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MPs' tax muddle

Robert Peston | 20:33 UK time, Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Under section 292 of the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003, MPs granted themselves exemption from tax on their overnight expenses.

The legislation says:

1) No liability to income tax arises in respect of any overnight expenses allowance paid to a Member of the House of Commons in accordance with a resolution of that House.

2) "Overnight expenses allowance" means an allowance expressed to be in respect of additional expenses necessarily incurred by the Member in staying overnight away from the Member's only or main residence, for the purpose of performing parliamentary duties - a) in the London area, as defined in such a resolution, or b) in the Member's constituency.

In the fiscal year 2007/8, the maximum that any MP could claim for overnight accommodation away from home was £23,083. And in that year, some 390 MPs claimed £20,000 or more.

Remember that under section 292, this is tax free. So the £23,083 is the equivalent of £38,471.67 of taxable income: it's a pretty hefty allowance.

But what strikes me as interesting is the definition in the Act of the "overnight expenses allowance" as "additional expenses NECESSARILY incurred...in staying overnight" (the caps, of course, are mine).

Now perhaps I'm wrong, but it seems to me this legislation should oblige Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs to take quite a close interest in the Daily Telegraph's revelations about how MPs actually spent their allowance.

One of the reasons the Telegraph's disclosures have generated a bit of surprise around the place is that a goodly number of MPs' claims for reimbursement have been in respect of expenditures that seem somewhat marginal, rather than strictly necessary, in relation to overnight accommodation.

But if that is the case, surely the relevant payments to MPs would then be liable to income tax at the 40 per cent top rate.

Or to put it another way, there may be something of a fiscal incentive for MPs to repay monies received in respect of the more exotic expenses claims - because if they weren't to do so, they might find themselves facing a tax bill.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    And quite rightly too! The revenue questioned my subscription to a computer magazine (I work in computing). They said it was like a football magazine. I answered that the rules of football don't change every week. That how marginal they can be. So yes this stuff would normally be questioned. The revenue take great delight in make examples of certain people to underscore their rules, and they probably will. This is going to run and run. :)

  • Comment number 2.

    Good that they should. This is such a sad episode because all politicans are seen as corrupt and untrustworthy which does down the great work so many of them do

  • Comment number 3.

    Shouldn't we be looking at ALL the perks and exceptions these crooks have given themselves.

    How many laws have been passed form which they have excluded themselves. As for the perks I don't have knowldedge or bother to remember all that occassionally has leaked over the years. For one, though, they have the finest food washed down with copious quantities of the finest alcohol in their palace at our expense. They seem to think they are kings. Remember fat man Prescot chauffeured down the M4 when mere mortals had to wait in line. EVERYTHING..... EVERYTHING should be included.... INCLUDING their ability to excempt themselves from their own laws.

  • Comment number 4.

    There is a great difference between transgression of the rules and transgression of the spirit of the rules. Given that the rules are crazy then many of the claims are going to look bizarre. The public perception that MP's are on the make is borne out by the behaviour of the minority of MP's but only a minority. I suspect that the majority would want to be sqeaky clean if only they knew how and the minority would milk the system for all they could. They are all overworked & too busy to give attention to the detail. The Revenue might take an interest but our tax system is so complex that genuine mistakes are quite likely. I despair of Captal Gains Tax because not even my accountant can work out whether I owe any money.
    Though we might find it amusing that the "none of the above party" wins the majority of seats in the European parliament I suspect we will not be well served by it. Even worse by the BNP & UKIP. The real trouble with politics is that people with imagination and integrity run a mile rather than stand. The rewards are poor and the comittment enormous. I am frankly appalled by the calibre of most of the current ministers but it will not improve with the current witch hunt. WE get the government we deserve.

  • Comment number 5.

    Would somebody please research parliament attendance. I seem to remember that PM Blair restructured the sitting times of the POW and went as far as to give Fridays off. Most MP's never need to be at POW between Thursday pm and Monday pm. Late night sitting are almost extinct. Any MP ( bearing in mind they are ALL good constituency MP's)should need an overnight allowance of 3 nights 30 weeks a year.

    I would be happy to allow £200 per night( inclusive) so 90 x 200 = £18000. This is a very generous allowance, but I believe would be accepted by the PUBLIC. It would stop the serious amount of money that checking, verifying and validating receipts will incurr/ waste.

    Am I wrong!!!!

  • Comment number 6.

    This is the core of the issue, many MPs decry perfectly legal methods of avoiding tax, yet do exactly the same.

    They make rules giving us a higher tax burden (de-legitimizing umbrella companies a couple of tax years back for example), yet absolve themselves of following the same, or similar, rules for personal benefit.

    The whole lot of them are a bunch of disgusting, hypocritical, self-serving, money-grubbing slime.

    As for an IR investigation, not likely to happen is it? They've refused to investigate the likes of Lord Rothermere's non-dom status, so they're certainly not going to after their political paymasters are they?

  • Comment number 7.

    #1 ChangEngland
    I'm sorry but do you really think either the taxman or the police will seriusly go after any of these. And if they do it will be as usual 'No rules were broken'. If we couldn't get Blair for an illegal war we certainly won't get them for the 'minor' misdemeanor as screwing joe public.

    This has all made me wonder we we really are. Many have written can't the Queen end this parliament? The people are so really fed up and disgusted with the whole lot and yet all the MP's do is ignore all calls for blood. No matter what an MP does these days they can't be removed. Just brazen it out and it'll go away is their philosophy. Whilst I've always thought the Queen has worked it makes you wonder now is she just a touirt attraction?

    It is time we had a proper WRITTEN constitution. It is time we stopped all this 'Well it's they way it's always been done.... it's the convention'.

    It's OUR fault. Let's start now. Labour and Conservative believe no matter what they'll share power and the pickings. We must vote for an alternative and get proper scrutiny and accountability.

    Bye

  • Comment number 8.

    Looks like QE is also helping the banks to rebuild their capital and pay huge bonuses

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/edmundconway/5319652/Traders-take-a-ride-on-the-cash-carousel.html

    Please, Robert, tell us what the Government is doing in the bond market

  • Comment number 9.

    Good spot Robert, and quite correct.
    Two further suggestions:

    1) Give MPs a salary increase which covers their expenses and remove their final salary unfunded pension scheme (which we pay for). That way they can share the tax burden heaped upon the new top rate tax payers and they will have to provide for their own futures under this pension apartheid.

    2) It will be intersting to see the next Captain of Industry hauled in front of the House of Commons Select Committee. Any CEO accused of feathering their own nest at the expense of shareholders has the higher moral ground than his/her inquisitors.

    The Government has morally and financially bankrupted the country. On the plus side, its a maximum of 55 weeks to go!

  • Comment number 10.

    Thank you for this simple explanation, which someone has kindly cross - referenced on Nick Robinson's blog. Makes me hope that my letter to the DPP a few days ago might just have had more substance to it than I originally thought. Not that I have any great hopes of action, though. The "too difficult" tray must be getting quite big by now.

    "I claimed within the rules" sounds more and more like "that big boy over there made me do it" every time I hear it said.

  • Comment number 11.

    I guess it's worth conceding that they are not all crooks.

    Apparently Vince Cable and Frank Field are a couple of the the good guys...as well as a few others.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8048215.stm

    Second homes should be scrapped. The MPs should be taken out of the property market all together (this could be one of the root causes of the housing bubble and why nothing was done about it). The MP's that live a long way from London should just get a modest rental allowance and they should be subject to the same tax laws that the rest of us are when incurring expenses in the course of doing business. From now on, all expenses should be published on the internet. Attendance records at Westminster should also be published for all MPs. Tax evasions should be presecuted. A third of MPs should go as there are too many.
    I'm loathed to say that perhaps they should get a modest pay raise.

    And as for their pensions...I won't go there just now. As they say, that's a whole new can o' worms.

    The latest revelations on news on ten are even more depressing...we have not neared the bottom of this yet if the chatter on some of the political blogs re allegations and injunctions are true.

  • Comment number 12.

    Come on Robert,

    It hasn't been the law - it's been the interpretation of "rules" drawn up and interpreted by Parliament itself - that has caused the problems.

    And the reluctance of HMRC to check whether the rules of a club were actually in conformity with general tax laws. The real question is why there has never been a challenge as to whether allowances/expenses paid actually met the criteria set out in the MPs' Green Book. (All that stuff about being expenses necessarily incurred to support the performance of a specific job. So how do patio heaters, artex ceiling skimmings, mole removal actually ensure that an MP can do his/her job?)

    I have no problem whatsoever with MPs from outside London being allowed to live a reasonable life when they need to attend the Commons. There are some singles, some married people, some people with families. They need a bit of flexibility to allow a reasonable way to live between two competing locations.

    Just explain why Balls and Cooper are allowed to buy a London home at tax-payers' expense, when they both lived and worked in London before becoming MPs. And where their children live. And from which location the parents go to work and the kids go to school.

    But the Secretary of State for Children and SCHOOLS claims he lives in a "second home". So how come his kids get access to places in London schools, when his "main home" is in Yorkshire?

    Is the Minister cheating his own educational statutes by using a false address to access a desirable catchment area? (There is a parent facing prosecution because she claimed to live in one place but was actually 3 miles - not hundreds of miles - away...) Or is he cheating us (tax-payers) by making us pay to buy his "first home"?

    Can you imagine Balls and Cooper heading back to Yorkshire, with their children, when their Ministerial careers come to an abrupt end?

    It's just sick.

    But, no doubt it's not as sick as making Brown parrot "post neoclassical endogenous growth theory" in an address to a collection of economists?

    Have you ever conducted a survey to examine the educational backgrounds of the board members of FTSE 100 companies? Getting down to what quality and discipline of degrees - or other qualifications - they hold?

    This government seems full of people who wave around First class degrees in fairly non-scientific, failry subjective subjects as though they would guarantee a high flying career in the tough real world of business. Have you - or anyone else - conducted a study to see how many holders of First Class degrees (or Phds) languish in middle management because they just can't cut it out there?

    Or an investigation of how many ground breaking CEOs or Chairmen with less-than-perfect Uni qualifications were just good at business? (Not sure I like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs despite their achievements - but they were drop outs. Branson? Sugar? Lord King? Never got close.)

    There are plenty of people with a "classical" education who can cut it. Lots of people with looser education who just don't worry about it.

    My worry is that we have a "political class" - people who have minimal understanding of or exposure to the realities of life in the UK - who happily wander off to strut the world stage, as though they have a basis in reality at home.

    Viz; Brown, saviour of the global economy, while ours goes down the pan. His economic/financial education performed by Ed Balls - who talked it, but has never been involved in the real world of doing it!; Miliband Snr, who seems to feel he's a "natural" as Foreign Secretary while coming across as a bright kid; Miliband Jnr who was challenged in China about his credentials - as a non-scientist - to debate climate change against folk who could never be Ministers without a suitable background.

    It's not good enough to wave a piece of paper and say "I must be brighter than all you lot in every way" because you've got a degree. Life just ain't lived like that for 95 plus p.c. of people.

    If cleverness were a criterion, Brown would never have allowed the dumb YouTube ducking and diving/ show off the teeth occasionally nonsense that really stuffed his image.

    Just get real.


  • Comment number 13.

    Glad to read your views on this topic, Robert.

    It seems very obvious to me that the cure for these damn expenses is simple. Parliamentary duties should take place in normal working hours - 9am to 5pm - so that MPs can get home to whatever wild and remote corner of these islands they come from using normal transport, just like the rest of the population. Their constituency work should be done at other times, including "unsociable hours" if necessary, as MPs could get back to their main, local residence with minimum additional expense.

    The system of debating late at night is simply a throwback to some archaic tradition which is no longer relevant.

    If there was no reason for staying overnight, away from a Member's only or main residence, there would be no expenses system and no temptation to abuse the system. If Members didn't abuse the system, they might be trusted and be seen as models of society. If they were seen as models of society, it might have an effect on the integrity of institutions in general throughout the land. If institutions were trustworthy, the complaints from constituents to their MPs would be less, and these honourable Members would have a smaller workload, and the cost to them and the taxpayer would be reduced considerably.


  • Comment number 14.

    Perhaps it would be easier to convert the H.O.P into H.M.P?

    An open one of course where they could grow VEGATABLES!!

  • Comment number 15.

    "But what strikes me as interesting is the definition in the Act of the "overnight expenses allowance" as "additional expenses NECESSARILY incurred...in staying overnight" (the caps, of course, are mine).

    Now perhaps I'm wrong, but it seems to me this legislation should oblige Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs to take quite a close interest in the Daily Telegraph's revelations about how MPs actually spent their allowance."

    Robert,

    That's been evident for years. Though never exposed as it is now.

    The Green Book does not say that payments are exempt from scrutiny from HMRC - just that claims should be made, considering tax laws, and incurred in order to suppirt the performance of the task of being an MP.

    Why has HMRC never brought a test case to check that a private club's rules actually conform to the common set of laws?

    If there has been any complicity between the Commons Fees Office/ their managers and Treasury (who control HMRC), then heads should roll.

    I don't understand why, as a tax-payer, I should contribute towards the cleaning of Gordon Brown's flat, which he doesn't live in, because we have already paid for his London pad for 12 years.

    Man's a buffoon.

    Not an economist, either!

  • Comment number 16.

    Didn't someone in Parliament recently say they were going to close all tax loopholes?

  • Comment number 17.

    Many MPs have now shown their true colours by thinking that saying 'I've done nothing wrong, I've not broken any rules' makes everything OK. Everything isn't OK, things are very wrong.

    Many of the items claimed for are so obviously not applicable that they can really only have been claimed because the claimer assumed that the claim details would always remain confidential.

    And now they think that saying 'I've paid it back' will make everything OK. It doesn't. It's not too different from burglars saying it when they got caught!

    Some have offered to pay Capital Gains Tax on the profits made on tax-payer funded property gains. It's not just the CGT that should be paid, it's the gain as well. It should be the tax-payers profit.

    Here's an idea.. How about at the next election every current MP has to list their claimed expenses on their promotional leaflets. It's not to make it a single issue election but just to clear up any confusion. What possible objection could they have to that?

    We'll see.


  • Comment number 18.

    390 MPs (significantly more than half of all MPs) claimed "£20,000 or more" from a maximum allowed of £23,083".

    Nothing more has to be said. These are despicable crooks, on the make, squeezing out every possible penny they can get away with, and lining their pockets.

    We don't want synthetic "apologies", supported by the party PR machines, also paid for buy us, in a feeble effort to mould public opinion. We want our money back, and we DEMAND that OUR tax authorities, and other relevant agencies, get back every single penny that we are owed. The figures are there, on record.

    We also want appropriate prosecutions.

    Let us hope that SOME of our MPs have a capacity for decency, and an ability to feel shame, and will volunteer repayment of their fraudulant claims. But let us not expect too much from this shower of charlatans.

    "It was within the rules" is the modern MP's equivalent of "We were only obeying orders".

    "People who are literally demoralised" was how Cameron described many inner city inhabitants. The implication was that he could do something about that. Let him now look more closely at his own place of work, and act accordingly.

    As for Brown... Just go away. But check up on Ed Balls and the missus beforehand, would you?

    What ghastly people. Yeuch.

  • Comment number 19.

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

  • Comment number 20.

    There is something very wrong about the current news on 'expenses'.

    MPs are supposed to be of the people for the people. Yet, when it comes out of the blue that they've been fiddling expenses, they can easily lay their hands on £40,000+ to pay back.

    How many of their constituents can quickly find £40,000 cash to pay up a bill?

    We are not being represented by our members of parliament, we are being governed. And the sooner this stops, the better.

  • Comment number 21.

    As a tax expert, I have been asking this self same question.

    These perks are benefits in kind. They should have appeared on the MP's P11Ds as benefits in kind.

    If you or I don't declare a benefit in kind, and do so knowingly, it is a criminal offence. I don't see anything in this section which puts MPs on a different footing.

    HMRC have the power to go back 20 years in such cases.

    And remember under declaring taxable income of this nature - this is tax EVASION not avoidance. Fines and penalties should be in point.

  • Comment number 22.

    I felt the apologies and the spin don't feel right. Now I know why.

    Alarm bells should have been ringing loudly when law makers and governments exempt themselves from what they impose upon others.

    With blatancy and in secrecy, what else have law makers and governments make themselve and their friends exception to the rules?

  • Comment number 23.

    restrospective backdating + interest + a trip to court nothing more nothing less, then move on there are bigger fish to fry and bigger things going on

  • Comment number 24.

    Here's a good list...check out your own MP's expenses...

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8044207.stm?table=name&order=desc

  • Comment number 25.

    Are London MPs allowed to claim overnight expense allowances?
    How many MPs, out of 646, are not allowed to claim second home?

  • Comment number 26.

    There doesn't seem to be a shortage of people wanting to become M.P's; surely they are aware of what the job entails and it's associated salary. Perhaps they should be paid a salary which refelcts their responsibilities but I seem to remember Kenneth Clarke, as Education secretary, refusing a rise to teachers on the grounds that there was no shortage therefore the salaries must be alright.

  • Comment number 27.

    Is this an idea whose time has come?


    http://www.turfthemout.me.uk/

  • Comment number 28.

    THE MAJORITY OF NORMAL WORKING PEOPLE DONT GET ALLOWANCES TO GO ABOUT THEIR WORK REQUIREMENTS AND CERTAINLY DONT GET A SALERY OF AROUND ABOUT £63000.LORD STILL BELIEVES THAT IF THE ALLOWANCES ARE REDUCED MPS CONSIDERING THE AMOUNT OF WORK THEY PUT IN!SHOULD GET A RELATIVE INCREASE INSTEAD.IF THIS IS SO WHY SHOULD THEY NOT BE PUT ON LEGAL CONTRACT TO ABIDE BY THE RULES WHICH WOULD LAYED DOWN IN THE CONTRACT TO PREVENT EXCESSIVE COST TO TAXPAYER.

  • Comment number 29.

    I cannot believe 4. At 9:38pm on 13 May 2009, EasternFestoon

    a) The rules are bizarre because THEY made them that way
    b) It takes a majority to pass legislation, but I suppose as we hardly see any of them in the Chamber it is just possible 6 MPs voted to exclude them all from the Tax Laws, the rest 'mistakenly didn't realise it'
    c) They did NOT vote for the release of their expenses ( see (b) above.
    d) So far we seem to have about 13 MPs from all parties who haven't claimed - not a majority is it?
    e) Yes, I've heard it before, we pay them peanuts so they are Monkeys, well we paid Bankers Billions, and they turned out to be Monkeys too.
    f) Overworked, well that wouldn't be in Westsminster I guess, as they have 126 days or so Holiday, and work a 4 day week apparenbtly, when they are there. Lucky they don't work in a Factory (mind you at the last count I don't think anyone in the UK was working in a factory) or in a school?
    Lets face it, the EU run so much of our lives now, what is the point of Westminster other than as an expensive Members only club?


  • Comment number 30.

    There is now a vast body of evidence that establishes a clear prima facie case for criminal prosecutions against a very large number of MPs. Is anything actually going to happen to these people? If not, may I take it that it is now every man for himself and none of us need obey laws of this country any more?

    I'd just like to get this clear before I pop out and arm myself with suitable weaponry to rob a few banks before they get cleared out by everyone else.

  • Comment number 31.

    fairly open-minded

    excuse me!

    Leave the rest of the educated folk alone; they can't cut it?
    Most of them wouldn't be interested in playing the stupid games needed to 'get to the top'. The smarter, more educated amongst us do sometimes have a bit of self-respect, and aim for quality of life, not amoral chasing of money and false power.

    Many academic areas abhor immorality, so no surprise there is little representation of those areas in big business, political careerists etc!
    wee chip on the shoulder!

    Remember that the next time you take yourself off to the NHS doc!

  • Comment number 32.

    A few points;

    1. They should never had had the cheek to try it on in the first place
    2. And were the officers simply taking the recipts totalling the amount and writing cheques with no examination of what the purchases were?

    It's really simple. They get a salary. Those outwith communting distance should be allowed to rent a basic flat or B&B for each night they need to be in London. With a cap, th esame cap placed on those who are in receipt of housing benefit.

    Travel should be coach class, booked way in advance for the cheapest deal whereever possible.

    Food allowances etc should be restricted to what those who are unemployed are restricted to. If it is good enough for all those losing their jobs in this recession, then why not them?

    Silk cushions and fancy lights! I don't think so. Oxfam or nothing, more like it!

    It seems to me this lot have got carried away with hanging out with the banking Masters of the Universe and therefore think the lifestyle they have is normal.

    Easy to prevent that happening again. For every minute they spend in a meeting with a rich guy looking for some policy, they should also have to spend twice that amount of time with a poor or ordinary guy! It is the ordinary guys who vote for them, not businesses - last time I looked it was only people who were allowed to select MPs. They are employed by us, they should live like us and do our will, not the will of rich out-of-their-minds-no-sense-of-reality rich bankers and business folk.

    If they don't like the pay and conditions then they shouldn't be there. They should be there for the greater good (isn't that what they tell us when they run?) and not for the money!

    I've received a postcard from my MP today asking me which party I am likely to vote for. Well, since he is in the top 20 of exepense recipients I've no idea why he needs to spend our money to ask the obvious - is he that dumb?

    It won't ever be him ever again! As his employer, I vote he gets his P45!

    ASAP

    The greens, the libdems, ukip, the independents, all of you, is this the opportunity to take power you have been waiting for? Get campaigning

  • Comment number 33.

    MPs should be judged against the normal practice in private sector;
    Final salary pension schemes - gone
    Tax burden risen - remove those exceptions for MPs
    Expense claims - no first class travel, expected to travel on own time, just basic accommodation and meals claimable
    Pay - zero or pay cuts this year and probably next
    Efficiency and productivity gains of 10 percent expected each year

  • Comment number 34.

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

  • Comment number 35.

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

  • Comment number 36.

    The people are very angry about MPs expense claims, they will be even more upset next year when the printing press has stopped, and the inflation is running wild, so far only the private sector is feeling the pain of this recession, pretty soon the public sector will feel the pain, at the moment they are all saying what recession? and they cannot wait to get the property market bubble inflated again, in the hope of seeing their investments saved , enjoy your overpaid public sector wages while you can, your turn will come after the next election.

    There is no difference between an MP and a Citizen on Job-seekers
    they are both funded by the tax payer

    Only the MPs tend to forget this

  • Comment number 37.

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

  • Comment number 38.

    MPS tax muddle ,seems like a good idea in principle but so was the window tax

    Let us not forget the recently departed ,a moments silence please.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1181415/MPs-EXPENSES-Blairs-43-000-expenses-shredded-incompetence.html

  • Comment number 39.

    Theres a lot of Brown Stauff to be cleared away ,which is why the Lord of the flies has been called in.He can claim it on expences even though its free.

  • Comment number 40.

    If MPs are supposed to represent the voters who sent them to Parliament, then why are'nt we enjoying all the perks they get? If tax free allowences are good enough for my democratic representitive in Parliament then they're good enough for me. Anyone want to join the Tax Free Party or the I'm All Right Jack Party?

  • Comment number 41.

    40 Speaking of "Im all right Jock"

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAii8tPrwtQ


    Its interesting because Malcolm Muggeridge [in the above clip]was rector of EDINBOROUGH UNIVERSITY when its "STUDENT" magazine was influenced by Gordon Brown

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    page 10 11 and 12

  • Comment number 42.


    Better link for previous post

    http://www.malcolmmuggeridge.org/gargoyle/

    No 15 july 2007 in the above link go to page 10 11 and 12

  • Comment number 43.

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

  • Comment number 44.

    For the ordinary employee for expenses to be allowable against income tax and not be treated as a benefit in kind (on which they would be taxed) expenses need to be WHOLLY, NECESSARILY and EXCLUSIVELY for business purposes i.e. a much more stringent set of criteria that are applied to MPs. This is why HMRC will challenge claiming computer magazine subscriptions as an allowable expense.

    Another point to note about HMRC is that they WILL charge penalties and interest, both at rates that are designed to be penal on tax paid late or in respect of errors made on annual tax returns that result in extra tax needing to be paid.

    So for all those MPs who have been busy repaying Capital Gains tax or even previously incorrectly claimed expenses they might have to dig a bit deeper into their pockets.

    I do know that in my job I would probably have been sacked for claiming "in error"

  • Comment number 45.

    If this were not so sad, it would be funny. Brown should apologize to his party, the nation and the world for the government and Britains actions in the last 10 years. Then resign to spend more time with his family. I am not quite sure whether Labour are proof that socialism does not work, but they certainly lived up to the stereotypical socialist image. They have blighted all our lives, the lives of those to come and too many lives in other countries as well.

  • Comment number 46.

    As an official for a trade union I have represented many people over many years with regard to problems with expenses. It should be a cornerstone of our democracy that our MP's are reflective of the community they represent yet the gulf in the reality of that has never been better demonstrated.

    It's almost unbelievable isn't it that not one single MP as fallen on their metaphoriacal sword over these revelations that they fought so hard to keep away from us (freedom of information my *r*e)

    I have represented employees who have been dismissed for

    1- posting a magazine to a friend using NHS post without a stamp
    2- Eating a Sandwich left over from a meeting that was to be thrown in the bin.
    3- A nurse Calling in to pick up washing powder from a supermarket in work time whilst between meetings.
    4- Leaving work early without permission when child had an accident and was taken to hospital.
    5- and lots where staff had claimed for something in error.

    The theme that runs through all of these is that, in the real world " sorry it was a mistake" Simply doesn't cut it, not for employers, not for the tax man, not for the courts so why is that an excuse for repeated abuse for our MP's

    Until the worst offenders have been removed, 100 should do it, we should not move on, if your too incompetent to remember which is your main home or that you dont have a mortgage then your too incompetent to be an MP.

    Enough is Enough.

  • Comment number 47.

    I drove a friend to hospital yesterday, a distance of 42 miles there and back. She is pregnant, has gestational diabetes and as a consequence is not working and on income support.

    To get a reimbursement of the £5.04 petrol costs (12p per mile) we had to ask the department that she was visiting to write a letter to the cashier in the same hospital stating she had visited - a process that took 30 minutes - just to claim back £5.04!

    Compare and contrast that with MPs expenses.

  • Comment number 48.

    To: bimthedandyandy

    Have you completely forgotten the Thatcher/Major years? ALL the major parties are like this. I will be voting Green at the next general election. THINK about your vote!


  • Comment number 49.

    There is much justified anger in respect of MPs expenses which the revenue and police in the fullness of time will investigate.

    But there is an equally pressing and less transparent group of bodies.

    These are called quangoes. These bodies,(to be checked but I believe in excess of 200) such as Regional Development Authorities, Thamesgateway, English Partnership etc are controlled by non-elected people who in some cases manage budgets higher than those of some local authorities.

    The performance of the three quangoes mention has been very poor with extremely low value for money.

    Who is controlling this expenditure?

  • Comment number 50.

    No wonder the tax band of 50% was introduced - above MPs' salaries. Also late tax payment requires interest at a ridciulously high rate. Another reson to payback.

  • Comment number 51.

    If an MP decides to pay money to HMRC (eg CGT) then surely this is an admission that they have broken the tax rules.

    If a member of the public were to do this they would find themselves prosecuted for tax fraud. Why not the MPs?

    The same goes for allowances claimed which should, in fact, be treated as 'benefits in kind'. They should have been declared and therefore tax evasion has taken place.

    One thing that further incenses the public is the notion that 'important people' never seem to get hauled up for these kinds of crimes, and yet HMRC seem very assiduous in pursuing 'the little people'.

    No MPs have resigned or been sacked, or are ever likely to be proscuted for effectively diddling the tax-payer. It seems the worse that can happen to them is that they may have to relinquish some of their ill-gotten gains. This is not what the Court of Public Opinion would regard as justice.

  • Comment number 52.

    I get annoyed by people who say that a minority of MPs are involved in these claims. If just a minority are involved the excessive claims of these individuals would not have been passed. Any expense system works to a norm and the tendency is in any organisation, for individuals to claim the maximum possible, some perhaps being more creative than others.
    It seems to me that it was generally accepted by MPs that they should claim the maximum possible as an alternative to a possibly justified pay rise. It is not surprising thet they had to be creative. Maybe some were even encouraged by the more senior and compliant members to do so. The thing that worries me mostly is how our politicians are so naive as to assume that this information would not eventually come into the public domain.
    This situation is heavily distorted also by the second home allowance which is a scandal and needs removing from the system. It should be replaced by a simple overnight stay allowance. A satisfactory rate could be agreed with recognised hotels. This is the way any other organisation would do it.
    I honestly now think it is time to draw a line, say sorry and move on. The alternative can only lead to a complete breakdown in the political system and anarchy, and that is good for nobody.

  • Comment number 53.

    Surely there are benefit in kind tax liabilities and such benefits/expenses should be reported by the MPs employer on Form P11D, as for everyone else in the country?

  • Comment number 54.

    "A former minister has admitted he claimed £16,000 on expenses for a mortgage that had been paid off.

    Labour MP Elliot Morley told the BBC he had repaid some back and it had been a mistake which he felt terrible about."

    Why are the BBC not reporting this as "FRAUD"?

    There is no other name for it.

    When we have pensioners going to prison for not paying Council Tax, how can he be allowed to get away with this.

  • Comment number 55.

    Robert - as an IT Consultant I regularly work away from home and can incur many thousands of pounds per month in expenses. These are reimbursed. If I added them together they would probably equate to around £20k per annum. That does not mean that I'm earning an additional £30k+/year. Whilst I'm appauled at the blatant abuse of this poorly defined and poorly administered expenses system, we should be careful about how we report the money reinbursed from legitimate claims and that related to flagrant abuse.

  • Comment number 56.

    If a MP claims that their main property is in London, and their second home in their consituancy. Then they claim the 23k on mortgage interest and repairs on the consituancy.

    If their family lives full time in the consituancy that property is not excusivily used in their duties.

    So surley they are at MOST only allowed to claim 50% of the costs?

  • Comment number 57.

    I have been a contractor all my working life and i have had to work away from my home for long periods of time. The tax rules on expenses for these away from home contracts are that i can only claim for tax free living expenses for a period of two years. If i work in the same contract for longer than two years the expenses i have paid myself become taxable or if i new at the time of starting the contract the work would be longer than 2 years i am not permitted to pay myself any tax free expenses.I have had to leave a contract to look for other works because i am close to the 2 year period. Why are the rules for mp's different?

  • Comment number 58.

    Many MPs have simply been "playing the system".
    Let's be realistic.....that's a national pastime.
    But SOME MPs have undoubtedly been involved in something that is very close to illegal, and fraudulent.
    My personal view is that Brown hasn't the time or the inclination to get involved, and that Cameron knows that he has had to keep his claims low.
    "Re-pay the excesses" seems fair enough to me for the majority of them, but a few may deserve the attentions of the police.
    Then change the system....this one is a sleaze-mongers paradise.

  • Comment number 59.

    Both the Post Office and Essex County Council and anumber of other companys have robust T&S systems that the goverment endorce. Sugget that it would not take long to set them up for MP's; then we would all be getting the same.

  • Comment number 60.

    I guess the MP's will also be volunteering to pay interest on the monies to be repaid to both Parliament and the taxman (who charges the rest of us interest on outstanding balances!) I didnt see Hazel Blears include this in her cheque!

  • Comment number 61.

    I've always been amazed that the government supported an immoral banking system which values those who live on debt over the needs of those who were prudent and had savings. It seemed all wrong somehow. Now I know that those immoral values were being condoned and supported by MPs who have been shown to be immoral themselves.

  • Comment number 62.

    # 46 - neilark
    Very well put


  • Comment number 63.

    There must have been a time when the use of 'Honourable' meant something when MP's addressd each other. Until they collectively understand what this means they need to remove it

  • Comment number 64.


    Is there anyone out there that is willing to bring a PRIVATE PROSECUTION? With a complicit DPP we need someone to take this up

    apoligies for another post (i am VERY angry)

  • Comment number 65.

    If a criminal gets off on a tecnicality it dont make him an inocent man

  • Comment number 66.

    About time the press started to highlight the tax evasion issue. Well done Robert. This reporting of mp's many of them committing criminal acts, returning monies stolen to the Inland Revenue needs furthur investigation, because the money returned becomes a tax credit which can be claimed back from the IR when this all blows over.....

  • Comment number 67.

    When MPs are found to be fiddling their expenses, all they appear to get is a slap on the wrist, whereas in the real world, if workers are found to be conning their employer by submitting false expenses, it's the sack for them.

  • Comment number 68.

    I simply cannot conceive of an expense system that could not be constructed to meet all circumstances of non-Westminster accessible MPs by their legal boffins. The whole business smells of "snouts in the trough" only exceeded by the Brussels "gravy train" (led by the Kinnock family cashing in on European laxity where the external auditors have refused to sign the accounts for years and years because of perceived fraud and corruption)). If your principal home - which must be declared at the outset and where your spouse/partner and family are based (no such issue if you are single) -is more than, say 15, miles from London (they can commute like we have to do and late night taxis could be covered) then you should be entiltled TO RENT A FLAT or APARTMENT up to a given amount each month. If you want better, you pay it yourself.

    The cost of furniture for unfurnished accomodation could be included (again up to a limit)and a modest daily subsistence allowance.

    There you are. Dusted and sorted.

    Now lets deal with the real issues like health, education and crime.

    Good old Norman Tebbit. Says it like it is again.

    Good heavens that dates me - but I did meet him in Tescos once! How's that for fame.

  • Comment number 69.

    Where are the police and the Inland Revenue.offences of fraud are being declared on a daily basis.sorry.forgot.. the police and IR are now so politicised that the senior echelons refuse to show any integrity for fear of losing their next promotion or pension

  • Comment number 70.

    The two things that have really stood out for me are:

    1: The number of MPs who have claimed to have made a mistake.
    This doesn't cut it - are we supposed to believe they haven't noticed that they have an extra £10-15k suddenly?

    2: The number of MPs who have said 'I didn't think it would be approved'. Anyone who has used this excuse should be immediately expelled from the house. This excuse implies that they knew that the claim in question was outside the rules and should not have been made, regardless of whether the expenses wallahs in the Commons were too spineless to refuse it.

  • Comment number 71.

    The manner and way in which it was revealed that our elected members of parliament have been abusing their expence allowances for personal gain, is just another example of the saying that power corrupts. The saddest aspect of this sorry saga is that in doing so they have undermined one of the cornerstones of democracy.

    In behaving this way our MPs have shown that even those who were thought were honourable and trustworthy can become guilty of greed and corruption when an opportunity makes itself available. It is no secret that the level of greed and corruption is directly proportional to the ammount of power that individulas or groups are given or lay claim to. In other words it becomes a case of much wants more.

    That is especially true of some our wealthiest or gifted people and that includes corporate businessman (or woman) and a number of pious trade union officials/leaders.

  • Comment number 72.

    Yes I guess there is the tax issue but then again, a lot of businesses and people in the private sector also get expenses that they don't declare tax on. As do people in day to day life - our tax system is pretty complex! I would suspect that a lot of private sector businesses are pretty bad with their P11D benefit disclosures in terms of taxable expenses and I'm sure a lot of them get swept under the rug. Not to say that MP's expenses aren't shocking (I for one am appalled by the gall of what they claim) but lets put it into context that this is happening in the private sector as well...

  • Comment number 73.

    Robert,

    Can you tell me and the other readers what is the exact nature of the employment relationship between the MPs and Parliament? Given that they are elected for variable terms, are they classed as direct employees or as freelancers?

    If it is the former, then why do they not come under the rules they/HMRC laid down regarding what employees can and cannot claim for?

    If they are freelancers/self-employed, should they not come under the same rules as IT Contractors such as IR35 if they retain their seats for more than two years?

    It would be great if Gordon Brown came under the same rules that he imposed on contractors in order to rake in more tax.

  • Comment number 74.

    If HMRC apply their rules correctly then not only should the MP's face paying tax on the benefit they received, but also a fine and a multiplier for failure to disclose.

  • Comment number 75.

    It is a mess and very few MPs come out of this untouched but in such a complex system we need to seperate out abuse from minor errors, after all we cannot replace the entire political class. Having said that I do hope the revenue service looks more closely at some of the larger claims; if we were talking benefit claiments no mercy would be shown.

    It is more interesting to read today's list on the BBC of low claiming MPs. There are people out there who look at there personal circumstances and do not claim because they are independently wealthy, do not need a second home or make a point of minimising expenses. These MPs need to be headlined as an example and there input used for an urgent rewrite of the rule book.

    The problem of course is that it becomes a distraction from real issues of government and I suspect one of the drivers behind the Telegraph's publication; the European elections (which are not important according to Tebbit's strategy) will be used as a protest resulting in at best a large UKIP return, at worst a large BNP return. This will do nothing to enhance the position or influence of the UK in Europe.

  • Comment number 76.

    I am allowed a 5 pound ( tax free ) overnight payment when away from home . Perhaps this could be extended to MP's.

  • Comment number 77.

    Surely the Revenue would be failing in their duty if they didn't review the claims and allowances of every single MP? They should go back at least four years - and be as 'picky' as they possible can.

    The defence that the honourable gentlemen 'didn't break the rules' is now wearing a bit thin. They created the rules. The rules are a cheats charter. They knew that. Isn't it interesting how many of them have made 'genuine mistakes'?

    Paying back money does not absolve the crime - and in 'the court of public opinion' there have been many crimes committed. A price needs to be paid. At the very least Party leaders need to cull any MP that has made any claim that is in any way 'queationable' - regardless of 'their rules'. Will it happen? When pigs fly perhaps.

    This whole affair serves to emphasise the need for serious political reform - 400 MPs not 645...100 'peers' not 800, no second jobs, a ban on lobbying and 'new rules' will do for a start...or should we be consdering revolution as a better way to affect change?





  • Comment number 78.

    In 2000, didn't the case of Furniss v Dawson, if my memory serves me correctly, rule that a series of transactions enetered into, each of which was legiimate in its own rite, but when enacted sequentially was designed to avoid tax, was in fact unlawful? If so is this not the case with flipping?

    And, in any event these mendacious, vile hypocritical creatures need to be taught a lessson that I fear only the electorate can teach the, please.

    I am sorry, I apologise - because I was caught!

    It was a mistake - I am incompetent to represent my constituents.

    I have/will repay the amount. Oh, well, that's ok then.

    Off to the tower with them and off with their heads. Their crime? Treason:the betrayal of trust of the British people.

  • Comment number 79.

    55 the 20-30k which you claim is probably for hotel's taxi's restuarnt's and the like, so you are acually helping the the economy wheras mp's claims for morgage interest only benifit themselves

  • Comment number 80.

    This belongs sqaurely in Nick Robinson's blog. Nowhere near business, or at least extremely tenuous link. You'd be just as able to write about the effect of a lack of sponsorship effecting Formula 1 were your remit as slack as this article alludes to.

    I wouldn't mind as it's an interesting point you make...but for the fact that there is so much other interesting business related news out there which I fear will be missed. [BT/Network Rail etc]

  • Comment number 81.

    #49 homewebb

    There are between 1,057 and 1,162 Quangos in the UK (not even the government knows the full statistics) which run at a total cost of £63bn (some say £23bn). They are believed to employ over 700,000 staff. In addition, there are around 500 NHS trust and health authority boards. Groups such as magistrates and school governors are not quangos. Earlier last century (around the fifties), you could count the number of semi-autonomous public bodies - such as the British Council and the BBC - on the fingers of both hands. But, in the 1970s, they began to mushroom, and, at their peak, there were well over 2,000 of them. The Thatcher government set about dismantling many of them - but also found it necessary to create additional ones.

    Quangos are a tool of patronage. Put a difficult customer, or one who needs a reward, onto a quango and you have saved yourself ministerial trouble and bestowed a favour on someone at the same time. One cannot say that one will therefore abolish quangos. They need to be evaluated to discover which are providing a vital function, and at what cost. Only then can it be decided whether a particular quango should be terminated.


  • Comment number 82.

    Even Peston is getting involved in MP's expenses. I guess with the markets in freefall and BT announcing 15000 job cuts - what else is there to talk about?

    Still, at least Peston's getting the boot in - shall we ask him what his Father claimed in expenses from the House of Lords?

    ....I guess not then....

    However this little episode does raise a very important question.

    How can you trust people who have no morals to ensure the moral standards are maintained within the banking industry?

    The answer is you can't - which is why calls for improved regulation are simply diversionary tactics. Simply to give the public confidence that 'something will change'.

    The reality is, when MP's are being asked by the FSA to bring in some law to restrict banking practice in some way, and the CEO of a bank (or his agent) approach MP's individually with offers of 'pool cleaning' and 'moat rebuilding' in return for voting against the proposal - where do you think the MP's loyalties will lie?

    Those moats don't clean themselves you know...

  • Comment number 83.

    These rules are no more than those that should have been enforced by the fees office. In my previous business life some twenty members of sales and other staff often needed to stay away from home from time to time. There were other expenses too of course such as running the company car, telephone etc. Our rule was however was that all such staff had to regularly submit their schedules, known to us as 'journey plans', two weeks ahead.

    Although these were principally used as a tool for management to take a view as to sales and marketing priorities, they were also used by the accounts office to validate claims. Anything that appeared anomalous was referred to the sales director's office for clarification. In this age of blackberries and the like; all of which are easily downloadable and transmittable, I see no reason why such an approach should not now be considered for MPs.

  • Comment number 84.

    Some of these MP's, Elliot Morley today for example, are 'employed' to run our country and make important decisions that mould our lives.

    Yet they claim tha completing a simple expense claim is beyond them and that the error was a simple 'mistake' - complete tosh in my opinion.

    Either they should be dismissed for displaying incompetence that shows they are not fit for office OR they should be dismissed for defrauding the taxpayer. I can not think of a middle ground where they should be allowed to continue.

  • Comment number 85.

    I think most people recognise that the expenses row is the bile leaking from a corrupt system. Al Capone and taxes springs to mind.

    Voter to Mr Brown (Blair), it is raining here.

    Brown (Blair) to Voter, I don't recognise that information, you will find that in most places it is not raining, in fact the sun is beaming down on 90% of the country (you just can't see it).

    Just like the lid was kept on the recession making it worse, either we resolve the democratic representation issues now or we will face a far more damaging revolt.

  • Comment number 86.

    Robert

    Just a quick point which someone must of thought about. Could not MP's be given a flat each in the Olympic village and then all of this second home nonsense stopped and the government bail out justified. Indeed is not the Olympics held in the summer recess, so like students they could be kicked out for a while. The scurity must be there also for the Olympics. My wife suggested it the other night and I am still struggling to find a downside...

    Be interesting to think this one through as an economic possibility?

  • Comment number 87.

    As a private sector employee who has had my expenses scrutinised in fine detail for the last 20 years e.g £10.00 a meal if staying away if I can justify the overnight stay, I really cannot comprehend how the Inland Revenue has allowed this to happen and to this extent! In the private sector if you falsify/inflate expenses it is gross misconduct and you get fired and your reputation is tarnished. Clearly, if you work in Parliament it is a very different story.

  • Comment number 88.

    I'm somewhat annoyed by all this, but maybe not for the same reasons as most people. The rules and laws governing MPs expenses have been (like all such things) open to public scrutiny. As far as I can tell, not one MP has been caught doing anything overtly illegal (such that it would invite a criminal prosecution). This isn't the same thing as a dictator building a palace for each day of the week while their citizens starve.

    We're saying things like "they're only paying the money back now they've been caught with their hands in the till" but in a democracy where we directly elect MPs to represent us, why has it taken until now for someone to notice? Could it be, perhaps, that rather than vote on policies or the moral character of politicians and parties, people in the UK have voted for (shock! horror!) THE PEOPLE/PARTY THAT WILL GIVE THEM THE BEST DEAL.

    It's embarrassingly hypocritical...i've not heard one person say that they wouldn't claim expenses they were entitled to under current rules/laws because of some moral guidance. No-one on the Vox Pops is saying "well, I thought my mileage allowance was too high so I paid some back" or "I didn't think it was right to claim for that overtime I did because I was finished pretty early". All I hear is "if I tried this at my job, I'd be sacked!!". Then change the rules of the job!

    Why wasn't this a burning issue at the last election? The one before? ANY election ever? Which party can get my kids into the best school? Which party will tax me less? Which party will keep my mortgage payments lowest? These are the self-serving issues that the majority of people vote on and will continue to vote on. This sudden cry of moral outrage is just embarrassing.

    By all means, we should reform the system. MPs claiming for things like toilet seats, mock tudor beams, pornographic films and accommodation for student offspring is clearly wrong. The reason it's wrong isn't some kind of mass corruption of people in power though, the reason is that until an issue is rubbed in the voters faces by some alarmist, two-bit, sensationalist journalist (who I presume is doing the job for money, rather than a warm glow of moral superiority) the public simply don't care. 5 minutes of research into the current rules/laws would have been enough to show people that they were clearly hugely suspect.

    The right to live in a democracy is balanced somewhat in my opinion by the responsibility of the electorate to take time to understand the policies, agenda and character of the politicians they vote for. We all need to take collective responsibility for the behavior of our elected officials, because they operate under laws made on our behalf and with our tacit approval.

    So yes, let's reform the system. Let's stop the daft claims. Let's make the people involved accountable. However, let's not punish them for claiming expenses to which they were legally (if not morally) entitled, unless we're also willing to accept responsibility for allowing this gravy train to roll on for decades because we were too busy voting on our own wallets behalf.

  • Comment number 89.

    What do MPs keep saying ...."I didn't come in to politics to make money" or "It was an error" or "I have not broken any house rules"

    Is if so hard to change a system that is not working ?
    Yes it is if you are making money out of it,and you control the system.
    Just one word describes the actions of our elected officials .....GREED!
    This is just the tip of the ice berg.
    Heads will roll!!!!

  • Comment number 90.

    Mark_bxl #75
    after all we cannot replace the entire political class

    Cant we?

    Why not?

    It has been replaced before (by Oliver Cromwell), so what would be different this time?

    I agree with what you say about the extreme parties - the betrayal of certain MP's goes much further than simply taking public money. With all parties having dirty hands the only winners will be parties like the BNP as voters turn away from those they trusted to represent them and run into the waiting arms of the right wing parties.

    On the bright side however - at least the French are getting their act together. The biggest challenge to the French government is from a recently unemployed electrician who is representing the countless number of people who have been cut loose by failing businesses at the first sign of a slow down.

    Vive La France! - at least they still know how to stick together in times of crisis - unlike the rats from this country who are so used to selfish Capitalism they adopt an 'everyman for himself' attitude by threatening to evacuate the country at the first threat of taxes having to go up to pay for the mess they were instrumental in creating - the swines.

  • Comment number 91.

    Im sorry, but i don't think the tax rules on expenses is the issue. Overnight expenses would not incurr a tax bill for anybody where the expenses and wholly exclusively and necessarily in the proper performance of the duties of employment, its no scandle that NECESSARY expenses for the performance of elected MP's duites are treated the same.

    The issues is that it seems over half of elected MP's cannot be trusted to exercise any kind of self control and treat spending the maximum of tax payers monies they can, in self interest, as a perk.

    I have regularly travelled all over the country and keep a list of good value hotels, travel lodges and even b&b's in order to keep costs down out of simple curtosy to whoever is paying my bills at the time.

    Please don't tell me the system has to be abused for MP's to turn up to do their duty. This is a further insult to the hardworking british public who do not fiddle their expenses, at least to such outlandish affect.

    If claims have been submitted for mortgages that have been paid off etc, then this is downright criminality. I would suspect £16k of false claims against an employer would lead to a custodial sentence

    Are our MPs not to be punished any more than our bankers have been?


  • Comment number 92.

    Is it worth voting now? What's the point of sending weak and corrupt numpty's to a weak and corrupt Parliament. Think I'll recycle my ballot paper to my toilet.

  • Comment number 93.

    Exactly what I've been writing for days now on several newspaper web forums, Robert.

    It is not enough to repay now what should have been paid in CGT or IT. A deliberate plan to evade paying taxes to HMRC has been in the minds of a great number of our MP's. Paying back what is owed is not enough. Fines and/or criminal charges must follow. That is what would happen if the man on the Clapham omnibus evaded tax, and that is what should happen to our MP's. If any are found guilty by a Court, they lose their seat.

    It is rather galling that these people have produced advertising campaigns and made public condemnations of benefit or income tax/vat cheats and then make your average vat cheating tradesman or benefit scrounger look like small beer.

  • Comment number 94.

    #84 GrimupNorth

    I completely agree - the defence of "I'm so stupid I don't know what I'm doing" is unacceptable from people who have been selected to perform the most challenging and difficult task in the country.

    I wonder if that will be the same defence the treasury ministers adopt?

    Then next year we'll have Darling saying "sorry those growth figures I gave in my budget last year turned out to be grossly optimistic - it was a mistake and I promise I'll pay back the 175 BILLION I owe for that little whoopsie" (assuming that's what it wil be by then)

  • Comment number 95.

    One fact not considered here is that from a financial point of view it's better for the MP's to keep 60% of something and pay the tax than 100% of nothing.
    I'm never really sure why people sometimes think it's better to earn nothing to not pay any tax rather than earn an extra £10 and keep £6 of it.
    Bizarre.
    This is of course completely ignoring whether or not they should have received the money in the first place!

  • Comment number 96.

    There is a great opportunity here, and not for MPs, we have the chance to clear out more than just House of Commons (I await the revelations from the Lords, and why not Brussels and Strasbourg?), as mentioned in previous posts, Quangos are the modern equivalent of Patronage and need to be completely overhauled, we also need to address even worse hypocrisy of the Employment Laws, where to look good MPs shout about protecxting workers with Employment Laws, then encourage short term contracts and agency workers so that Companies can effectively bypass the said laws. In fact even when they claim to be addressing the imbalance of Power between employed and employer with legislation like IR35, they in fact oppress the disguised employee not the diguised employer. It is time we 'little' people were given a great deal more freedom over our lives, and now maybe is the time to demand it.

  • Comment number 97.

    As Robert has highlighted, the revelations regarding the expenses have highlighted that those MPs involved, and probably others, are tax evading. It is a crimnal offence.
    Many of the instances are fraud too, another criminal offence.
    Those cases which fall into these categories, as with any other indivdual committing a crime that has been aired in the public domain should suffer the consequences of committing a crime.
    Whilst the basis of the expenses claimed is under review, there clearly should be an alignment of the House's procedure with what is required for the claims to not be taxed under the Tax Acts.
    My suggestion is that one of the many disused buildings in London, perhaps in Lambeth, just over the river from Westminster and in need of development, is converted into a MPs dormetory/hostel. At the dorm., MPs get a convent style simple room for over-night stays and have dinner ladies supply lunches and dinners for them (to the standard at which children have their lunches supplied at schools, e.g. £1 a pop). those who cannot make the 15 min. walk to westminster/whitehall can take advantage of a shuttle mini-bus service. All this would be fit all their NECESSARY requirements at a fraction of the cost they now impose. Spare rooms at the MP's dorms could be made available to the public, and the new institution may even turn a profit.

  • Comment number 98.

    #88 spotland_insider

    I disagree with your analysis of attitudes towards expenses, I had a job previously where I had to travel a lot and stay away from home on occasions. I didnt claim for every last thing I could have because many items were in the grey area not strictly for me to do my job, and as I am not a greedy man I did not claim for them. Its like the Home secretarys phone bill she put the whole bill in including TV and everything when I did my phone expenses I highlighted the business calls and only claimed for them personal calls were not claimed for. This is how Jackie messed up with the porno movie and I dont know anyone who can get away with claiming their TV package as part of their business calls at any private sector company.

    Your attitude to who you vote for (who will tax me least, who will provide my child with the best education) is certainly NOT how I decide my vote. I think this reveals more about your attitude than any other voter.

    The reason expenses were not a big issue at the last election is because NOBODY KNEW ABOUT THEM. Did you not see the lengths the MPs went to in order to keep this information private? Did you not see them at the High court last year wasting more taxpayers money in an effort to keep their dirty little secret safe.

    I agree they are not on the same level as a dictator but then if they were neither you nor I would be having the freedom to say what we are now based on the facts coming out a freedom they tried to prevent.

    You also elude to the fact that ordinary people can simply change the rules of the job well I dont know where you work but in my experience this is a benefit only MPs bestow upon themselves. The rest of us are threatened with sacking or discipline should we be caught fiddling expenses as will the Scotland yard detectives will if they are found guilty of the charges they face. More interestingly their claims were a lot smaller than MPs in general but they are being treated as the public would expect.

    I completely agree that no crime has been committed (leaving aside tax evasion issues) but how can you put the development and future of your country so readily in the hands of people who have been proven to be misguided in their morality.

    I dont think anyone disagrees with the suggested reform of the system, but when so many MPs openly abused it what faith do the public have that it will be reformed in a way that stops the abuse of public money? Its all well and good MPs calling for reform now they have had 30 years of this system and I did not hear a single MP crying out for the reform of the system in those 30 years. The closest was Betty Boothroyd speaker at the time who was quickly quashed by the clear majority of MPs who decide reform was not in their interests.

    You sleep with the snakes you will get bitten.

  • Comment number 99.

    Our MPs have ripped off the public to line there own pockets and all the talking in the world is not going to make a blind bit of difference.

    These MPs are not just crooked but an embarrassment to our country.

    Is it just me or is anybody else reminded of the court of king louis XV1.

    "The ruling classes living in opulence whilst others died of starvation. This was due to bad economics, fighting wars, high unemployment and widespread disease and famine.The bad economic condition of France during this time was exacerbated by the fact that nobles and clergy were considered exempt from the taxes and levys placed on its already heavily burdened population." sound familiar?

    MPs get a minimum wage of £30 an hour and claim it isn't enough. Yet these same people set out rules for a minimum wage of less than £6 an hour for the general public.(5 times less)!
    This minimum wage is about £1.50 an hour less than the poverty line of £7.50 an hour!
    How can anyone justify this?
    Unfortunately there will be no revolution in our green and pleasant land! We are far to honourable for that. Which is more than can be said of the so-called honourable members.
    Bring back Madam Guillotine!

  • Comment number 100.

    No45-bimth
    You may want to reflect on the fact that it was the electorate that decided to elect a majority of Labour MPs at the last three general elections.Most students of politics will regard your suggestion that they are a socialist party as laughable.Have you ever thought that it may be the nature of the economic system that is fundamentally corrupt rather than heaping blame on those that occupy ministerial cars from time to time?Try and have a word with Lord Black, Dame Shirley Porter, Goodwin and the numerous corporate gangsters that have polluted our economic and political system particularly during the last 30 years, they will help you to clarify your thoughts.

 

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