The Houses of Parliament
MPs Expenses: The Moral Dimension
The controversy over MP's expenses rumbles on. What should the moral attitude be to the story? More to the point, should there be a Christian response? Canon David Jennings, Rector of Burbage, has strong views on this matter...
When BBC Leicester's Chris Highton spoke to Canon Jennings there was no doubting the strength of his feelings.
"Of course the church should have a view [on this subject] as should all people of faith and good will.
"What has happened is morally indefensible and it's possibly criminal also...
"The church has to condemn what has happened... But at the same time, because the church wants to be fair and do justice to all, it needs to recognise that not every MP is behaving like this
"There is a risk that you cast doubt on the majority, if it is a majority, on the basis of how a minority actually behave."
Listen: MPs' Expenses and the Church
Chris Highton talks to Canon David Jennings
Canon Jennings is also well aware that there are Biblical injunctions like this one in Matthew: "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?"
He says: "I think we need to be careful about our own behaviour because if any of us actually abused the expenses we might be entitled to, we are guilty of the [Biblical] condemnation, 'He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.'"
Canon Jennings is also concerned about growing cynicism about parliament. This prompts the risk he says, that there will be rush to the margins of political life.
He admitted that the church is nor perfect but nevertheless argued that this matter is one on which it should speak out. "Like any institution the church will fall short of its values.
A corrective to MPs' behaviour?
"But it has to uphold these values and hold to account those who set themselves up as arbiters of how society ought to be run."
He agreed that the Archbishop of Canterbury ought to speak out as the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt. Revd. Tim Stevens, had at the recent Diocesan Synod.
Finally Canon Jennings commented: "We need to recognise how the ordinary person feels about this. The person who doesn't have access to large salaries and expense accounts."
last updated: 19/05/2009 at 12:41