Expenses row grows

It is almost three weeks since we commented on the MPs expenses row. Since then, the on-going revelations have been quite shocking. Yet, here is evidence that, ten years ago, Westminster decision makers knew that the system needed changed.

When the Scottish Parliament was “reconvened” (as Winnie Ewing put it) it was set up with a different expenses system to Westminster, because – it was said at the time – there was a need for more transparency.

UK Parliament

Confidence in the UK Parliament has hit rock bottom.

That suggests the decision makers in Westminster knew their system had flaws. So, why on earth were changes not made then? Was the political will strangely lacking to change a system that suited those in power?

As we have witnessed a series of quite shocking revelations, confidence in our politicians and our political systems – hardly strong before – is now at rock bottom. With a general election in the not too distant future, it remains to be seen whether unprecedented protest voting or mass abstention will be the outcome.

How out of tune could our MPs be?

How could they think that it was OK to have us pay for improving and repairing their homes?

How could they think it was OK for us to pay for furnishing, decorating, electricians and plumbers... let alone moat repairs, duck houses and some of the more extraordinary claims?

How could they think it was then OK to add insult to injury and have us pay for tax advisers?

Finally, adding insult to injury, how could they believe that it was OK to avoid the capital gains tax the rest of us would have to pay when it came to time to sell?

I haven’t heard anyone argue that those MPs who live a long way from Westminster should not get reasonable support for living expenses and travel. But, such a system needs to be regulated, with a genuine paper trail of receipts and (since it is our money they are spending) it must be completely transparency.

Only when we are armed with such information can we can decide at the ballot box whether our MP is good value for money or taking the mickey.
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