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Forget dog-food, it's moat maintenance we really need to halt

November 24, 2016 22:51

My colleague Jenni Frazer has already touched on the subject of MPs expenses in her blog (www.thejc.com/blogpost/a-littlejohn), and while I am equally amused by the female MP who claimed £4.47 for dog food, that particular member's misuse of the system pales so far into insignificance compared to that of the swimming pool-owning class of Tory MPs, that I actually feel pity for her.


That her name could be traduced (by the Daily Telegraph) for claiming less than a fiver to feed her mutt, seems positively spiteful compared with the abject greed revealed by the MPs who claimed thousands for such "essentials" as swimming pool maintenance, gardening (one Tory's £5,650 over nine months for the maintenance of his patch), stamp duty, manure for perfecting a lawn, a helipad and even Douglas Hogg's moat clearance.


If there really is a will among party leaders to clean up this appalling misuse of taxpayers money - as both David Cameron and Gordon Brown have claimed - it seems that someone needs to work out a formula that is as close to fair, equable and abuse-proof as it is possible to be. And that means taking away the ability of MPs to submit claims for pretty much anything they fancy (dog-food, gardening, helipads, moats), and their ability to choose any kind of home (or homes) they feel appropriate. There are, after all, only so many permutations of family homes and constituency locations and by working out what they are, specific sums - with London weightings - could be applied to homes, travel and very tightly scrutinised living expenses.


Basically, you are either an MP with your family home in London and a regional constituency (you'd get specified, limited travelling expenses to visit your constituency and a sum, worked out by checking up-my-street.com, for a home there - but something modest, no swimming pools or helipads, except at your own expense. And if the place needs major repair or refurbishment, MPs need to take that into consideration when deciding what they can afford, as the rest of us have to do when we are buying a home. When it comes to visiting the Commons, if your family home is within a specified distance of Westminster, you don't get the option of a "second" London home, but a specified allowance for travelling to and from Westminster at unsocial hours. If home is further away, you get the same deal as a regional MP who needs a second home - again limited size, specified value - or additional travelling expenses). Or, alternatively, you are an MP with a London constituency and a London home (specified and limited allowance to visit the constituency - always assuming you don't live in the constituency - and the same deal vis a vis getting to and from Westminster).

If you are an MP with a regional home and a regional constituency, you can buy a second home in London in order to spend time at the Commons. But you don't get to purchase a four-bed town house in Knightsbridge or Chiswick at taxpayers' expense, you make do with a one-bed or studio flat, unless you wish to up-grade at your own expense.


That should wrap them up in so many rules and calculations, that they will have no time left to pass any bills. Which should make life for the rest of us so much calmer and more restful.

November 24, 2016 22:51

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