Brown proposes new punishments for those who break expenses regulations

The Prime Minister, in his expected Parliamentary update this lunchtime, has said that there is an "urgent imperative" to bring an end to MP's expenses abuse and that there must be stricter punishments for those who break the rules.

Commenting on
possible changes to the current political system, he said that the Government has "no more pressing task for this Parliament than to respond to this public demand" if Parliament's reputation amongst voters - which is in a worse state than it has been for a very great deal of time, if not at its lowest ever - is to be repaired. He also repeated his earlier statements that all MP's expenses, including those made in the past, should be published online where they can be read by the public and that they should be investigated by an independent regulatory body.

The last person to be expelled from the Commons was
Peter Baker, Conservative MP for South Norfolk, after he was found guilty of forgery charges and there have been just two other instances in the last century - one in 1947 and one in 1922. Sanctions available as punishment for MPs who have been caught in serious breaches of the rules have not been updated, making them ineffective in today's Parliament - a fact recognised by Mr. Brown in his speech.

This can be viewed as either a
genuine and sincere attempt by the PM to make changes for the better and put into place a greater transparency which will ensure that in the future corruption and dishonesty will be more difficult to get away with for any MP. On the other hand, it can also be seen as yet another of Brown's attempts to convince the electorate, who delivered an unmistakable message to the Government in the form of last week's election results, that his party is still worthy of our cross on the ballot paper.

Only a total fascist would attempt to deny a man his Hobnobs (so keep a careful eye on yours, citizens of North West England and Yorkshire and The Humber)...but why do we have to pay for Huhne's?

The only way he can persuade us that he really means to improve the present system - which is open to widescale abuse, as we have seen - is by not only bringing in tougher punishments but also by changing the rules on what MPs can claim for. Many of the MPs caught up in the recent expenses scandal, no matter how greedy they may appear to those of us who are expected to pay our own way, did not break the rules and as such cannot be called to book. If we are to have any respect for them, they must not be allowed to claim for luxury items such as Shahid Malik's £730 massage chair or multi-millionaire Chris Huhne's choccy biccies when the rest of us have to buy our own.

Allow them sufficient to cover the cost of a small, basic flat - in fact, make it a bedsit, preferably - in London if they live a
certain distance from the Commons; and while we're at it the necessary distance needs to be looked at: 70 or more miles, maybe, not when they live 30 minutes away like Ann and Alan Keen, because there's plenty of us who commute further than that every day and if we need to stay in London overnight (which, incidentally, MPs are rarely required to do now that evening sittings are extremely uncommon) we have to pay for a hotel room.

Allow them a bit more to cover the costs of
stationery and similar items, since no commercial company requires its employees to pay for that sort of thing (unlike schools) and...well, anything else that a reasonable claim can be made for. But nothing else. MPs are paid salaries vastly greater than those that most of us have to get by on, so why should we pay for their luxuries?

No comments:

Post a Comment