.g. MPs with a particularly "busy" constituency may need more help than some others). The jobs should be given to the best candidate in an open process, not necessarily given to wives, children, friends etc. unless they happen to be the best qualified.

2) The state could purchase (or build, or adapt one or more of its existing buildings) into a large accomodation block for MPs. They would be able to use their flat within this to live in when they needed to be in London and it could operate like a military baracks or halls of residence whereby meals etc. were provided, thus allowing them to concentrate on the busy job in hand that they have. The flats would be furnished to a reasonable standard already. There would be no need to provide money to them for accomodation and they would not realise any capital gains in the end as the property would revert to the state. I understand there are practical problems with this but with the political will they could be overcome. I see that Irfan Ahmed is also floating this idea and there is a No 10 petition for it.

3) MPs would still be given expenses for things like travel to and from their constituency etc. but all receipts will need to be kept and they would need to put in a expense claim which if necessary may require justifcation like us mere mortals have to.

4) If my suggestion 2 is not followed, and property can still be claimed on, then any captial gains that acrue on property that has claims made by politicians as part of their allowances must be repaid to the exchequer on sale of the property.

5) No pay rises for MPs to compensate for any reduction or modification to the allowances regime. If MPs are worried that there is public disquiet at the moment, just let them try this. Then they will find out the true meaning of the word disquiet.

1 comment:

Richard T said...

But Mr Pickles has neither confirmed he'll cease to claim not to pay anything back has he? Cheap repentance I think.