BBC BLOGS - Have Your Say
« Previous | Main | Next »

How important is transparency for politicians?

09:19 UK time, Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Just weeks before the general election, there are yet more claims about the behaviour of MPs, this time in relation to their activities outside Parliament and lobbying.

A BBC investigation has found that more than 20 MPs broke rules on declaring hospitality in questions or debates after accepting free overseas trips from foreign governments.

Meanwhile, three former ministers have been suspended from the Labour party over allegations that they were willing to lobby for cash.

Stephen Byers, Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon have denied wrongdoing after they were secretly filmed as part of an investigation by the Sunday Times and the Channel 4's Dispatches.

But should there be tougher limits for lobbying and campaigning in government? And should MPs' activities outside Parliament be more closely regulated? Following last year's expenses scandals, do these latest stories affect your trust in politicians and your view of the forthcoming election campaign?


Page 1 of 12

  • Comment number 1.

    The Law should be changed so that in future no MP is allowed to obtain any sort of financial benefit apart from their MP’s salary – punishable by either 100 years in prison with hard labour, or being whipped through the streets of Westminster like a dog.

  • Comment number 2.

    It seems to me that the whole of Parliament is rotten to the core. Almost everyone seems to out to line their own pockets. We need Cromwell back again to fix the mess. The main problem is our representatives think they are above the law that applies to everyone. That's why the UK is merrily invading overseas lands for no good reason, and its MPs are visting other places in violation of the rule which cover appropriate behaviour. All the while they are fiddling the expenses being charged for their out of control behaviour.

  • Comment number 3.

    On the one hand it's obvious that Parliament needs to be policed by a fully independant regulatory body, with the power to expel miscreants from either house and reclaim mispeny public funds.

    On the other hand,given recent examples, I shudder to think how much public money the government could manage to spend setting up such a body.

  • Comment number 4.

    "How important is transparency for politicians?"
    Is this a trick question?!


    The things I want and EXPECT from the leaders of this (or any) country.

    Without that, all they are asking for is BLIND TRUST which as we can see from the recent fiasco is being CHRONICALLY ABUSED!

  • Comment number 5.

    Just shows MPs are only interested in making as much money as possible. Gone are the days when been a MP was a person who fought for the people and country, today its all about expenses, expenses and handouts. These people go on about benefit cheats and they end up millionaires on the backs of working people.

  • Comment number 6.

    Perhaps the Labour Party should have been keeping an eye on their own instead of trying to 'BLACKEN' Ashcroft. I notice the 'Spin Masters' are very quiet especially Mandy. Adonis declaring he has nothing to apologise for and Broon saying there is no need for an 'INDEPENDENT' enquiry does not convince me. What annoys me the most is the fact this sorry lot think we swallow every lie that comes out of their mouths.

  • Comment number 7.

    Who could possibly trust a politician even before these "new" claims. They are discredited. The British voters have so little to choose from unless people of greater integrity start to go into politics.

  • Comment number 8.

    All 3 main parties are as bad as each other. Hence why I stopped voting for any of the 'big 3' years ago. Things wont change if we the people keep voting these parasites in.

  • Comment number 9.

    I would have thought that being an " Honorable MP " was a full time job when done properly, considering the salary of £ 67,000 p.a plus correct expenses, payoff benefits and pension etc.

    While " Honorable " members continue to deny that they have not broken their rules, then there can no longer be Clear - Credible - Believable Trust in any of them.

    The situation requires them and others to be instantly dismissed with no benefits payable, otherwise they are patently above the Law.

  • Comment number 10.

    It seems we live in a 3 tier democracy.

    If you are a corporation you can access & influence the government at anytime by simply renting your own MP.

    If you are an Sovereign State you can & influence the government at anytime by dishing out a few free holidays to MPs or the Lords.

    If you are a British citizen you can influence government by voting every 4-5 years.

    What's wrong with this picture?

  • Comment number 11.

    its a pure scandal - they all claim they stand for ' the public good ' but as soon as they get in they are just scrambling about seeing what free trips they can get - how much expenses they can rack up.

    The rules are a complete joke and they are not tough enough.

    My brother is a retired Civil servant who has to get permission who he can work with and it all has to be cleared well in advance so if Civil servant's have strict rules why are MP's rules so lax ?

    Its time to get back to the drawing board - all this has to be cleared up before any of us can have confidence to vote again.

  • Comment number 12.

    The government is defunct and we need a good old fashioned revolution!

  • Comment number 13.

    There is a real sense of deja vu regarding the Byers, Hewitt and Hoon affairs; reminding one of the last days of the conservatives and their infamous "cash for questions" debacle. It really is time NewLab closed up shop and let the country get on without their lying, money grubbing behaviour. Of course, the culture of NewLab was set by their previous leader, who thought it was OK to mislead parliament and the nation about WMDs and whose ambition now seems to be to simply make as much money as some of his heroes in the world of celebrities. None of these people seem capable of ever admitting they are wrong: such hubris, vanity and arrogance.
    Unfortunately, the conservatives' track record in such matters is hardly any better. Who really believes the Dave and George are going to make a jot of difference to the mess that this country has got itself into: both economically and socially. Dave is a 'soundbit' man, whilst George seems completely incapable of original ideas.
    The culture of politics in this country has become one of sleeze, dishonesty, self-serving interests - all at the taxpayers expense. No doubt there are some politicians out there who genuinely work hard and have honourable intentions and conduct. Sadly, they are not the ones we hear about on the news.
    Anyone for a Tea Party?

  • Comment number 14.

    Simple it should be a criminal offence to accept payment or payment in kind by any parliamentarian if it is brought to light then it should be policed by those that are not of the same party as that of the miscreant when selected and found to be at fault it should be immediate expulsion from politics for life with no pension or other benefits accrued with a minimum 15 years in a category A prison.

  • Comment number 15.

    Actually transparency is anathema to politicians. It is crucial for the electorate. But, it ain't gonna happen any time soon.

  • Comment number 16.

    Is it any wonder that so many young people are completely turned off by politicians? They see right through all the cant and hypocrisy and don't want to become involved which is a vicious circle because it allows the crooks almost a free rein until the press catch them out and then they have the gall to say "it's within the rules"! This is a wake up call for all British citizens to take much more notice of who they elect to represent them in the House of Commons.

  • Comment number 17.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 18.

    Our current administration is more than keen on putting the rest of us under surveillance at every opportunity, intruding into every corner of our lives, but expect 'self-regulation' to apply to them. Breathtaking...

  • Comment number 19.

    MPs clearly have too much time on their hands if they can fit in all these consultancies, extra jobs, foreign jaunts, hospitality events etc. I think every constituency needs to double in size and the number of mps be cut by half. This should keep them all busy doing the jobs we pay them to do. And there should be no increase in salary either.
    Apparently Margaret Moran hasn't worked since May 2009 - neither voting in the house nor seeing her constituents. Is she going to forego her salary and expenses for the last year and have her golden goodbye and pension reduced by a year's contribution? No I thought not!
    Also the House of Lords should be reduced to a maximum of 200 peers at any given time and no new peer is created until there is a vacancy. 700 + peers on the gravy train is ridiculous.

  • Comment number 20.

    Any amount of regulation will not curb the moral inadequacies of these people. It is quite clear that there is a prevalent culture of deceit, selfishness and corruption in both Houses. Whether it be expenses, perks,influence for hire or gaining a pay rise at the same time as imposing a public sector pay freeze, most M.P.s are in it for what they can screw out of the country. Such is the depth of their depravity that they will always find a way to pursue their ill-gotten rewards. I value my vote but I will spoil the paper to signify my complete lack of faith in the motivation of these self-seeking rebrobates.

  • Comment number 21.

    Number 8, "Creamfresh" called these people parasites. That is exactly what they are and it is difficult to know just who would or would not be a parasite. One of the current Tory front bench allegedly took a bribe to ask a question in the House but he confessed and has been 'rehabilitated'.

    Even if Byers claims he was 'fantasising', what on earth was he doing as a Minister of the Crown? What these people show is that they have lost all semblance of morality. How can they justify being paid in two days what a pensioner is paid in a year?

    Short of a Guy Fawkes or Cromwell I just don't see an end to this self-serving political class bunch of rats. Whatever they do, and the latest 'wheeze' is self-referral to the Parliamentary Watchdog, more will be found like the BBC's uncovering of paid foreign travel.

    I'm afraid what we need is a complete clear-out but the chances of that are nil. Sadly, there are probably some genuine people amongst them but they are all tainted by the smell of rotten apples.

  • Comment number 22.

    "Tougher limits", "Regulation". What is needed are prosecutions, imprisonments, disgrace and exclusion from all and any public life. Jeffry Archer, Jonathan Aitken went to prison and now appear on our TV's spouting ther opinions. Baroness Uddin will face no prosecution, and most of the expenses cheats got off scott free, or repaid with no questions asked. Those "retiring" at the next election will go with fat pay offs. Now this. And throughout it all, they still claim no rules are broken, that most MP's are honourable, that the system is being fixed. Well, this is no system I support. And the real shame is - there is NOTHING I can do about it.

  • Comment number 23.

    Oh my - Transparency - most of our MPs are positively invisible unless you got £5k to spend!

    We all Shrugged!

    Viva La Revolution!

  • Comment number 24.

    It's interesting how the BBC have reported this compared to other news organisations. I can understand the use of the BBC's spoiler piece of news to reduce Channel Four's impact. I wonder how long the BBC were sitting on that bit of news? I bet there's some executive at the Beeb upset that it's had to be used so early. But what I really can't understand is the playing down of the main fact that these three were Labour MPs. Even in this debate's leader that fact is blatantly missing. Yet the first trip MP stated on the BBC news last night was, yes you've guessed it, a Conservative, odd that. Maybe a bit of transparency at the BBC is needed too!

  • Comment number 25.

    Westminster operates like a business;

    Cash for questions,
    Cash for honours,
    Cash for policies.

    EVERYTHING's for sale! Considering all the cash coming into Westminster, it's a wonder that there's a debt problem at all!

    Business should have nothing to do with politics. Separating the two would do wonders for honesty. It's a well known fact that big business is behind many a-government decision. Politicians use their role as a stepping-stone to a lucrative boardroom consultancy at a City bank.

    There is NO INTEGRITY in Westminster.

    Lest we forget, the politicians would still be carrying out nigh-criminal activities were it not for freedom of information requests. They are suddenly sorry and making amends, but people are not stupid, we know that like so many asbo recipients, they are merely "sorry that they got caught". The MPs still haven't had their day in court and they don't live under the same laws as we proles.

  • Comment number 26.

    I think we all know that most MP's are corrupt. They obviously don't think they are,but honestly have you ever seen a poor MP. I know most people think £65k per annum is a good salary, but it isn't enough to keep them in the lifestyles they all seem to live, so they must be getting a lot of money from other sources. We know that some of this was obtained through the discredited expenses system, but they also get paid money from various outside bodies be it companies, unions etc. You would have to be a fool to believe this money isn't being paid to get influence. If you look at Patricia Hewitt, she never came over as a particular brillant politican, but now is on the board of numerous companies, and the most obvious explanation is because of her political contacts.

  • Comment number 27.

    According to Mandelson on Newsnight, Stephen Byers was not telling the truth while being secretly filmed touting for business, and his lobbying-for-cash claims were "rather grubby"

    No amount of new regulation will help if members of this sleaze-ridden labour government cannot be relied upon to act honestly and with integrity.

    The best course of action now would be to call an election.

  • Comment number 28.

    "It always seemed strange to me that the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling are concomitant of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self interest are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first, they love the produce of the second." Steinbeck

    The nonsense that is Parliament must be dealt with quickly. There should be NO second jobs, money on the side, pension from office, expenses, just a tolerable and realistic hourly wage paid on a transparent and honest time sheet with instant removal from office and arrest for any evidential breaches.

    Our representatives must be humble, honest and respectful of their constituents and should be limited to a maximum of ten years office in either Commons or Lords.

  • Comment number 29.

    Transparency is only important to us the voters, it is extremely unimportant to the politicians who would rather conduct all of their money making deals under the radar of the press. The problem now, is how to win back the trust of the voters, as the few who have let the side down have caused the rest to be tainted by their greed.

  • Comment number 30.

    As Labour seem to have been caught with their pants down I await the views of Nick Robinson with interest!

  • Comment number 31.

    There should be total transparency. But this also must cover the extended royal family, and it is long overdue that their excesses and secrecy were higher up the agenda. Not just second homes here, but second and third castles. Not just taxi fares here, but private jet and helicopter trips. Not just close family members on the payroll, but vast entourages of staff and hangers on.
    Instead the government is busy exempting them from Freedom of Information Act requests so that their costs and lobbying activities go underground, and it's all buried in the middle pages.
    There should be complete transparency of income, expenditure, taxes paid, and what involvement they have in the political process. There's a far bigger scandal here than anything the MPs are up to, and its so endemic that it almost escapes notice.

  • Comment number 32.

    Please, please, please assure me that Hewitt, Hoon, Byers and Butterfill will NOT end up in the House of Lords! In fact, just stop creating any new peerages until an election system is set up for the second house.

  • Comment number 33.

    If I am not mistaken, was it not Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon, the ones who attempted a coup against Gordon Brown? I think that there is more in this story than we think. Mandeleson looks like he has engineered some heavy politics here on the descenters and got his revenge. I think that they have been caught out but there may be a sniff of some assistance in acheieving the expose.

  • Comment number 34.

    We need another Cromwell to sort out this corrupt and dishonorable establishment..............

  • Comment number 35.

    For weeks now the BBC has been peddling stories about Ashcroft as much as it can, be it headlines, have your say or political blogs. We have know had several days of Labour bad news stories including the Unite funding Labour issue and buying influence and the failure of the Government to condemn Unite and encourage people back to work. Nothing in the headlines and nothing on the blogs/HYS. We now have the fiddling four, a Labour issue and the BBC have attempted to spin it by issuing a story regarding MP's travel to try and bury the Labour bad news. It really is now very obvious that the BBC is doing it's utmost to support Labour.
    Why isn't the BBC tracking down the PM and asking awkward questions as to why he said yesterday that nothing untoward had taken place yet now we see ex ministers suspended? Why because the BBC doesn't ask awkward questions of Labour and because as is usual with the PM when the muck is flying he hides away.
    Please BBC, stop pandering to Labour. We remember the Jane Garvey quote of 'The corridors of Broadcasting House being littered with champagne bottles' after the 1997 election. Please be neutral and please stop broadcasting the latest briefing notes from No.10 and Peter Mandleson as if they were researched facts.

  • Comment number 36.

    At 09:39am on 23 Mar 2010, regalPHOENIX wrote:
    "Perhaps the Labour Party should have been keeping an eye on their own instead of trying to 'BLACKEN' Ashcroft. I notice the 'Spin Masters' are very quiet especially Mandy. Adonis declaring he has nothing to apologise for..."

    You haven't been paying attention then. Mandy's video interview on the subject can be seen on this very site, and Adonis actually doesn't have anything to apologise for - because he's not one of those being accused.
    No-one had to "try to blacken" Ashcroft - his wrongdoing has been clearly exposed.
    Seems transparency is only of any use if people pay attention to what is revealed by it, rather than make up the "facts" to suit themselves.

  • Comment number 37.


  • Comment number 38.

    I would like to see even more transparency, can there ever be enough. What I would like to know is how transparent are UK politics compared to say France or the USA, it seems to me the UK is already the most transparent government around, and with all this transparency these things are still happening. Is this just the last dregs of corruption seeping out, or is this transparency just another political lie.

  • Comment number 39.

    I notice that out of the last 10 Blog Entries for Nick Robinson, The BBC's Political Editor, 3 of the entries have been about Lord Ashcroft's non domicile status yet, since the story of 3 former Labour MPs touting themselves for income from fees-for-lobbying was broken, there has not been any sight nor sound from Nick to comment about Stephen Byers, Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon - all senior figures within the Labour Party?

    One wonders if there isn't some kind of bias from the BBC in that it is quick to allow public comment and feedback about the Tories for any of their misdemeanours or misconduct but it has taken until the Tuesday of this week for HYS to make room for discussion about this deeply troubling slease within the UK Parliament and Nick Robinson has had little to say about this sleasy behaviour which is yet more grist to the mill of how unsavoury our UK politicians have become.

  • Comment number 40.

    Abusing your position for gains, financial or otherwise, is despicable. They were elected by their constituency, for their constituency. Not for their own personal benefit. The fact they deny any wrongdoing shows how ignorant these people are.

    Why can't society have the opportunity to influence, or at least have a say in things. Or do we we need to wear a suit, have shiny white teeth and lie when our lips move?

  • Comment number 41.

    Peter Mandelson has called the behaviour "altogether rather grubby". This rather seems to be a case of the pot calling the kettle black given his own past record. Transparency - yes and quickly. Trust in politicians will take a lot longer and has to be earned.

  • Comment number 42.

    There is a hypocrisy at work here. If you subject ANY organisation in this country to the level of scrutiny now being given to Parliament and government you will find similar stuff - or much worse.

    I have worked for a number of large multi-nationals and you soon realise that just about everyone in those organisations is inflating their expenses at the very least, and quite a few are working other elaborate and often highly lucrative fiddles.

    I've known of journalists who submit their expense claims with comments like "Hans Christian Anderson would be proud". Our society is, in a word, corrupt. For most of us, our corruption is fairly minor and we tend to see it as a playful battle of wits with authority; seeing how much we can get away with, stretching rather than breaking the rules.

    But, essentially, we expect to be punished if we get caught - there is little or no expectation that our misdemeanours will be ignored or overlooked if we're found out. THAT is what differentiates us from a systemically corrupt country. In a wholly corrupt country, people don't expect the state to punish them if the back hander is good enough. We need to hang on to that differentiation for dear life, and that is why I think that it is so necessary to publicly and decisively punish corruption in public life when it comes to light - even though it leaves such a nasty taste of hypocrisy.

    Seen logically, the punishments for officials found guilty of corruption are perhaps disproportionate. People going in for public service need to realise they need to stay squeaky clean - if they can - or be singled out for cruel and unusual treatment. It not strictly fair, but it's essential for the health and future of UK PLC.

    Alan T

  • Comment number 43.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 44.

    The sad part of this sorry ongoing saga of corruption within Parliament, is the fact that one is not surprised at this latest revelation. What is even worse, is that others seek to play-down the importance and excuse the non-action as an 'administrative oversight'. This just adds insult to injury. Our MP's and Ministers need to take a big dose of 'reality' pills, together with a big helping of humble pie and realise the damage they are doing to this great instituition and country of ours. In the immortal words of Al Murray, shame on you all.

  • Comment number 45.

    All these revelations about MPs, their fiddling etc., begs the question, "who on earth is there to vote for?"
    The outcome of the general election will prove to be very interesting!
    I can see any party (apart from the 3 big ones) having a good time especially if they introduce legistlation which prevents fiddling. They will get my vote!
    Hey ho, I can't wait.

  • Comment number 46.

    MPs clearly cannot be trusted.

    If more regulation of MPs is being considered, I suggest there should be some mechanism for voters to recall an MP and force a by-election if their representative is found to have acted dishonestly.

    This should go beyond the "grubby" cash-for-lobying, but also include breaking a manifesto pledge. If an MP is elected on a manifesto pledge, but then wilfully breaks this promise, that should be regarded as an electoral fraud. Any MP found guilty of this should have to repay their entire salary and expenses, and be barred from holding public office for life.

    This would include any MP (Labour and Lib Dem) who changed their mind about the promised referendum on the EU constitutional treaty.

  • Comment number 47.

    Abiding memories of:

    BYERS - a good week to bury bad news?

    HOON - Defense Minister claiming (on the record) for swimming pool pump room repairs and other blatent, 'illegal' claims on MP allowances 'rules'?

    HEWITT - suicide of mother and disabled child in car fire, after years of abuse by particular neighbours? All this under Hewitt's or associate Labour MP's, watch as victim's MPs?

  • Comment number 48.

    Very interesting that these Blairites have been kicked out of the party so quickly for wrong doing, yet, there is no reason for the Labour Party to hold an inquiry into their actions.

  • Comment number 49.

    My understanding was that being an MP was a full time job, hence the salary of £67,000 plus benefits.

    Based on the figures thrown around on Dispatches last night some MP's had additional earnings of circa £130,000, and charged around £3,000 per day for their services (nice work if you can get it).

    Apply some simple maths 130/3 = 43 days.

    I wish i got 43 days holiday a year or perhaps their not working quite as hard as they'd like us to think.

    I'm also pretty sure that i have a clause in my employment contract that states i may not take on other employment that has any impact on my current position. Perhaps this doesn't apply to MP's.

    Just a thought!

  • Comment number 50.

    We have been here before and it is no surprise to see the risible, self-seeking names involved in this, three politicians as tawdry and glib as this limping country has to proffer to the world as evidence of the moribund state of our democracy. Byers, in particular, epitomises all that is wrong with the system: he should never have been returned to parliament following hopeless spells in high office and that repulsive incident Jo Moore, his secretary, sending the email on the day the twin towers went down. Most of the people in the UK loathe our politicians with a passion they cannot grasp - we need better people in office and better people than Mandehlson to be the arbiters of what is defensible.

  • Comment number 51.

    We delude ourselves about living in democracy. The fact is that, with our present election process, all governments are elected to serve the interest of the powerful minority and as such individual politicians see recieving money from those they helped whilest in office as renumeration. Continuing to get funds from those sources after they leave office is to supliment their pension.


  • Comment number 52.

    The very people that you should be able to trust are the people that you can't. The country is riddled with corruption, MP's, councillors, company bosses and they're the very people that make our laws sit on magistrates benches and committees. A poor person that steals a few bobs worth of groceries to survive is condemned and sent to prison whilst these grossly overpaid MP's etc are fiddling at every opportunity they get. I'm a bit fed up of hearing these people saying 'I've done nothing wrong' of course they've done something wrong, they've used their privileged positions to feather their own nests. We are fast becoming a third world country (brought about by the actions of MP's)and in third world countries the have coupe's that depose wrong doers such as these, and it usually means many of them get bumped off, that sounds like a good solution this problem to me.

  • Comment number 53.

    For to get me to vote we need transparency and accountability. Knowing what is going on and seeing that no one is being charged is just totally unacceptable.

  • Comment number 54.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 55.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 56.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 57.

    What's most disturbing about this and earlier revelations is that politicians seem to think that denial on the one hand, or calling for public enquiries on the other, will sort things out.
    I wonder if the penny will ever drop in what passes for a collective political brain that the universal dishonesty and self-serving objectives of politicians across the board is what increasingly drives the rest of us out of engagement with the political process.
    This situation will only start to be healed when the professional political class across all parties is replaced with a body of people with a genuine desire to serve their country and the wider world, rather than themselves. Until then, the more we're treated to the specatcle of noses in the trough, and more concern being shown about grasping power than doing what's right, the more we'll also see people either refusing to vote or embracing right-wing extremism, and treating established politicians with utter contempt. No surprise to anyone except, apparently, politicians.

  • Comment number 58.

    I'm not necessarily condoning what they've done but I reckon that 95% of people posting on the board would have fiddled their expenses if they were an MP. People seem to think it's a new phenomenon. I think we should delve into Thatcher's expenses, now there would be some fun. Also, expenses fiddling counts for probably less than 0.01% of the public funds wasted on invasion over the past 10 years. If you want to get irate about tax money being wasted, do it about that: You know, something that matters...

  • Comment number 59.

    Transparency in any decent society should be universal. What we have in parliament is a reflection of large parts of modern Britain, PR obsessed, self centred, greedy, evaisive individuals trampling over each other to get ahead. The only significant difference is this bunch are in charge.

  • Comment number 60.

    MP's, from all sides, have forgotten that they represent us, the peoples' of Britain. Too often MP's are only interested in their own personal gain and use their privileges to further their own ambitions and wealth.

    I recently watched a BBC program with Michael Michael Portillo, which hit the nail on the head. People are fed up with these greedy, self centred and arrogant MP's. Things must change and power given back to the people, which is as it should be in any democracy. If not, parties such as the The BNP, The Greens, UKIP, etc as well as Independent candidates will gain seats.

    Power back to the people NOW!

  • Comment number 61.

    Transparency is not enough. The rule should be simple - MPs should never take money or gifts, like free holidays, for lobbying or giving advice. They are already paid do these things, for constituents and causes they believe in.

    To avoid any doubt about what is or is not lobbying or advising, MPs should also give up other paid employment. Being an MP is a full time job, if it is done properly.

    Those who do not like these conditions need not stand for election.

  • Comment number 62.

    Comment No. 4 says it all.

  • Comment number 63.

    The Conservatives lost power because of what was labeled sleaze by Nu Labour.

    Nu Labour has now taken this on to new heights.

    What a pity they appear to have forgotten about their pledge to have a government that is transparent in it's dealings and above reproach.

    I found it quite ironic that Mandelson was so scathing last night on News-night. After all he is a person who has been forced out of office twice and in my opinion should not be allowed to hold public office. Especially one of such importance and one that he is not publicly accountable. After all he has no mandate from the British Public as he is not elected.

  • Comment number 64.

    23. At 09:57am on 23 Mar 2010, The Ghosts of John Galt wrote:
    Oh my - Transparency - most of our MPs are positively invisible unless you got £5k to spend!

    We all Shrugged!

    Viva La Revolution!


    I'm not sure you can make that assumption about all MP's as some do perform a vital job and act in accordance with the rules and regulations and represent local constituents well even those without £5k. I would first check your premises, your view of how all politicians behave then your conclusions.

  • Comment number 65.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 66.

    Ok lets analyse this.

    A whole host of Politicians from Lab to Tory get caught up in this. 3 troublesome Labour politicians (for Brown) ejected from the party. Mr Brown takes swift action. Seems to work very well for Labour in the press and for Mr Brown.

    Tories call for an inquiry. What happens in this enquiry? More Labour politicians work for various companies and guess what Tory politicians OWN these companies. Tories shoot themselves in foot.

    Following Day revelations of travel expenses. Mostly Tories. Over to you Mr Cameron. You going to expel these guys?

    Check mate, Master of the Dark Arts wins, you lose Mr Cameron.

  • Comment number 67.

    For Peter Mandleson to describe the actions of Hoon, Byers and Hewitt as 'grubby', just demonstrates how corrupt the whole parliamentary system is. There can't be many more politicians with a grubbier past than Mandelson, yet here is putting his spin on yet another Westminster debacle.

  • Comment number 68.

    This just shows that the entire shoddy crowd of MPs are NOT TO BE TRUSTED ! They don't put their constituent's interests first - they look after themselves first and foremost.

    They have shown themselves to be selfish, underhand, dishonest, narcissistic and arrogant.

    Kick the lot of them out ! We really do need a 'None of the above' on the ballot slip !

  • Comment number 69.

    On another debate today, about Union power, there is a lot of Conservative praise for an employer, BA, for being tough with it's employees. We are the employers of MP's. Unlike the BA staff, our employees have stolen from us, moonlighted, have conflicts of interest, and have taken us into worldwide disrepute. How tough should we be with our employees? Sack them all on 6 May? Including David "wisteria" Cameron? Somehow, I doubt it.

  • Comment number 70.

    I agree with the idea suggested by Comment 19, where Virtualvalkyrie wrote:
    "Also the House of Lords should be reduced to a maximum of 200 peers at any given time and no new peer is created until there is a vacancy. 700 + peers on the gravy train is ridiculous."
    My only amendment would be that it should be cut to 100. They should be elected by the electorate on a proportional representation vote and they should be on a fixed 5 year cycle. Nobody would be allowed to serve more than two terms.

  • Comment number 71.

    If anyone who wasn't an MP had been caught doing the things that MPs have done, things would have been very different.

    For example, MPs can deliberately over claim their expenses. If they are caught, all they have to do is say "it was a genuine mistake and I paid it back when I realised my mistake", and they have not lost anything. Why should they be able to use that defence when it wouldn't work for anyone else?

    As a little example of what happens to ordinary people, I was about 1 month late paying an instalment of my business rates earlier this year, as a result of a genuine oversight. I was fined £100 in the magistrates court, despite paying the instalment on the same day I received the summons (no reminder received, just a summons). That's what happens for a genuine oversight: if normal people deliberately fiddle their expenses, they would lose their job and possibly face criminal charges.

    I hope we get a completely new bunch of MPs after the election and that they understand what honesty means.

  • Comment number 72.

    No existing politician or political party will unanimously move towards true transparency, honesty and democracy. What is required by us - the electorate - is a new party, whose members are legally-bound by contract to adhere to the kind of behaviour we want and should expect from our politicians; a new party created with no agenda other than to assess, collate and implement the will of the majority of the electorate.

    Let our political masters have their fun for one more term - we shall use the time to organise the true democracy which will take their place. Once that occurs, we will no longer be ruled by ministers, parties and whips who consider themselves above the law and unaccountable to the British people.

  • Comment number 73.

    Regulations erode everybodys freedom.
    Parliament make the rules in favour of themselves so, as in the case of the expenses, ministerial conduct and now the lobbying and undeclared overseas trip scandals it would just be a continuation of government sponsored corruption.
    It would be better to have men of honour and integrity govern us without any forced allegiance to rich doners or trade unions and where Country comes before money and party.
    If there is total transparency and the freedom of the press is maintained(which is the only protection we, as the common people have) natural law will take care of the wrongdoers.

  • Comment number 74.

    I have been a parish councillor for some years, unpaid, unexpensed, and under first hand scrutiny by the community. There is absolute transparency in all that we do; the law requires it regardless of embarrassment.
    These politicians and all the expenses thieves have been exposed for what they are. They tighten the noose of state control on us so we can hardly breathe without getting fined, while they put pretend to public service while filling their pockets. And they always get away with it, from Brown downwards.

  • Comment number 75.

    The rules allow them to act in a way that most of us believe is corrupt. When they break the rules they get tapped on the wrist and are back again forthwith. They should reflect what we expect from our politicians, after all we pay them to do a job and that job requires a certain level of morality and behaviour. I am tired of them all.

  • Comment number 76.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 77.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 78.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 79.

    My problem with all of this is the way that all these dishonourable people claim that they have done nothing wrong. In no other sphere of our economy would employees be able to take such a stand.
    I was a middle ranking Civil Servant for over 46 years and I knew that, if I made a "mistake" over an expenses claim, my feet would not touch the ground on my out through the door - with my Pension lost.
    Similarly, if I had wanted to take up work outside office hours - I never had such free time - I had to apply for permission before I could consider such a move. Any activity which could be seen to be in conflict with my Civil Service post would automatically be refused - and my career woiuld have suffered because I had been too stupid to figure out that for myself.
    Why on earth does these simple rules not apply to our dishonourable MPs?

  • Comment number 80.

    This parliament is fuelled by greed, ego and insatiable hunger for power. It has all the gravitas of the worst school playground, the leadership of bullies and the reasoned debate of inarticulate and foul mouthed thugs. Where are the exemplary leaders, the world-class achievers, the giants of culture and commerce, the heroes, the orators, the great men (and women)? We don’t need an election that perpetuates the rotten, organised crime of today’s system. We need to scrap it and start again.

  • Comment number 81.

    What has been clearly demonstrated is that people holding high public office can not be trusted to self regulate the standards and ethics their positions demand. Parliamentary privilege and exclusivity of Canon laws for churches exclude those they protect from the laws of the land and that must change. The big issue for the next election must be Integrity; We can live with mistakes..occasional bad judgement and even gross incompetence amongst our elected representatives, providing they are honest,have integrity and put duty before self enrichment. The traditions of privilege under civil laws were introduced by and on behalf of public servants of a much higher calibre than the current bunch who should be subjected to the same laws as the rest of us.
    A full scale clear out is called for. The froth of electoral campaigning on issues and promises that will not be in the power of whichever party is elected should be disregarded. We need more honest and ethical people in power and that should determine how people vote.

  • Comment number 82.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 83.

    everyday almost another letter arrives from HMRC .... can we have more tax from you please NOW ... next year they'll want even more I guess ...

    those who set the tax laws though they ...

    claim ridiculous expenses without the need for receipts !
    lobby for cash !
    go abroad on fun junket holidays for free !
    have loads of time off doing " constituency work ! ( yeah right - skiiing in Davos or "visiting the local politicians in the Maldives )


    election ?

    why bother - bring back the monarchy ... got to be better.

  • Comment number 84.

    Peter Mandelson saying about Stephen Byers 'It's all rather grubby' What hypocrisy.

    Mandy was twice suspended for improprieties... when responded to Paxman's questions he answered just like Bill Clinton talking about his relations with that woman Miss Lewinsky.

  • Comment number 85.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 86.

    With every revelation about our discredited parliamentary system, the certainty is that a few thousand more people will not bother to vote in future elections.

    So isn't it disgraceful, that the biggest threats to democracy are the very people we elected to uphold it?

  • Comment number 87.

    It has been said that Mr Byers’s actions were naïve.

    Is such a person fit for Government Office?

    The pontificators are themselves suspect at all levels. For example, Mr Straw as Foreign Secretary and others in high office during the Iraq invasion were under the impression that the country extended to twice its actual land area.

    It can all be summed up as a total lack of integrity.

    Greed and vanity, the two fundamental human traits.

  • Comment number 88.

    Absolutely - I am under scrutiny for everything I do.

    A case of "Expenses fiddled while MP's Roamed" perhaps?

  • Comment number 89.

    The BBC can ensure greater transparancy and honesty in politics and in many other areas (the banking and press sectors spring to mind) by repeating these words each time that 'self-regulation' is mentioned in any broadcast. 'Self-regulation really means no regulation'.

  • Comment number 90.

    I’ve always voted but I’m now totally disillusioned by all of the main political parties. With the upcoming election you’d think the Muppets would keep their noses clean at least until it’s all over with and they can have another few years of picking our bones and lining their pockets.
    I can honestly say I don’t want to vote for any of the lying cheating “honourable” people who are supposed to represent us in the forthcoming elections. What’s the point they are all as bad as each other and have show us time and time again that they don’t actually care about anything but themselves.

  • Comment number 91.

    What else have this bunch of crooks been up to in all parties and how long has it been going on?
    We used to think that "My right honorable friends" were just that but reality shows them to be scheming, on the make shysters who believe that they are above the law and lack basic moral decency.
    I do not intend to vote at the next election as they have shown themselves to be egotistical hypocrites and light fingered Fagin's with little care for how the rest of us exist.
    Where is Cromwell when we need him?

  • Comment number 92.

    British democracy: the finest system of government that money can buy.

  • Comment number 93.


    Four things that seem devoid of most politicians, however abbreviations can say a lot.

  • Comment number 94.

    "How important is transparency for politicians"?

    What is ACTUALLY a more important question: " Should Politicians be more Ethical and maintain Personal Integrity"?

    Yes. Life and work for every non-criminal and 'average worker' throws up challenges everyday that are designed to confuse, lure, mislead and entice at work and at home?

    However, politicians are NOT 'average workers'! Politicians are legally voted for, and are legal representatives of the people. By that standard alone - there are no excuses to behave badly - elected politicians should be SETTING standards - NOT FLOUTING, CIRCUMVENTING OR MANIPULATING STANDARDS OF BEHAVIOUR!

  • Comment number 95.

    The human condition embraces greed for wealth and a thirst for power. Once we have a taste for it so many of us succumb to the need for more. It gradually dilutes and erodes our sense of right and wrong, and our morals too. There's plenty of evidence through history. So of course there should be more rules and regulations monitoring ministers and politicians.

  • Comment number 96.

    Why do the words 'snout' and 'trough' always seem to leap to mind whenever MPs are mentioned in the news these days? I noticed that the government is running a TV ad claiming that they will catch benefit thieves and impose serious penalties but canyou blame them for trying to work the system and get everything they can whether they are entitleed or not? Aren't the benefit theives simply emulating the behaviour of those higher up the socio-economic ladder whether it's MPS expenses or outlandish bonuses for falure? It does seem that dishonesty and sharp practice are endemic in our culture and even encouraged for some. Hypocrisy' just seems to be such an inadequate word. Perhaps our MPs spend too much time hanging out with bankers and captains of industry and not enough time with the ordinary people they so clearly despise. If they did step outside the bubble, maybe they would learn a thing or two about decency.

  • Comment number 97.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 98.

    No lessons have been learned; no advice heeded. The snouts remain firmly in the trough; it’s standing room only on the gravy-train of shame.
    The clichés of sleaze come readily to mind, and there’s little hope that a general election will sweep this grasping seedy shower out of British politics, because the vast majority of prospective MPs are career politicians, rather than men and women of experience and substance.

  • Comment number 99.

    '' At 09:40am on 23 Mar 2010, Creamfresh wrote:
    All 3 main parties are as bad as each other. Hence why I stopped voting for any of the 'big 3' years ago. Things wont change if we the people keep voting these parasites in.''
    I disagree, they are not all as bad as each other, there have been very few Lib Dems involved in any of the recent expenses scandals and revelations and Nick Clegg (unlike his two counterparts) has acted very swiftly in bringing them to book.
    Mind you given the level of Conservative and even more Labour MP's that have 'misguidedly' interpreted and confused their right to be called 'right honourable' with being 'above the law' when it comes to what they can claim for (if you follow their historic 'rules') and what they should actually claim for using their integrity and honesty, Dave and Gordon would have to give up their election campaigning if they were to allow enough time to speak to them all individually!!
    I think to avoid any further 'transparency issues' (as this seems to apply to some of those in the House of Lords as well). In future all members of both houses in parliament should cease to be called 'right honourable'! And stop with immediate effect, all this nonsense of paying for a second home (and then keeping any profits made on the sale of the said property at a later date!).
    All necessary overnight stays should be in hotels and claimed back as expenses (with receipts so these can be audited) and all expenses, perks, 'benefits in kind' etc. should ALL be treated/managed in the same way as they would in the major corporate businesses and any deviations should be refered to the police/courts/tax office/fraud squad as appropriate.
    The money saved to the tax payer from all the fiddling that has been going on could be invested in a better social care for the elderly/infirm and the environment, so that in the end we will ALL benefit.

  • Comment number 100.

    The issue here is that the House of Commons is a cosy club and it is all too easy to jump on board the extra-curricular gravy train. Tony Blair's lucrative post-prime minesterial activities didn't come about by him being cold-called. The system is rotten and corrupt, no matter how much politicians try to deny it.


Page 1 of 12

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.