Well, we’re into the 14th day of the MPs Expenses Storm and I can’t really let it go any longer without comment. Now, because its a Newspaper, I take everything coming from the Daily Telegraph with a pinch of salt, but its certainly obvious that something went wrong somewhere along the line. As far as I can tell, the Houses of Parliament expenses system have had somewhat ‘loose’ standards applied to it, which seems to have lead to some MP’s bending the system pretty much to breaking point. Only now, the white wash has been removed to reveal that the supporting structure is pretty damaged and needs to be replaced.
All businesses I’ve ever worked for or heard about require full and detailed claim forms itemising every expense and requiring a justification for that. Claims for goods and services require supporting VAT receipts as well, in order to satisfy good financial practices, the auditors and the tax man. But it seems that the HoP expenses committee allow a certain amount of ‘undocumented’ claims, whereby miscellaneous expenses are allowed under general categories, for example ‘Office Costs’ and ‘Staying away from Home’ allowance.
Whilst I don’t doubt that all of our representatives have stayed pretty well within the ‘rules’ for the claims, the issue is that some of them have perhaps lost site of the ‘spirit’ of the rules. The whole ‘duck pond’ fiasco illustrates this perfectly. Sure, it was costs incurred running a second home, BUT, you don’t need a duck pond in order to conduct ministerial business. I think some of them may have forgotten what they became an MP for – not for the fiscal rewards, but to serve their community and country. Or have I got that wrong?
I don’t understand why the HoP can’t build a big hotel for all the MP’s to shack up in when they’re in London – kind of like students ‘Halls of Residence’, but perhaps a little plusher. Granted, it will be a big initial outlay for the taxpayer, but then ongoing costs should be negligible. They shouldn’t need much more – after all, they should be in London to conduct parliamentary business, not be on jolly’s, and they should return to their constituency to serve their local community whenever they’re not in the Capital on business.
That’s not to say MP’s are paid amazingly well – I personally don’t think £63k is THAT much compared to other jobs around the country. Yes, its more than a lot of us are on, but its not off in the realms of fantasy. Even the Prime-Minister, by the time the bonuses e.t.c. are tacked on is only around £200,000 – much less than many FTSE-250 company directors I know of, and he’s in charge of the country. It really is the frivolous extra’s that get the general populous excited.
Hopefully though once the storm does eventually settle, it will lead to us, the taxpayer getting a better deal with fair, open and responsible pay for MP’s to help them step up to serve us to get the best for the country.
I think there is light at the end of the tunnel in this – I just hope the bulb doesn’t go, as they won’t be able to get an electrical engineer in to replace it.