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Parliament's reputation brought low

Nick Robinson | 18:08 UK time, Friday, 8 May 2009

The fate of nations, of monarchs and of the British people have been sealed in the Commons.

Yet now the reputation of the mother of all parliaments has been brought low by rules written and exploited here by claims for a kitkat, a tin of pet food and a bottle of shampoo... for TVs, furnishings and mortgages for the second homes of those who represent us.

Nothing revealed today has been enough to trigger an investigation let alone a resignation. Some of the headlines suggesting wrongdoing do not stand up to close scrutiny.

However, once again there is evidence aplenty of overclaiming; of playing the system to extract every penny possible and of attempts to get the taxpayer to pay for things that almost everyone else would be expected to pay for themselves.

Once again the gap between the reactions of politicians and the public has been stark.

Those whose expenses have been revealed claim either to be following the rules or to have made administrative errors. The prime minister was joined in blaming the system by the leaders of both main opposition parties who know their MPs will be next in the firing line.

What no-one said was sorry. And this on a day when M&S publicly apologised for the somewhat lesser misdemeanour of - charging more for bigger bras

Comments

Page 1 of 7

  • Comment number 1.

    Nick -

    Can you imagine Attlee, or Churchill behaving like this lot - YES or NO ?

  • Comment number 2.

    The more details that come to light regarding Ministers and MPs' expenses, the more surprised I am.

    Although Ministers and MPs enjoy generous tax exemptions (Sections 292 & 293 ITEPA 2003), I am not convinced they are wide enough to cover such things as cleaning, council tax (which is not listed in the Green Book), etc, as it seems unlikely that such expenditure will meet the notoriously narrow "wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred" test. In addition, where Ministers and MPs have overclaimed expenses in "error", they have effectively received a loan from their employer and, if the sum is greater than £5,000, a taxable benefit-in-kind will arise and tax will be payable.

    Therefore, my question is has anyone asked HM Revenue & Customs to comment on the tax position of these expenses/loans?

  • Comment number 3.

    P.S. What guidance did the Fees office staff have to police Ministers and MPs claims under the Green Book, as this does not mention, for example, the John Lewis list?

  • Comment number 4.

    Your colleague Martha Kearney seems to think there could be bi-elections

    How come there is such distance between your views?

    Any news on the arrest of McNulty?

  • Comment number 5.


    Well said Nick, especially the point that no-one is putting their hands up with even a sorry. A point I was making here earlier

    http://theorangepartyblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/lies-damn-lies-and-ministers-expenses.html

    Today's been like watching a car-crash in slow motion. Another fine mess ministers have got themselves into and have only themselves to blame. 

    Sure it will involve other political parties and it's a house of commons matter but this is the cabinet for goodness sake. How can any of them ever look their constituents straight in the eye again?

    Revelations over top Tories would have to be damn damaging to take the heat off Brown and his rotting cabinet and they could well come up clean in comparison

    http://theorangepartyblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/if-camerons-in-clear-browns-dead-duck.html

    If nothing much is raked up, the mud will stick on Brown and his cabinet, signing their death warrant as elections loom ever closer.

    Angry? That's one word for it. I'm sure taxpayers can think of others.

  • Comment number 6.

    Nick
    I am not so sure that there are no resigning issues.

    Maybe I have not looked into the issue enough at present however I do feel that we should ask for starters

    1 Why did Mr Brown have to claim for a cleaner in a flat when his official residence was No 10/11.

    2. Why did Hazel Blears claim for two TVs and 2 Beds for two properties in short order. Surely the original items could have been transported to the new flat. Also why was a second flat needed?

  • Comment number 7.

    To put it bluntly:

    Its time for this low-life, scumbag Prime Minister and government to RESIGN. They have completely lost the trust of the public.

  • Comment number 8.

    I know all MP's will have one 'reason' or another for the claims they have made, but this issue hardly inspires faith in the people we elect to represent our interests. As if the public needed yet another reason to mistrust politicians!

    Unless one party or other has a significantly worse record on this I can't see how this issue will play well for any of the political parties if they've all had their noses in the trough. It appears to have been common practice among some MP's of all party persuasions (again we'll have to see who has been worse)

    What is certain is that the cabinet's expenses will get more attention than anyone elses which does play into the hands of the opposition, however they may not be able to make much of it with their own house to keep in order.

    None of that may matter, as another blow to the government amongst the recent disasters will only keep up the momentum for the opposition.

    There really isn't any good news for the government on the horizon to stop the global runaway train.

    Never mind, a chance to voice our opinion in a months time.

  • Comment number 9.

    Parliament needs bigger bras and we all know why. We also know why it also needs nappies and of course we know what the differnece is between parliament and a hedgehog.

    They're all at it. It has to stop NOW!

    Is there any comment on the 300 plus replies on the post below this? I think every single post says more or less the same thing...bit of a giveaway really.

  • Comment number 10.

    There are dozens of cases for misappropriation of public funds from the Telegraph revelations. Plenty in there that if I was vetting receipts as part of an end of year audit, I would pull up lots of dodgy claims.

    multiple furnishings like the two TV's inside a year, claims for services on THIRD homes such as Mr Brown claimed on his Westminster flat when he was staying in Downing Street, not to mention all manner of items that in no way can pass the argument of "wholly exclusively and necessarily incurred in order to perform ones duty as an MP"

    Plenty of this stuff doesn't stand up to scrutiny even against the present lax ACA rules, so how you can argue it's small beer is beyond me.

    Get a set of MRC auditors to go through the receipts against the green book comparing them across a time range of each MP and I bet you they would find all sorts of contraventions of the code.

  • Comment number 11.

    Nick,

    Brown and his team have been saying all day long that we need the public to have confidence in "the system". In reality, it's not the system that's at fault - it's the shysters who have been manipulating the system who are the problem.

    No matter what new "system" is put in place, how are we going to have confidence in this lot ever again?

    Two expensive televisions in one year for Hazel Blears, both paid for by us?

    You really couldn't make it up!

  • Comment number 12.

    The reputation of Parliament is so low it should be given a State Funeral. Reading about the craven cad who recorded and charged for a 5p carrier bag gave me an idea. Concerned citizens (if they even ecist any more) should hold a demonstration wearing carrier bags over their heads. This would indicate our utter distain for the MPs, and also add to media attention which is needed to intensify action and results. No doubt thsi call for action will be censored.

  • Comment number 13.

    Why are all MP's not being investigated for abuse of tax payers money?

  • Comment number 14.

    I'm astonished at your suggestion that there has been no wrong doing.

    The expenses are supposed to be wholly, exclusively and necessarily required to perform the duties of an MP. Mock Tudor beams for John Prescott? TVs for Blears? Kitchen sink et al for Jacqui Smith? How are they 'exclusively' for an MPs duties? There is clearly at least a dual purpose.

    I'm ex Tax Inspector, current tax advisor and I know the tax cases that have gone to law on that phrase and the strict interpretation handed down by the courts.

    You know a lot about cosying up to politicians, Nick but you know nothing about how the law is interpreted for 'normal' people and trampled on by MPs. Perhaps you shouldn't comment on this issue until you redress that balance.

  • Comment number 15.

    How low can the reputation of Parliament sink? There were payments to be made to rodent and pest control companies. The money was obviously wasted as the ptoperties are still infested!

  • Comment number 16.

    As usual when something like this comes up, our resident government-supporters scuffle away until things quieten down a little.

  • Comment number 17.

    Nick, methinks that you are perhaps being a bit soft on these serial spongers who hide behind parliamentary privalidge under the guise of being an MP. They are all at it and the average person in the street is appalled at the brazen attitude being displayed. The all need to be severly castigated or something with like that with a similar spelling and Nick you should be in the fore front calling for this.

  • Comment number 18.

    Just going to the Pub for my small beer.

    The claim is in the post!

  • Comment number 19.

    Despite cases of Tory and Lib Dem MPs with snouts in the trough this must be more damaging for Labour as for the past 12 years they are the only ones who have have had the majority to reform the system!

    Nick as I recall you were the one on Radio 4 a few months back saying MPs deserved these costs as pay rises are politically costly. Not sticking to that line any more, sometimes I wonder if your script is written in Number 10.

  • Comment number 20.

    Poweromics = People use position and power for their own personal gain, based on poor moral values, self interest and greed.

    ... Who pays the price ... honest, hard-working people. Who profits ... those in positions of power ... until hard-working people take responsibility and realise the internet has afforded them far more power than they have ever had before. The internet will change everything, including 'power', 'politics', and 'economics'.

    Does Politics = Poweromics at the moment?

    Pretty obvious really. Will it change for the better yet? Will turkeys vote for Christmas? - I think not, but the abuse of position/power is now clear to see by all. It will still go largely unchecked until more hard-working people take responsibility and ensure this type of behaviour is systematically removed. Will people in positions of power milk the system as much as possible until this happens - absolutely.

    Any Politician like to step forward and comment, bringing their salaries, receipts, second jobs, future career plans etc with them?

  • Comment number 21.

    There must be thousands of things that are still technically legal in the UK that are morally repugnant.

    Going out on a limb here so bear with me....

    Suppose they make rape within marriage legal. Is it OK for me to say Well I haven't broken any laws. Or am I morally repugnant although "entitled"

    Or do you have to have some "Moral Compass" to know the difference between right and wrong not just what is "legal". I choose the words "Moral compass" carefully.

    As a US policeman once said to jeremy Clarkson "You don't need common sense when you have laws".

    Just because loopholes exist doesn't mean that you have to run to the trough to exploit all of them for maximum gain at OUR expense.

    If a starving man steals a loaf of bread he is more deserving than already extremely rich people trying to steal even more.

  • Comment number 22.

    Well Nick, looks like you have misjudged the publics reaction to this. Could it be that you are so close to the politbureau that if you said anything they didn't like, they wouldn't let you on Gordons plane again?

    You were much more independent when you were on ITV, before you got neutered as part of the deal when you transferred to the independent beeb! Don't expect to see this one make the blog!

  • Comment number 23.

    Nick,

    Todays news HAS triggered an investigation: the disingenuous one brought by the speaker's office to trace the source of the leaked allowances. An investigation about leaked documents that will be in the public domain in three months time anyway. That must be some feat, to be able to drag Parliament into even further disrepute, because to me launching such an investigation looks like sour grapes.

    As I said in the comments to your earlier blog, MPs won't resign because they are within the rules and don't see they've done anything wrong. In fact they are in the main very upset to be tarred as greedy troughing pigs, because they didn't take the full allowances the rules they were told by civil servants they were allowed.

    Until MPs understand that even though the allowance is there, taking the money under pretty spurious circumstances is wrong. For example, I'd love to hear how John Prescott can connect his mock tudor beams with performing his duties as an MP.

    I for one suspect he (and all the others mentioned today and in subsequent days) won't be able to justify these and similar purchases as helping in their Parliamentary duties.

    Thats where the problem for MPs lies.

    Maybe we should write a letter to the Queeen asking her to dissolve Parliament early. I'm sure if enough of us asked nicely, she'd oblige in ridding us of this den of iniquity.

  • Comment number 24.

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

  • Comment number 25.

    Nick, most disappointed you didn't slip "kleptocracy" into your blog as I had suggested, go on, give it a go.

  • Comment number 26.

    corruptfred (22) - is the BBC involved in a little Poweromics (post 20) itself perhaps? Surely not?

  • Comment number 27.

    You don't read these posts do you Nick. The court of public opinion has spoken but you continue to defend these low lives. Perhaps someone can tell me how us, the general public, can make a complaint to HMRC and get these unlawful claims which have been repaid referred for possible prosecution, because you can bet your bottom dollar if it were me or you they would be. If I falsely claimed anything I wouldn't be allowed to repay it and get away with it, why should they? Simply saying I was too busy to concentrate on what I was claiming is no defence. For goodness sake the Justice Secretary claimed 50% more in Council tax!!! That's right the Justice Secretary!!

  • Comment number 28.

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

  • Comment number 29.

    Nick, you say:

    "Nothing revealed today has been enough to trigger an investigation let alone a resignation. Some of the headlines suggesting wrongdoing do not stand up to close scrutiny."

    ===

    What about the "flipping" of second home claims for maximum pecuniary advantage. What about Ministers getting the taxpayer to pay for their Stamp Duty on property transactions?

  • Comment number 30.

    Geoff "Hoon" Hoon has amassed a property portfolio worth £1.7M entirely thanks to the taxpayer, but you insist that British politicians don't get rich...
    Nick, you need a much, much longer spoon. You're part of the problem.

  • Comment number 31.

    I was "very busy at the time"

    The Justice Minister setting a fine example to us all.

    Will my local Police be so very understanding when I forget to tax/insure the car? Of course not. I'm just an average Joe paying my taxes so my rights are minimal.

    What should I do at the next election? None of the above.

  • Comment number 32.

    Typical of Brown and his fag-end government, call in the police to investigate a leak. If they find the perpetrator, he/she should be given a medal and a pension.

    Only the other week, Margaret Heywood was struck off by the Nursing and Midwifery Council for whistleblowing the dreadful treatment which elderly people are getting at some (if not most) NHS hospitals.

    These corrupt politicians should be sacked and jailed.

  • Comment number 33.

    "Nothing revealed today has been enough to trigger an investigation let alone a resignation. Some of the headlines suggesting wrongdoing do not stand up to close scrutiny."

    I have to say that is a comment that could only come from someone fairly close to the Westminster scene.

    There appear to be dozens of claims (approved by apparently complicit "authorities") that can in no way be related "wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred" to enable an MP to perform his or her duties.

    It beggars belief that (for example) using tax-payers' money to clean a swimming pool can be relevant to performing as the elected representative of the people.

    If House of Commons authorities call in the police to investigate a perceived criminal leaking of information ruled by a judge to be public interest information, they should ALSO call in the Fraud Office to determine whether money has been fraudulently taken from the public purse, plus HMRC to investigate whether the rules agreed and managed by this club (and payments made to its members) are executed in keeping with existing laws.

    If an MP declares a property to be a "second home" for purposes of claiming generous allowances, but declares it as a primary home for the purposes of avoiding Capital Gains Tax, that member is lying either to his employers (US) or to the Tax Man.

    It seems totally legitimate that MPs should have a "second home" where required in order to perform services. I can't see how buying lampshades or patio heaters can be deemed as "requirements"...

    I simply do not understand why there has been no test case brought by HMRC to test whether the interpretation of the rules - and consequent payments) have been legal.



  • Comment number 34.

    My despair and anger grows by the minute

    I have just listened with growing incredulity to Hazel Blears and Harriet Harman on Channel 4 news. Harman speaks of the allowance system as if she and her colleagues are neither the architects nor the abusers of it. Ms Blears who has moved 3 times in one years and whose expenses seem to rise dramatically each March near the closing date for claims justifies this because they were modest one bedroom flats. She parroted the usual government line that this was allowed within the rules and the system which of course MPs themselves constructed. They are the same MPs and government who consistently refused and tried every legal trick in the book to stop the release of any information until a member of the electorate used FOIs to out them. Where is the moral leadership, where is the adherence to Nolan principles and where are their consciences? They have at best been caught using the allowance system in an elastic way and at worse taking the concept of white collar crime into a totally new sphere.

    I am particularly ashamed as a life long Labour supporter to have to tolerate this debacle on a day when 2000 jobs are lost on Teeside and four brave soldiers die in Afghanistan. For those MPs who say that the publication of this information undermines parliamentary democracy I say in return get your snouts out of the trough and do something to restore confidence in an institution which today is little more than a national joke. Brown, Prescott, Straw, Murphy and the whole cabal should hang their heads in shame and the other parties will also have their day. Indeed they might as well publish the whole lot now and get this tawdry and depressing episode out of the way without prolonging the pain. I always thought that the great virtue of British political system was its integrity; what a fool I have been. More importantly I shall never again vote for Labour until this worthless government under Browns pathetic leadership comes to an end. Representative democracy is too important to be left to people who think that the public should pay for their toilet seats. They must think that the electorate are stupid, gullible and beneath contempt. Quite why the police are investigating the leak of the information and not its substance is a mystery.

  • Comment number 35.

    Nick,

    I dont think saying sorry will make any difference anymore.

    You say sorry to someone for accidently bumping into them in the street, not for systematically screwing what you can within the rules of parliamentary expenses.

    For that you have to first resign, then say sorry, nothing else cuts the mustard for people who would have us believe that they are selfless 'public servants' in the job to 'help hard working families and small business'.

    Exactly how many of our standard bearer public servant politicians resigned over being 'clever' with expenses rules.?

    NONE

    They prefer to hide like cowards behind the exact wording of 'the rules'.

    The currency of all politicians is the lowest I can ever recall, the labour party have dragged the whole institution down with them. Only the lib dems seem to be left with a shred of integrity and honesty of action intact.

    Talk to the 'man in the street' everybody is sick to death of them, there is no ideology to vote for no passion, no alternative vision, just a hobsons choice between the charisma of the leaders.

    I wish something compelling and fresh and decent would come along and sweep this lot away, even that is hard to imagine. The incumbents on both sides have learnt the system so well now alternative views never get a serious look in the media unless you dress up as superman and strap yourself to big ben...then and only then do you get coverage but in the process lose mainstream credibility.

    Done for by creeping complicity and lack of vision, what ever happened to building jerusalem in Englands green and pleasant land after WW2?.

    Now all we aspire to build is shopping malls, casinos and cafe bars.

    Worse than that we are now getting set up by the incumbents to line their pockets for one final time before the big crash.

    Investors take note, banks will offer you 3.5% interest so long as you sign up for 1, 2 or 3 years. They know and are actively lobbying for the conditions such that next year interest rates will be on the climb again in a big way and hey guess who will be creaming off all the profits and bonuses on your savings locked in at 3.5% ????

    Yet noboddy does a god dam thing about it, not the BBC not the newspapers, not anyone, they are all part of the same club.

    We used to be able to rely on the BBC at least until Alaister Campbell cynically and systematically pulled out all their free spririted journalistic teeth for their 'weapons of mass destruction' governmental deception. How many weapons did they find again? How many links to Al queda did they find again??

    Why arn't more people angry, why arn't journalists furious with governments and bankers?

    Are we all so wrapped up in surfing the net,saving for pensions that will be worth nothing and trying to achieve the impossible of staying young and rich forever to bother building something sustainable and beautiful?

    I was in Edinburgh this week, we are not even capable of building the beautiful architecture you can see there now, all we can build is cheap and nasty looking pre-fab glass and steel edifices that look rusty, dated and dirty within a few years. Where is the magnificence in society?

    For goodness sake wake UP!!!

    Why do I bother.

    We will carry on like this until a crisis forces us to change. No point in pointing out the obvious it seems, the only thing that will get people off thier backsides will be when mass uneployment or worse directly influenses a critical mass of people.

    Unfortunately due to our technology and effciency that threshold will be very high in the modern world, if people can claim benefits and still eat and have broadband and a crate of high strengh lager a week nothing will happen, except of course noboddy will have any real pleasure in existing.

    Rant over, nobody ever does anything anyway, im just p****** into the wind.


    Jericoa









  • Comment number 36.

    It's been said before but worth repeating. Abiding by the rules is NO DEFENCE when you write your own rules which let you get away with anything! History is littered with governments who change the rules to suit their own ends. Luckily we live in a democracy and we have the opportunity to kick them out. That day can't come soon enough for most of us

    How ironic is it that the most dictatorial, self serving, smarmy, disconnected, war mongering, disingenuous and right wing governments we have ever had turns out to be a Labour one. Party of the people (if the people happen to be in the club)

  • Comment number 37.

    At least Sir Fred Goodwin was up-front about his perks!!

  • Comment number 38.

    I wonder if you would be decent enough to end an arguement and settle a bet, Have you ever had a free lunch from any Member of Parliament and if so did they pay for it or the Taxpayer?.
    I myself wouldnt imagine for a moment that an honest man would sit at the same table.

  • Comment number 39.

    It really is typical that the police are called in to investigate just because the Cabinet got caught out early without time to prepare their excuses. Shoot the messenger and forget the miscreants.

  • Comment number 40.

    The system is to blame? God damn the lot of them who has uttered that phrase, damn very MP who has claimed 'within the rules' while immorally rooking money for Tudor beams, catfood and property portfolios out of the taxpayer.

    And you, the Westminster media, bless you, have colluded in this. I worked in Westminster and know that there are those open secrets that are widely known known by MPs, staff and journalists because in many cases what goes on in the Palace of Westminster stays in the Palace of Westminster. Until the pack turns.

  • Comment number 41.

    We just had a vote in our house that we aren't going to pay our council tax or TV licence. When we are taken to court will the defence "I was abiding by the rules that I set myself" stand up?

    This is no more ludicrous than the excuses being churned out by or so-called representatives. Take away all of the property purchased with taxpayers money and sell it, they can't complain because it ISN'T THEIRS.

    The money raised should be returned to the treasury so they can bail out some more banks - of course.

  • Comment number 42.

    the posts on this blog are only as good as the people who type them, the system of expenses is only as good as the people who abuse it.....Harriet Harman was a disgrace today on R4 trying to blame the system then the fees office for everything......like many on this blog words can't express how much contempt I feel for these MP's

  • Comment number 43.

    MPs it seems have taken over from Estate Agents as being the most hated profession. It's going to take an awful lot for them to regain our respect.

  • Comment number 44.

    You're coming close to the heart of it, Nick. This whole sorry mess is about a lack of principles - ignore the rules, they are simply a red herring. The question is whether or not MPs behaviour lives up to the levels of trust, responsibility, and, yes, moral rectitude, we should be entitled to expect from those who purport to serve the nation?

    Brown et al with their insistence on changing the rules or the process are making the same mistake that the banks did. Don't ask "is this within the rules", but rather "is this right"?

  • Comment number 45.

    Small Beer - he says Small Beer....

    Why would the Daily Telegraph lead with a Major scalp.... ? Their scoop today was they have hold of the expenses, and researching them and this is the first taster....

    Its gonna be long month of drip drip and they lead up to major issues and concerns.

    If they went big day 1 - theres nothing for day 20, 30, 50 and 60!!!!!

    Watch this space...

    Small beer - lol - Nick really misses the point

    Journos should be scalping the cabinet

  • Comment number 46.

    What with John 'two bogs' Prescott and Hazel 'Smears my domicile' Blears followed by Harriet and Mr. Bell all denying any wrong doing ' because it was ok at the time' how can we have any respect for this institution . On news 24 this morning Mr. Bell admitted to the interviewer ( I wish I knew her name ) and repeated it to John Snow ( channel 4) that it was only because of the demands under the FOI that this has been publicised . They would have much rather it been kept quiet . Obviously the Guardian are going to milk this for all it's worth by putting bits out at a time ( newspapers to sell!) . What will happen when the opposition expenses are published heaven only knows - but this is a classic case of who guards the guards ?. This sanctity of MP's addresses is a smoke screen , without this knowledge the pieces of paper to be published would be meaningless - who did what with what and to where?. The most depressing thing is that the only people who can redress the situation are those who developed it in the first place and have appeared to have subsequently abused it for personal gain. Jack Straw said he was under pressure and made mistakes - I personally would prefer the highest offices of this country to be occupied by those who can work and think clearly under pressure , thereby eliminating errors .

  • Comment number 47.

    I think that there has been mention of Geoff Hoon amassing a £1.7m property portfolio. Can someone analyse all the Cabinet members property dealings over the last 12 years - how many have been bought and sold? - how many have been transferred between first/second homes to escape CGT? - how many have had renovations paid for by the tax payer? - what profit has been amassed through the transactions? how many ministers have claimed for properties when occupying grace and favour facilities?
    And hopefully how much their house values have shrunk because of the recession, just like the rest of us? Many people have worked hard to get on the property ladder and benefit from hours of work of renovation. Only the taxpayer hasn't financed all the work just like with MPs. It's a scandal made worse by the contemptuous response from ministers today.

  • Comment number 48.

    #35 Jericoa

    I agree with you wholeheartedly. I'm afraid we're all p******g in the wind here. As Al Murray said, "This is Great Britain, it would be amazing Britain if it wasn't for people like you bringing the average down". If he wasn't talking about MP's he should have been.

    This will be my last post on the BBC, I'm fed up with the political hacks here failing to hold HMG to account, give me an interview with GB, mind you we wouldn't get far, I'd keep asking the first question until I got a straight answer, not good TV eh. Enjoy your jaunts on Brown Force One Nick, I expect there will be a few more on Browns farewell world tour before the next election.

  • Comment number 49.

    To Jeroica #35

    said with passion and well said.

    The "critical mass" you talk of might or might not happen but you can be damn sure that if it does Government will have all sorts of anti-terrorist powers to stop any demonstrations. This is why the Nothing to hide nothing to fear lobby are so stupidly naive. They imagine that this lot won't change the laws to suit their own needs so what was legal and decent is now not because "They say so". Would you have believed 15 years ago that an elderly couple would be interviewed by police for 5 hours because they asked for Christian leaflets to be placed in a library next to or in place of "Homosexual advocation leaflets".
    Them's the rules now because the leaders have said so.

    behind all of this expenses shenanigans is one overiding point and you can see it in expenses, behaviours and laws passed.

    Our elected politicians see themselves as our "Rulers" and not our "Servants" which is why they think Tax rules do not apply to them. surely if Glaxo or Barclays carried on like this HMRC would be down on them like a tonne of bricks with prosecutions and jail sentences involved.

    Johnathan Aitken must rue the fact he was 15 years to early into politics, he would be a model MP now

  • Comment number 50.

    Nick Robinson says (on the BBC 24h News @2110) regarding the expenses controversy, and the hotel where Mrs Blears resided, "heaven will be a let down after this".

    wonderful. thank you.

  • Comment number 51.

    It is not acknowledged that the Tory supporting paper The Daily Telegraph has carefully constructed it's release of the mps' expense claims. By the time that the Tory and Lib Dem expenses are released we will be too exhausted by hubris to comment. Go on - shout down the government, but thanks to Tory cash at the Telegraph you are all railing too, far too, soon. Silly people, you have bought a pup.

  • Comment number 52.

    Nick
    The PMs claims for cleaning (c. £6,500) are half my annual salary as a music teacher with two degrees. I know people with far less and far more salary than me. Nearly everyone I know does their own cleaning: those who don't, pay others out of their own salary. What on earth is the PM thinking and more importantly what are the expenses officials thinking to consider domestic cleaning as a valid claim..let alone the other things. Small beer - I think not!
    Karen Mutch

  • Comment number 53.

    Yes, MP's have to live in two places. Why not build an apartment block (or two, or three) within walking distance of Parliament, with enough full-service, small apartments for each and every MP. Student residence standard should be more than adequate. When they have to overnight in London, they can stay in their earmarked flat, for free. The rest of their days they can live in their own homes/flats, where ever these may be (presumably in their constituencies). That would eliminate the whole second home expenses problem.
    Second point: Since the EU makes about 80% of our laws anyway, do we really need all these free-loaders? How about halving the total of MP's, just as a start?

  • Comment number 54.

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

  • Comment number 55.

    Nick

    "And this on a day when M&S publicly apologised for the somewhat lesser misdemeanour of - charging more for bigger bras".

    Ironic timing - since both parliament and big bras seem to contain much the same thing these days.

  • Comment number 56.

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

  • Comment number 57.

    I think I'm getting a handle on this now. We have watched from the sidelines as the Government has put the country into a massive amount of debt that will take a generation to pay off. We should be angry about that, but we can't be, it was done for our "good".

    We have also watched the banks laugh at us by taking our money and throwing it away - again we have had to stump up billions to prop up these institutions. We should be angry, but we can't be, it was done for our "good".

    We have watched the bad news as the recession has hit, people losing jobs, businesses failing. We should be angry, but we can't be because we had our money spent on our behalf through a Fiscal Stimulus to lessen the blow - for our good.

    I think we have all had a nagging feeling at the back of our heads that the government has been profligate in its use of our money, but we had no real evidence of it, no one to point a finger at.

    Now, almost by accident, we can see for ourselves that the government has been profligate and inconsiderate in the way it uses public money for their own petty reasons - perhaps it is in a small way - but it illustrates an attitude that because the MPs can take public money because it is freely available to them, then they have done so without regard to the consequences of being found out.

    For once we can be angry at what we see. For once we can be angry at the "It had nothing to do with me" attitude that is so prevalent. For once we can be angry that these priviledged few have become untouchable, irresponsible, careless.

    I think we are overly angry at the issue of MPs expenses. But I think we are not angry enough about what it actually means - that this government has its hands so deep in our pockets that it thinks the pockets are theirs and not ours.

    I think the attitude also illustrates the contempt the government holds the public in. We can be told anything and have anything kept from us, just as long as we do not question the wisdom. Clearly they think that common sense no longer has value, that a "rule" will somehow make any action "right" - but it does not. I then feel angry that the government and in particular its individual ministers should hold me in such contempt.

    We do no wrong by doing nothing when we see a burglar walk into a neighbour's open house and remove goods. But many of us would think that to do nothing is indeed wrong - and of course morally it is. So I think we have raised the alarm, and the lack of a bolt on the door does not mean it was ever right for the burglars to help themselves to whatever they could carry off, because their burglar's handbook said it was OK.

    So let's be angry - it seems right to be so.

  • Comment number 58.

    What about "Let them eat cake" don't you understand. Just because there is a global economic crisis doesn't mean the ruling class should suffer. The distance between government and the governed is about where it was when James lost his head. Here's hoping.

  • Comment number 59.

    #57 see #48,#49

    Well at least i got 2 people angry..its a start...afew million to go and somethin g may happen..

  • Comment number 60.

    The so called "rules defence" is not a defence.

    The rules just state the MAXIMUM that can be claimed.

    These MPs need to explain why they thought it DECENT to make their claims, taking money from taxpayers who are mostly much poorer than they are.

  • Comment number 61.

    As usual in these situations, documents released to clarify situations suceed only in raising more questions than thay answer. Gorden Browns Cleaning 'contract' released by Number 10 today is a very curious document.

    1. Firstly most people don't have formal contracts of empluyment with their cleaners, but obviously they should, so having gone to the trouble of drawing up such a document, which is supposedly a change to terms of employment, it is curious that it doesn't name one of the parties to the agreement (the cleaner) and is not signed by any party, nor are we given the acceptance of these revised terms.
    2. Assuming all this is above board, the second curious fact is not the change in terms (we don't see the original terms) but the resultant amounts. A rise from £350 a month, a nice round figure, to £357.15 a month. a figure more appropriate to accountants than a salary cheque. Why not £357 or £358 or even push the boat out to £380? Playing around with the figures I can't find any rythme or reason for this figure (Not a round hourly rate for instance, but co-incidently £357.15*7/10 does = £250.0002 significantly the threshold for reciepts!).
    3. Then we get the fact that Gorden Brown claims for £241.30 a month (Jan to mar 06) which isn't 7/10ths of either £350 or £357.15 so is the financial split not pro rata?
    4. In their release this morning we were assured that National Insurance was paid, so if the cleaner was directly employed, this must be on top of the £357.15 a month making Gordens proportion even smaller. Did his brother actually pay this? If employed through an agency why was the letter not to the agency?
    5. A final anomoly is that both brothers are married and yet they didn't split the time evenly, which you might have expected for simplicity . Is Gorden's flat bigger or Sarah more houseproud? Gordens flat is only 1 bedroom so Andrew's would have to be very small.
    6. And finally this assumes that the Cleaner both recieved the money after tax had been paid, and is registered for tax, and that they were eligable to work (a not impossible issue given the number of American politicians who have been tripped up by illegal Mexican domstic staff).

  • Comment number 62.

    #34 Muddywaters

    I am particularly ashamed as a life long Labour supporter to have to tolerate this debacle on a day when 2000 jobs are lost on Teeside and four brave soldiers die in Afghanistan. For those MPs who say that the publication of this information undermines parliamentary democracy I say in return get your snouts out of the trough and do something to restore confidence in an institution which today is little more than a national joke. Brown, Prescott, Straw, Murphy and the whole cabal should hang their heads in shame and the other parties will also have their day. Indeed they might as well publish the whole lot now and get this tawdry and depressing episode out of the way without prolonging the pain. I always thought that the great virtue of British political system was its integrity; what a fool I have been. More importantly I shall never again vote for Labour until this worthless government under Browns pathetic leadership comes to an end. Representative democracy is too important to be left to people who think that the public should pay for their toilet seats. They must think that the electorate are stupid, gullible and beneath contempt. Quite why the police are investigating the leak of the information and not its substance is a mystery.

    =========================================================================

    Unlike you I am a Tory supporter but I am happy to stand with you and support all that you said so eloquently. Why? Because I know my own party MPs have probably shared at the same trough of plenty as well; we shall probably know more over the weekend.

    Even if they were not, I would still stand with you because even if they have been more abstemious, they should not have stood by.

    Party politics should be put on hold until the situation is sorted out. The situation should not be sorted out by New Labour or any of the other parties. I know there are those who talk about the sovreignty of Parliament, but remember it is the Queen who heads it all up. If you told Her Maj to get it done, there would be no messing and it would be done within days. (And to think all those pot kettle Republicans who complained about the 'wealth creating' Queen helping herself to public money - sorry I couldn't help myself).

    Anyway, I have tried to make this point on previous blogs because this scandal is not about cheap political shots; each MP has colluded in this disgraceful behaviour by either troughing it up or standing by and doing nothing.

    And you Nick, you should know better; just read these postings and be a little humbled. We are not interested in your one-sided snipes. If you and the BBC took your role more seriously, you would realise that the whole system is stuffed and needs radical change.

    This is not a time for defending MPs rights to expenses that they think are rightfully theirs under the current rules made up on the trotter by the troughers; nor should anyone be trying to deflect blame from one party to another by saying everyone's as it. Are we meant to feel any better? I don't think so.

    As for the police investigation into the source of the leak, how does this leak differ from any government sponsored leak?

    If the police go in to the Commons as has been suggested, I recommend that on Monday morning, every blogger goes into their local Cop Shop and registers a complaint about the misappropriation of public funds by our MPs and ask for it to be investigated. Present the Telegraph as evidence of prima facie evidence, get a reference and ask them to get back to you with an answer.

    On Monday morning, every blogger should call HMRC and in particular that number the government give out for grassing on tax dodgers; ask to speak to the supervisor to ask them what they are doing to check out any further tax liabilities due from MPs expenses or more accurately benefits in kind. When asked for proof, send them prima facie evidence as presented in the Telegraph. Take a reference number and ask them to get back to you with an answer.

    If all else fails, let me know the date you will be demonstrating because I will stand shoulder to shoulder with you until respectability and democracy is restored and we can return to partisan normality and petty squabbling.

    And let us not forget the soldiers who died in Afghanistan to make our country a better and more secure place for us whilst our leaders fiddled the expenses and lined their pockets to make their lives better and more secure for themselves at the expense of their country.

    It's time for priorities to change!

  • Comment number 63.

    if i made a mistake its a criminal offence if politicians make a mistake its because they are busy one law for them and another for us its not surprising they are for the EU its a bigger gravy train they now they are going to get kicked out and need a job

  • Comment number 64.

    Nick.
    Given just what along the way in everyday eye-watering items that have been claimed as Expenses by most M.P,s', including Second Homes MANY TIMES OVER, along with ALL the Bill's, and REPAIRS, then somehow it is classed as being ALL within "THE RULES" as written and passed by the same People enjoying the STATE BENEFITS of their OWN CLAIMS AND ALLOWANCES.

    SO JUST WHAT DO M.P.s' SPEND THEIR SALARIES IN WAGES ON???, WHILE THEY ARE MILKING A SYSTEM OF CHOICE THAT IS ROTTEN TO THE CORE???.

    Ripping - Off the Tax-Payer is seen as a way of choice of RIGHTS by MOST POLITICIANS while CUTTING BACK ON STATE BENEFITS FOR EVERYONE ELSE.

    Therefore, it is now time for everyone to Vote for Political Parties other than the Labour, Conservative or Lib - Dems in ALL Elections from now onwards, for we now ALL need to be our own AVENGERS.

  • Comment number 65.

    MPs are paid out of tax-payers' money. So is the BBC. You better make sure your expenses are clean, Nick. After MPs, the BBC is next.

  • Comment number 66.

    #59 - Jericoa

    I have a confession to make. I used to get angry and occasionally vent my spleen on this blog but these days, I can only really be bothered if the talk is of wholesale constitutional change, of ridding the poor wretched place of the whole worthless paraphernalia and dispensing with the Union. These days, I focus my attention on Mark Mardell's blog because there, at least, there are still live issues. My anger has been replaced by a deep and abiding sadness. Somebody asked me the other day when I would be returning to the UK and I heard myself saying that I would not be sorry if I never set foot in the place again.

    So I commend you for your anger and urge you to keep on p****ing in the wind. It is probably the only way you will stop them simply taking it.

  • Comment number 67.

    "Parliament's reputation brought low"

    Calling the police to try and shift the blame onto the person who blew the whistle didn't help them either.

    Gordon Brown even claimed for his light bulbs (plus 9grand for a nice new kitchen; hey, nick, no mention of that on the beeb, why's that then?)

    Darling even had the gall to claim over 2grand of tax payer's money to pay his stamp duty tax (and 300 quid a month for food) (using *our* tax money to pay his own tax bill, and claiming expenses for his grocery bill?)

    The list is endless. And to people who work in the private sector, this is absolutely obscene and would be seen as blatant fraud.

    Were they "within the Commons rules?" - probably.

    Were they fleecing the electorate for everything they could, and acting totally unreasonably and unfairly throughout? - definitely.

    Would these kinds of claims be seen as fraud in a court if it had happened in the private sector? - 100% yes. Ignorance, stupidity, and greed, is not a valid defence in court.

  • Comment number 68.

    What not a single one of these MPs has even acknowledged is that if any of us ordinary people were to claim for the things they have, we'd be laughed out of the HR office - and if we were to do some of things these MPs have done with their expenses, we'd be kicked out of the building.

    Hazel Blears for example, we've had no apology from her for doing something that was clearly morally wrong, because it happened to be within the rules. So what they're saying is that it's completely fine to exploit every loophole in sight at the public's expense. And then have a go at those nasty bankers for doing the same thing.

    Labour, Tories, they're all at it. Get rid of the lot of them.

  • Comment number 69.

    Looks like the mods are on overtime removing anything that doesn't sit quite right.

    I just lost #54 for suggesting that Harriet Harman is being disingenuous and most MPs would be in prison if they were operating under the same laws as we have to, the taxman would go nuts if I presented nappies as a valid item for running my business. I know they are the Nanny state but that is ridiculous.


    Just because you don't like it doesn't mean it should be removed.

    Maybe it was modded because I suggested Joanna Lumley should stand against Harman in th enext election...ooops there goes another post to the Mod Bin.

  • Comment number 70.

    #68 bluejam

    wholeheartedly agree. My personal favourite excuse was from Jack Straw who claimed he was too busy at the time when filling out his form to have done it correctly. He wasn't too busy to go back over his claims, realise he'd 'made a mistake' and pay back the money he'd claimed for council tax.

    Like you've pointed out, let the public try telling the inland revenue or any government agency they were too busy to fill out their forms correctly, I think they would call it fraud.

  • Comment number 71.

    I think you're all so unkind to them. They are all obviously trying their little hardest to fight the credit crunch by spending as much as they can. They can't use their own money as that might make them poor.

  • Comment number 72.

    Could someone - maybe an MP or some 'investigative' journalist at the BBC (oh no, forget that) - explain what MPs actually spend their salary on, as the things which ordinary people spend their salaries on seem all to be claimed back by MPs as 'expenses'.

  • Comment number 73.

    Fred Goodwin (aka Fred the Shred) acted within the rules when he took his pension but MPs were outraged and demanded that he was morally obliged to repay it.

    Now MPs and Ministers' responses to the outrageous claims they have submitted - which incidentally they wanted to keep secret - is that they acted within the rules. Will they now repay the amounts claimed or will they just advise us how to spell hypocrites?

  • Comment number 74.

    Getridofgordonnow: not just private sector either- at my echelons of the public sector (can't talk of other echelons)expenses are virtually unheard of...30 year experienced teacher with two degrees. To go to a compulsory course on a non-working day (half pay) travel 60 miles (46 miles petrol only allowance paid) on production of receipt and food (free) 1 round of sandwiches and orange juice...says it all really doesn't it.

  • Comment number 75.

    all political journalists and commentators, MPs as well, are ducking one essential question:

    was it the fees office messing up, or is it the MPs themselves claiming fraudulently?

    i can understand to a degree, claiming from the system to the maximum, but claiming for full council tax (jack straw) knowing that he was only paying 50% council tax for years, has to be fraud?
    brown claiming twice for the same plumbing work, again is fraud is it not?

    whats worrying is how, in the two examples ive given, they obtained receipts to back up their claims?
    an immeadiate criminal investigation needs to be started, into MPs of all parties.

    who gave them back their recipts?
    in jack straw's case, he knowingly provided a full council tax bill - when he was only paying 50% of the bill, how did he get a receipt showing a full amount without his discount? (friends on the local council?)

    in brown's case, if he has submitted the receipt for the work to back his claim, how did he get it back to claim again? is it not held on his expenses file?

    more importantly: why is no media source asking this question?

  • Comment number 76.

    "mother of all parliaments"

    The mother of all parliaments was the English parliament - not this cesspit.

    Some people are saying a pay rise would solve this problem - categorically our representatives do not deserve a pay rise if anything it they deserve a pay cut.

    The time is coming to throw these scoundrels out and start afresh. The Scots have got something right with their own parliament and it's time England had the same.

    English parliament now. A new start.

    English taxes for England.
    English law for England.
    Home rule for England.


  • Comment number 77.

    how does all this sit with the government's argument, regarding fred the shred exploiting the system?

  • Comment number 78.

    Nick said: What no-one said was sorry.

    I think this is perceptive and important. I agree that saying sorry on its own is not sufficient, but at least it's a start. Of course it has to be an apology for an MP's own personal behaviour, and not an apology for the system, which is a way of diffusing blame and avoiding it.

    Several respondents have expressed anger. The trouble with anger is that there are few topics that people can agree what to be angry about, and more importantly what to do about it. MPs expenses is clearly one of the exceptions.

    I'm more angry about the level of debt that this Labour Government is building up. In exchange for a few soundbites we face higher taxes, poorer public services, and a retirement age of 70 (and that's on optimistic forecasts). This is what Labour MPs should say sorry for, personally, sincerely, and deeply.

  • Comment number 79.

    A couple of points

    Can someone tell me who the heck I am supposed to vote for at the next General election?

    and one for you Nick. Why are so few journalists showing true disdain for elected politicians? Are you all so far in the governments pockets that you can't see out or is it nest feathering season?

    Does the gravy train extend to hangers-on as well?

    Hugh Grant for P.M.......Joanna Lumley for Home Secretary, Michael Palin for Foreign and Commonwealth affairs, Carol Vorderman for Children, Schools and Families, Jeremy Clarkson for Transport, Martin Lewis for Chancellor, Jamie Oliver for Environment and Food, although I conceed Hilary Benn is the best of a bad bunch, Dr. Christian Jesson for Health, Simon Weston for Defence, Kirstie Allsopp for Housing and finally Philip Glenister for Chief of the Met.

    Couldn't do a worse job could they? Every one would have Britain's and it's peoples best interests at heart.

  • Comment number 80.

    well it's a sorry saga I must say - MPs ought to have higher standards than your average Joe but it would appear from all this that (with one or two laudable exceptions such as Harriet Harman and Alan Johnson) they do not - just had to be Prescott with the mock Tudor beams, didn't it? - what an embarassment - hey, and we don't even know the Clown details yet! - not sure I want to know, to be honest - bound to be ugly - guess the only silver lining in this particular cloud is it pretty much proves that our politicians (in squeezing the most they can out of the system) are fairly representative of the electorate - but we want more than that, don't we? (I know I do)

  • Comment number 81.

    One of the things that amazes me is how often MPs have to repair and decorate their houses. Most of us out here in the real world can't afford such luxuries and tend to get by as long as we can as long as it's not an emergency.

    Put them all on a south London council estate. It would solve their need for a place in London and introduce them to the real world

    No matter how much they go on about 'not breaking the rules' or 'we know it has to change' you have to question the judgement of people who ever thought this kind of extravagance was justified.

    It's time to clear out the stables and start again - and I include all parties in that.

  • Comment number 82.

    This from The Guardian Website:-

    "The parliamentary authorities reacted to damaging revelations of cabinet and junior ministers cynically exploiting Commons expenses rules by calling in the police to investigate how the details were leaked and by whom".

    Ye Gods, have these wretched people no shame?

  • Comment number 83.

    The orchestrated response seems to be....'blame the rules'.

    I guess ministers etal are saying that the rules were so slack they allowed MPs to cheat and thieve....if the rules had been tighter MPs wouldn't have cheated and thieved because the rules would have prevented them doing so. So blame the rules.

    NOT ONE minister has suggested that any single MP has an ethical issue over this. That speaks volumes about these people.

    The real problem for these people is the cat is out of the bag and with luck an army of investigative journalists are going to start examining these expense claims. profits made, taxes declared, and so on....in great detail.

    Any MP that hasn't milked the system can be upset at being tainted by the behaviour of the others...but hopefully will support fraud investigations where appropriate. I would expect the Revenue people to be as keen on investigating this situation as they are when some small self employed worked can't account...in detail...for every penny expended according to 'the rules'.

  • Comment number 84.

    Some of the headlines suggesting wrongdoing do not stand up to close scrutiny.

    But many of them do nick that is the problem,we the public know who made the rules and they are shown to be shambolic.....whether people broke them or not is immaterial they are only coming out and saying they should be changed after they have been outed.....where were they at 12 months ago too busy filling in claim forms and maximising their take from the publics pocket.

    If the Government thought these rules were ok when when they changed the green book why should we believe that they are competant to run a country.
    Its pathetic you know it i know and so does everyone else the fact they are chasing the whistle blower makes it even more laughable....

    We should see ministers resign over this they are as forever tainted as Peter Mandelson was with his denials over his loans...

    What you havent mentioned Nick is the donations fiasco where people admitted openly that they had given illegal donations and yet again there is no case for them to answer in court....just what do you have to do to be prosecuted for illegal donations ???

  • Comment number 85.

    This is so pertinent (denzil 69 (above)) it is worth posting again...


    "all political journalists and commentators, MPs as well, are ducking one essential question:

    was it the fees office messing up, or is it the MPs themselves claiming fraudulently?

    i can understand to a degree, claiming from the system to the maximum, but claiming for full council tax (jack straw) knowing that he was only paying 50% council tax for years, has to be fraud?
    brown claiming twice for the same plumbing work, again is fraud is it not?

    whats worrying is how, in the two examples ive given, they obtained receipts to back up their claims?
    an immeadiate criminal investigation needs to be started, into MPs of all parties.

    who gave them back their recipts?
    in jack straw's case, he knowingly provided a full council tax bill - when he was only paying 50% of the bill, how did he get a receipt showing a full amount without his discount? (friends on the local council?)

    in brown's case, if he has submitted the receipt for the work to back his claim, how did he get it back to claim again? is it not held on his expenses file?

    more importantly: why is no media source asking this question?"

  • Comment number 86.

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

  • Comment number 87.

    Harriet Harman has been wheeled out all over the media today, but all I have heard her say is that it was "All within the rules"

    That also applied to Fred Goodwin's pension, however excessive it seemed.

    I haven't heard Miss Harman mention her "Court of Public Opinion" today though, does it still sit, Saga?

  • Comment number 88.

    Nick,

    One of the things that you're failing to report on is the fact that these particular expenses are only a tiny proportion of what MPs claim/get.

    Nobody seems to have mentioned things like employing family as their admin staff and the many other "un-expense" aspects that they draw from.

    From what I can see, an MP can easily end up pocketing the equivalent of over 2 million quid gross for a single term in Parliament if they employ their family, claim all the relevant expenses, and use a good accountant and have a good head for business in what they do with the cash that they get.

    These listed expenses are only a tiny proportion of the real money being pocketed. They also don't include things like the Commons restaurant being subsidised by the tax payer.

    If people are angry now, you just wait until they get to see the true figures; I'm sure it's just a question of time before someone analyses it properly and tells the public what's really going on. At the moment the media is missing the biggest parts of the story.

    The point is that if you get elected as an MP for just one Parliamentary term, then if you know what you're doing you're then set for life after the end of that single term. You'd be able to retire after 1 term and never have to work again.

    Remember, these aren't simply tax-deductibles knocked off their taxable income, they're actually paid out as additional cash amounts, so a 10quid payment for these expenses is more like 15quid gross of extra income.

    When you work out the maths for the whole picture, it's absolutely mind boggling how much they get as an equivalent gross income.

  • Comment number 89.

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

  • Comment number 90.

    #76 englandrise

    hopefully issues like this will help people realise the democratic deficit their living under. When do you think this will happen?

    Couldn't believe of all the people Glen Campbell was chosen to 'grill' Mandelson on his expenses. Surprised he didn't just roll over so Mandelson could scratch his tummy for him.

  • Comment number 91.

    (A) How can MPs use the excuse of its within the rules to justify otherwise excessive claims?
    A poorly educated single mother could not claim off the state 100% more than she incurred for an Expense, without appearing in Court.
    She would not be allowed to pay it back to escape punishment 5 years later - just before she was exposed.
    Why can super-intelligent Jack Straw get away with the equivalent act ?

    (B) Can MPs not understand the meaning of the word ADDITIONAL in Additional Cost Allowances?
    You SHOULD NOT claim for the bread & bacon to make a Bacon Sandwich in your MP House, when exactly the same cost would have been incurred if in your own constituency home.
    The same principle applies for claiming Toothpaste.
    The media needs to examine whether there is an equivalent off-setting personal saving, whenever an ADDITIONAL public expense is claimed.

    ( C ) How can MPs use the excuse of its within the rules to justify blatantly immoral acts?
    They seem to expect both Companies & Individuals to act by a higher moral code rather than just
    within the rules when choosing whether to live in the UK or Offshore.
    Yet they believe acting within the rules protects them from acting in a moral way.

  • Comment number 92.

    I think we're making it too hard for any reading politician to understand. Here's how it is (for any MP who might be reading this blog):

    a) Person gets a job
    b) Same person works at job
    c) Same person has taxes deducted from salary
    d) Same person gets pay cheque for remaining pay
    e) Pay cheque pays for food, housing, commute to work or second home near work if living at a distance, pension etc. (i.e. none of this comes from anywhere else, like out of someone else's pocket)

    That's about it.

    There is one rule

    1) Earn money to pay your own way.

    Most of us have grasped that.

    If you get sick or when you get old, then the state will give you a pittance you can't possibly survive on, but until then you're on your own.

  • Comment number 93.

    Sorry, but none of this is news. It's what politicians do. All of them. All the time. Anybody who didn't know that already is living in their own private universe.

    Sill, it's amusing listening to Labour's bully boys and girls squealing when somebody drags them behind the bike sheds and gives them a good kicking.

    The Telegraph probably has enough dirt to keep dripping this stuff out every day from now to the June elections, and if they have any sense of timing, they won't be serving up the real red meat till a lot nearer election day. I'm betting that six grand for a part time cleaner and 25 grand for "security" is just for starters. Come back in a two or three weeks to get the main course....

  • Comment number 94.

    When we're through with MPs expenses and that's going to last for a few more weeks if not months, perhaps we can then start evaluating the useless and pointless expensive quangos, the lobbyists (always available for a bung), the expensive consultants and the expensive focus groups.....

    These leeches live off the public purse paid for by MPs who have no idea of the value of tax payers money.

    It is only when you have to pay for your own bath plugs that you realise 89p is a lot of money.

    And the we should also look at failed organistaions like the FSA whose budget is not answerable to anyone, not even the National Audit Office; and yet they are allowed to finance themselves unchecked by gorging themselves on the companies they purport to regulaste.

    As I have been saying for months, this country is in dire need of someone to step up to the plate. Whoever it is needs to tell their rest of their colleagues in the House that things have got to start changing around Westminster and it's not just expenses. It is the whole institution and authority of Parliament we are talking about here. It is the number of MPs; it is the completed reform of the Lords; it is reform of the Judiciary and the separation of powers of the Attorney General; it is the removal of the debased honours system; it is the reduction or reform of the public sector; it is the de-politicisation of the police force; it is managed border controls; it is eradicating public waste of funds; it is becoming more efficient.

    Harriet, even if you would promise to do the above, you would always have a place in my heart.

    Actually I cannot lie and will not start now.

    But please, someone step up and take the lead so we may follow.

    Too often politicians talk about apathy in the electorate. Perhaps now they are beginning to understand why people are not engaged.

    If they were, many MPs would not be MPs as we know it.....Harriet!

    We are not going to have a civil war or a revolution so all MPs, please respect the tolerance of your citizens, fix the institutions and stop taking the p*ss.

  • Comment number 95.

    Goodnight fellow bloggers, of all political persuasions, and may you dream big dreams on a pillow bought with your own hard earned money and not at the tax payers expense.....

    The boy awoke suddenly and sat up. A cold sweat ran down his face. His Mum, hearing the noise in the bedroom next door, walked towards the bed and put an arm across her son's shoulder.

    She said:

    'Don't worry; you've had a bad dream, a nightmare'. She laid him back on the bed and almost at once, the boy fell into a deep sleep.

    The boy's mother leant over and kissed her son's cool forehead and as she departed the room, she could be heard whispering reassuring words:

    'Good night, son. Sweet dreams. There's nothing to worry about. It's all in the rules'.

  • Comment number 96.

    Now I wonder what on earth ever happened to the Cash for Honours and the question over loans to political parties. Now why am I so not surprised that the government has not gone to the courts to prevent publication of any more details of MPs expenses. Surely it is not the case that they do not want to do anything to prevent the Telegraph from printing what could be negative reports on some other poltical party(s).

    Could anybody tell me what has been gained by the loss of life in Iraq and Afghanistan, surely not so that we can export our representative democracy to those countries. I nearly wrote reprehensible rather than representative but I avoided that mistake. as for your blog Nick, are you and the moderators going to adhere strongly to the rules or are we to have a bit more leaway.

    Finally for tonight, I hope that Gordon Brown does not read out the names of the many dead at next weeks PMQs. I would regard it as an insult, what with Gordon demanding questions which he wants to be asked, or telling us what we already know, that this parliament, this government is shameless. The N.O.T.A. Party demand an election, right here, rightnow, an election.

  • Comment number 97.

    Bring in Joanna Lumley I say....she doesn't take cr*p from these people. It is a real pity the right people don't stand as MPs.

    This is about as bad as it get for UK democracy in my 40 odd yrs of having some interest in the process ( with the possible exception of Thatcher!).

    So depressing.....what has happened to this country...what have we allowed to happen?

  • Comment number 98.

    I have never before felt so incensed. Does anyone know how to complain to the Inland Revenue to make them investigate?

    Can we get some sort of class action going - anyone else up for setting up a fighting fund?

  • Comment number 99.

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

  • Comment number 100.

    I find it almost impossible to explain how angry I am over this travesty. As a public servant, I have to account for any expenses within a very sensible and not generous expenses system that I work under. I put in the receipts (within a week) and most of my claims get audited. If I claimed for something outside my allowance I would be charged with fraud. That noone has been charged only indicates a useless trough, beneficial to only one set of people - it does not indicate honesty, integrity, public-service, loyalty, respect for others in financial difficulty... My anger is intense because what am I to do? They are all the same! They will all be shown to be profiteering cowboys in due course. If you can't find it in yourself to vote for anyone anymore regardless of the value of their policies, then where does it leave democracy in Britain?

 

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