MPs expenses - pay back the money

Like everyone else, I am appalled by the revelations regarding MPs expenses which were leaked by the Daily Telegraph.

From the Prime Minister downwards, it seems that MPs of all parties may have been taking advantage of the current arrangements by which expenses can be claimed.

However, it remains the case that the Labour Party has had twelve years in power to sort out the system and has done nothing whatsoever to stop the abuses of the system.

Consequently, the destruction of the public’s faith in our elected representatives has continued unabated.

While Gordon Brown has brought in stealth taxes for everyone else, it would seem that MPs of all parties have been avoiding payment and coining it in by claiming for everything possible from second homes to cleaners to barbecues.

The revelation that certain Cabinet members have tried to claim for items such as their children’s clothing at a time when the gap between the richest and the poorest in this country is at its highest is abhorrent in the extreme.

Blaming the system is not enough and politicians must take personal responsibility for their behaviour. After all, these are the same politicians who have used the power of the state to crack down hard on anyone who has ‘taken advantage’ of the benefit system in recent years.

Why do politicians get away with claiming stamp duty and avoiding capital gains tax on their second homes when everyone else in the country has to pay for this themselves?

If your average taxpayer had tried to get away with such a scam, then the Revenue would have rightly been down on them like a ton of bricks.

It is easy to say that the single driving motivation of politicians should be public service and yet these revelations seem to suggest that they are in it for the money and are concerned only with maximising their position for their own benefit.

Given the fortunes spent on individual household items such as curtains, furniture and electrical equipment, you would think that none of these pampered lot would have heard of DFS, IKEA or Argos.

In their warped opinion of their role in society, they seem to truly believe that they deserve only the best and it should be us paying for it.

They are spending a fortune on second homes in London when they should be spending the majority of their time in their constituencies representing the concerns of their voters. It is easy to forget that in the days before this current lot came in, it was normal for many MPs to share houses together in London.

The property boom has meant that they have come to see their second homes, which are there for their duties in Westminster and nothing else, as investment opportunities from which they make a significant amount of money when they leave Parliament. This is despite having the best pension scheme in the country which, again, is remunerated at a level which the ordinary citizen can only ever dream of.

Trust and transparency needs to return to public life and we need to clean out the stables of the House of Commons once and for all if politicians from all parties are to regain any of the people’s trust and confidence.

If we are to move forward, then I believe that the leaders of all four main parties have no alternative but to ask those who have abused the system to pay back every penny.

If they do not, then they should be assured that they will have the whip withdrawn immediately and will play no further role in public life within that party.

During the last twelve years, there has been an increasing abuse of power and position with politicians making excuses for their behaviour and hiding behind parliamentary rules whilst benefiting financially.

That time is over and the people of this country, who are experiencing the worst recession since the Second World War, deserve better from their elected politicians.

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