UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

MPs’ expenses: rubbing it in?

October 13, 2009

OUKTP-UK-BRITAIN-CLEMENTFury, resentment and a general feeling of being hard done-by is reported to be the prevailing mood amongst MPs as they reconvene after the Summer break to find brown envelopes of an unwelcome sort waiting for them.

These are the already infamous “Legg letters,” the latest symbol along with duck houses, moats and mole-catchers of the expenses scandal which did so much damage to all parties earlier this year.

Written as a result of the inquiry headed by former civil servant Sir Thomas Legg, they assess the expenses claimed by each MP between 2004 and 2008 and, where anomalies have been found, they either demand repayment or clarification.

Gordon Brown is to pay back 12,415 pounds, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg 910 pounds and SNP leader Alex Salmond 700 pounds. David Cameron has been asked to provide more details about his mortgage repayments.

But three things have particularly annoyed backbenchers.

The first is that Legg has imposed  retrospective limits on various categories of expenses that the MPs themselves obviously cannot have known about at the time. He has said the maximum allowable for cleaning for example is 2,000 pounds and that for gardening 1,000 pounds, according to newspaper reports.

The second is the perception at Westminster that those MPs who made the really big claims, the ones on mortgage payments, are getting away with it. Saying “sorry” seems to be enough, as in the case of former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

And the third is that some MPs feel they have been unfairly singled out for reprisal by party leaders eager to be seen to be taking action.

Do you think they have a point? Is it time to stop harassing MPs and get on with government?

Comments

A much sought after position in any company should be thanks enough for years of dedication. Even with the 50% top end of tax these salaries are obscene and furthermore unnecessary to support life. £12,000 is a point of contortion that must only be seen as a well thought out piece of propganda to create further debate amongst the public, to by time in the wake of an over-bearing deficit. Money is a man-made creation, we should be addressing the way we can evolve to create equality amongst person-kind and not issuing a licence for further, draining political debates.

Posted by Thomas Webb | Report as abusive
 

Empowerment of people is what we require, not the shortfallings of people with far to much money to know what to do. Concentrate on the people.

Posted by Thomas Webb | Report as abusive
 

The way this has been handled leaves a lot to be desired and seems to cause more confusion than it solves. The focus should have been (a) on identifying wrongdoing under the rules as they stood (claims for mortgages that had already been paid off and that sort of thing), and (b) on rewriting the rules now to satisfy the general public’s perception of what is acceptable. If individual MPs felt with hindsight that regardless of the state of the old rules, they should in all conscience pay money back, all well and good, but this blanket retrospective approach is probably unlawful and almost certainly unenforceable, and I will be rather surprised if a group of MPs don’t get together and challenge it in the courts.

Posted by Matthew | Report as abusive
 

The comments I have just read are obviously by MP’s with no sense of shame.

Posted by god | Report as abusive
 

All those MPs who don’t comply with what the leaders say and pay back the money they have stolen should rightfull go, let the people deal with the rest at voting time, and by the way,do not reward those who do go with a nice fat juicy pension that many us dream about. \People who commit fraud usuall end up in jail, dont they?

Posted by les | Report as abusive
 

MPs morality should be untouchable. If they can’t be trusted to be honorable with what they claim from the state surely we can no longer trust them to vote on issues far more important. We all know in he real world these expenses would not have been cleared by the accounts department let alone have been paid. They are proved time and time again to be liars and now thieves if we as voters allow them to get away with it we are not using our votes correctly. Please all be aware this isn’t a recent thing they have been doing it for centuries they don’t even think its wrong so they will not change.

Posted by Rob - Bedfordshire | Report as abusive
 

Will Blair be asked to return his property portfolio and gains from such, I don;t think so ! It is probably ‘in the wife’s name’!

 

I think you’ll find its sacreligious to believe you are God.

Posted by Thomas Webb | Report as abusive
 

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
  •