Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Sunday, 10 May 2009

MPs should be subject to the same rules as the rest of us

There is an excellent comment in the thread attached to this Telegraph Matthew D'Ancona comment piece online today from "Mark" at 6:59am (no, it's not me!):

MP's are now in the process of arguing ad infinitum about how to reform their expenses. And has been said numerous times, they are missing the point. 

There is a very simple way to reform MP's expenses and allowances. It is to put them on the same footing as everyone else in the country. HMRC have reams of guidelines as to what is allowable regarding allowances and rates such as pence per mile. Indeed, such things as travelling to ones habitual place of work are not claimable as they are assumed to be part of the compensation one receives in salary. Any expense claim that I submit will be rejected by my company unless it falls within the HMRC rules. Why should these people be any different ? 

If MP's are subjected to the same rules as the rest of us and scrutinised by HMRC inspectors, then they would pay a lot more attention to the legislation that they pass.

He is spot on here. If MPs were subject to their own rules and pettifogging laws, then those laws would be more likely to be reasonable. I run my own business and I know ho much bureaucracy there is associated with taxes and also for personal tax returns. For MPs to be excluded (and as Tim Worstall points out here they are specifically excluded from some of the HMRC requirements on expenses through legislation) is completely unjustifiable.

They clearly see themselves as an elite above everybody else and who need to be treated as a special case. This was typified a few weeks back by Eric Pickles car crash moment on BBC's Question Time.

This cannot be allowed to continue.

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