Saturday, October 10, 2009

MP's Expenses back on the front pages.

I daresay that a few MPs were hoping that the rumpus about MP's expenses had been swept under the lush Parliamentary carpets. There's been scant reference to the issue during the conference season. I'd almost forgotten about it myself. But No. Its about to rear it's very ugly head again. It appears that Sir Thomas Legg has just been biding his time - waiting until MPs are back in Westminster, within easy reach of the media pack, before re-igniting the conflagration. It all kicks off again on Monday.

Who is Sir Thomas Legg you may ask. Well, he was appointed by the Prime Minister to conduct an audit of expense claims by MP's over the last 4 years (or is it 5?). He is a retired civil servant, with nothing to lose - dangerous man. I hadn't expected his report until the New Year, but if tomorrow's Telegraph is to believed, Sir Thomas will be sending letters to over 325 MPs on Monday, asking for 'clarifications'. It must be a bit like waiting for the dreaded envelope from the 'Road Safety Partnership' after you've suddenly noticed that you've passed a speed camera doing around 29 mph over the speed limit. Perhaps Gordon Brown has heard a whisper of this, because he's returned to the subject of expenses in his long Telegraph interview today, telling us that he expects some MPs to face corruption charges.

No-one in public life is happy with this. Even candidates such as myself are condemned as ripping off the taxpayer - despite it costing me around £10k a year just to contest the election. We all suffer. One lady in Montgomery really laid into me a few weeks ago for the way I was 'ripping her off' with my expense claims. When I explained that I didn't receive any, and that it actually cost me, she was silenced for a few seconds. She then laid into me for wanting to get into a position where I could 'rip her off'. To cap it all, she said she was going to vote Ukip!! Our democracy is is serious trouble. There should already have been a General Election to elect a new Parliament of MPs who had been forced to make real commitments to voters. It will not end until the public have their say.

I'm divided about whether I welcome the re-ignition of the expenses row. On one hand its obvious that people are already deeply disenchanted with politics, and this will only make things worse. But on the other hand, I know that confidence will only be restored if voters feel that everything has been exposed, and those who have done things that they disapprove of have faced the electorate. Gordon Brown has refused to do this. So on balance, I reckon that the return of 'Expensesgate' to our front pages is probably a plus for the future of our democracy. Not sure where its all going to end though.


Liberal with tax payers money said...

Groan - grown - still not gone.

A few MPs stretching the elastic band a wee bit too much 'me thinks'.

Time to park these naughty girls and boys.

Clean sweep and all that jazz.

Anonymous said...

off with their heads

Frank H Little said...

I hadn't expected his report until the New Year
There must have been pressure from both Labour and the Conservatives to get it out of the way well before the general election campaign starts.

eric said...

glyn the fact you are having to pay 10K a year to get eected is worrying

Anonymous said...

Just hope the part-time MP for Mont is exposed for claiming for his London flat, whilst renting it out AND living with his fiancee at the same time. How on earth has he got away with it thus far????
Good to see him campaigning on the isseues that really matter to Mont in the Mail today - saving the job of that publicity seeking underwear model. I guess water finds its own level.......Dfies he NEVER learn?

Glyn Davies said...

Frank - It will continue into the new year because of the publication of the Kelly Report - and the Legg Report will last until November, at least.

Eric - Think about it. This is the sort of commitment that all candidates who are serious about trying to win make. Montgomeryshire is a huge rural constituency and I reckon I travel about 25/30,000 miles per year that I would otherwise not do - which must be about £7,000. And no serious candidate can decline to accept invitations to various functions and events. Its part of the pleasure of being a candidate, but there are always associated costs - unless you want to be considered tight-fisted by refusing raffle tickets and not standing your round. Should add that I do not complain about it. Its my choice. The only serious point about it is though, is that the cards are so very heavily stacked in favour of incumbents already - which makes the Communications Allowance and feeding expenses into the local political activities so unfair.

Blyze said...

Something that I find to be a bit strange is the position taken by the Welsh Lib-Dems on IBW expenses (International Business Wales).

A bit strange because the Welsh Lib-Dems have their share of embarrassing expense claims.

For example, I remember the very expensive four-poster bed and matress issue.