Tuesday, 13 October 2009
WHEN WILL MPs ADMIT THEY HAVE FLEECED THE PUBLIC?
The issues over MPs expenses exposed by the Daily Telegraph earlier this year are unlikely to die down following the independent inquiry by Sir Thomas Legg. It appears public confidence in those charged with the affairs of running our country will continue to diminish because many Members of Parliament, especially those within the Government, still refuse to admit the errors of their ways. It looks likely that a large number of MPs will either resign or be forced to stand down by their constituents at the next election.
The fact that PM Gordon Brown has been asked to repay £12,415 comprised of more than £10,000 in cleaning costs and £2,000 in other claims is a complete travesty and will prove to emphasise how out of touch he is with the populace. It is unacceptable that Brown can claim more for cleaning than some people earn in a year. MPs continue to argue that what they have done was within the rules – rules that they made themselves, but this cannot be taken as a reason for fleecing the public. They believe that they are being tried retrospectively and many refuse to accept that they should be called to account. More than 500 MPs have been called to account to justify their claims. Those MPs that continue to fight the committee’s findings will surely only succeed in digging their own political graves.
The independent inquiry does appear to have reached some pretty inconsistent findings. Former Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, has got off lightly and has not been expected to pay back the £116,000 claim she made for expenses on her family home in Redditch despite conflicting evidence that she spent most of her time at her ‘main home’ in London; a small room at her sister’s house. It is ironic that it is the police who have contradicted Ms Smith’s claim that she spent the majority of her time in London.
From the evidence gathered meticulously by the Daily Telegraph team, it is also shameful that to date there has been no confirmation from the police or the DPP of any impending prosecutions for fraud but public pressure could eventually force them to act.
It will be interesting to see how the expenses issues fans out in the next few weeks.
Check out the your MP's expenses and how Parliament tried to hide the true facts on the The Daily Telegraph web site.
Highly recommended: A thoroughly interesting and informative read 'No Expenses Spared' - The inside story of the scoop which changed the face of British politics - by the team that broke it by Robert Winnett & Gordon Rayner (Bantam Press)