Saturday, October 31, 2009
MPs' Pay and Expenses- Being Fair
1. Claiming for Mortgages already paid up. One or two MPs did this(Elliot Morley?) and must have known they were cheating the system.
2. Flipping. Altering the choice of one's 'main residence' to maximise expenses in order to sell on the property falls into the same category. MPs are not voted into Parliament and paid salaries by voters to become property entrepreneurs. Such MPs must have known what they were doing and it was right they were exposed and shamed.
However it seems the public as a whole have extended the obloquy deserved by a few to include all MPs willy nilly. A number of points need to be made in their defense.
1. Many MPs did not exploit their expenses and yet have had to accept the pariah status earned by the recalcitrant minority of their colleagues.
2. MPs arriving in the Comons entered a relatively generous expenses regime. Most people, whatever they might say, when they can claim epenses, do so up to the limit. I've worked in the public sector all my life and know this to be the case. Private sector claiming is even worse. I remember, in the seventies, some television employees asking for restaurant receipts from friends do they could submit them to employers and fraudulently cash them in as expenses.
Journalists are among the worst for doing this and it's ironic they should have lead the charge against MPs. Some tell of when they first joined the payroll of being told by older hands not to underclaim as this would show the rest of them in a bad light.
3. I recall Alan Duncan on that infamous Have Got News For You clip, smugly boasting about how well he was doing out of his allowances. This sort of thing must have done the rounds of the Tea Room and encouraged similar claiming styles. Moreover, MPs' wives, usually running the home, must have disseminated a fair bit about what you could claim in coffee mornings and the like. Once one heard a claim for something was possible and legitimate, they would be likely to urge hubby to do the same.
4. At £64K p. a. MPs' salaries seem pretty good to an impecunious semi-retired academic, but I realise this is relatively low compared with the amounts available in the private sector- law, the media, accountancy- or indeed, many parts of the public sector. To attract the best talent from which our ministers are to be drawn, a decent salary has to be offered. MPs, after all, have to feed their families and live in reasonable comfort. Expenses were used by the whips for a long time as a 'compensation' or 'top-up' to this relatively low headline salary. If it was poffered on this basis, then we should not be too surprised if MPs filled 'their boots'acordingly.
I was amused, on the last point, to read Simon Hoggart this morning who points out the delicious irony inherent in such a whips' tactic:
It's pleasingly ironic that MPs were encouraged to exaggerate their expenses to replace a pay rise which would have attracted public opprobrium. Now they are suffering vastly more contempt than they would from a salary increase which would have been forgotten in a week.
Watching MCNulty apologies in the House was something which made me sick, he should have been sacked and the file sent to the police. do not tell me he did not know what he was doing. Purnell flipping houses and other MP's who have not been so bad, are sacked and told to step down while the real culprits get away with murder because they could damage that moron Brown.
#has these expenses damaged labour well look at my MP she lives ten miles from another labour MP, he had expense of £5,000 in total for a year, she hit £35,000, she lives in London he lives in Wales. She has apologies for using expensive restaurants because she had a food bill of £900 a month and stated she was not a good cook funny ha ha ha.
My wife and I live on a months food bill of £85.
I'm angry that good MP's are told to step down while minister or ex minister are told to pay back and apologies.
thank god I've given up voting because I might well vote BNP just to spite everyone.
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