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Expenses cloud hangs over Westminster [Apr. 21st, 2009|10:21 am]
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Gloom on the Labour benches as MPs troop back (slowly) from their two-week Easter break. What are they gloomy about after spending time in their constituencies, or at least thinking about their re-election prospects on the beaches? No, not the Damian McBride email affair. Or even the recession.

Although the "smeargate" scandal dominates the chatter in the Westminster village I inhabit, the voters seem to think that all parties are as bad as each other. The Labour MPs' vibes are borne out by am ICM poll in today's Guardian, which shows Labour unchanged on 30 per cent and the Tories down two points on 40 per cent.

Labour backbenchers tell me what is really hurting them in their own backyard is the endless stream of stories about MPs' expenses. They are right to be worried: so far, we have only had the warm-up act. The MPs are fretting about the 700,000 pages of expenses (including Jacqui Smith-style receipts) that are to be published in July. With good reason, I'm sure.

UPDATE
That's what you call a topical post. Within two minutes, Gordon Brown has announced his own crackdown on MPs' expenses, without waiting for an independent review by the Committee on Standards in Public Life due by the end of the year. The Commons will now vote next week on Brown's package: the controversial "second homes" payments would be replaced by a flat rate daily allowance based on attendance but could not be claimed by London MPs or ministers with "grace and favour homes"; MPs to disclose more about their outside jobs (including earnings) and MPs' staff to be employed centrally by the Commons rather than MPs.

Clearly the aim is to limit the damage of those 700,000 pages of expenses I was banging on about. Then the Government could say that was all in the past, that the stables have already been swept clean. Clever, worth a try, but I'm not sure it will convince too many voters.

In video: Brown explains proposals to overhaul expenses

linkReply

Comments:
From: popskihaynes
2009-04-21 01:49 pm (UTC)

(Link)

The trouble as in everything this man has done in Government is the "soundbite" and "being seen to do something" is far more important than any substance to his proposals. The reality is that our MPs need to be approached from the other end of the telescope - not the value of individual packages such as second homes allowances but their GROSS COST to the taxpayer.

The reason that Parliament is in this mess is simply because no Government of any colour, has had the guts to sort out their pay properly, instead going for a quick fix on this allowance of that so Brown is repeating this mistake.

We need a proper assessment of their costs, salary, expenses, pensions and so on, from that we may well end up with an average figure of say £300,000 pa which we will pay them but in return we want them to make some sacrifices too.

Reduction in numbers by the Gerneral Election after next to 500 maximum. The immediate abolition of their current pension scheme and its replacement with a "money purchase" arrangement. In other words, we don't mind paying towards their pension whilst in our employ (UK Taxpayers), but when they leave, they take their swag with them and that is it.

Then finally, as these Turkeys did vote for Christmas by passing the Lisbon Treaty and Brussels now supplies 80% of all Laws, MPs will have to decide whether their income is reduced to 20% of the maximum or, their numbers reduced to 130 which is roughly 20% of the current membership of the House.