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Whilst David Cameron no doubt believes he is doing the right thing and I would have agreed with pretty much everything he proposes if this issue had not been allowed to fester for so long.

However, as Cameron announces closing the Grace And Favour loophole, the Sunday Newspapers are raising the stamp duty loophole, the income tax loophole and going back to the most outrageous of them all the deplorable John Lewis List loophole.

The ACA is a veritable 'dead parrot' rotting the very foundations of our political system. It must be buried.

The media is way ahead in this game and the only way to address it is to scrap the allowance.

New Labour's attitude that politics is a job for Peter Mandelson types has really undermined our principles-based democracy. I worry that the Conservatives have not just picked up New Labour's politics, but their principles. Let's hope that there will be a smattering of ordinary people with non-political jobs elected to parliament at the GE and that they will have the guts to expose and oppose the corruption of expenses.

Elected service is not a job, but where are the Conservatives saying that? Change will come but it won't be driven by this lot. Many MPs will refuse to give up expenses they need to fund their lifestyles and investment plans. It will all have to be hushed up and covered over with fake outrage that we plebs are demanding 'politics on the cheap' and are 'undermining our democracy by tarnishing all MPs with the same brush'.

Ed, how about a competition to come up with the outraged phrases that MPs will use? I love 'politics on the cheap', myself. :)

I truly thought that MPs could not amaze me anymore, but here we have another day and another set of revelations. I rather anticipated that these sleaze issues would be subsumed by greater subjects like the economy when the General Election came, but now I am not so sure. Do they not get how much they are now detested by significant swathes of the electorate? This justification that 'it's in the rules' just does not pass the test of whether it's right.

There is no shortage of people wanting to enter the House of Commons from any Party. Ergo, there's no need to consider that they need even comparatively to be rewarded so well. Their role now is massively diminished with so much determined by the EU and local government. Reduce the number of them, provide a simple salary of £75k, move from a final salary to a money purchase pensions scheme and provide limited, capped office and consituency allowances. As far as travel / hotel allowances go for those with uncommutable constituencies, let them stay in a hotel (a limited, inexpensive list) and provide receipts for everything.

Let's have people who are interested in public service, not private gain.

Of course they are not all on the fiddle, but the actions of a substantial number (not just on the Labour side) have made people very angry and they have only themselves to blame.

Instead of using words like "inadvertent" and protesting that they were within the rules, if they had just said to themselves "It may not be against the rules, but what would my constituents think" we would never have got to this disgraceful position.

The honourable majority will have to suffer along with the guilty. Pity, but there it is.

I still think everyone who files a tax return should claim for "1 x Bath Plug - 88p" (with no receipt, of course) to protest against the abuse of this system by our MPs.

The first question is: are MPs employed or self-employed? There are different rules for dealing with their expenses according to which category they fall into.
Secondly, HMRC already have clearcut rules about what can be claimed and what can't. The most important thing is that 'an expense is only deductible it it is incurred wholly and exclusively for the purpose of the business'.
Therefore the expense has to be incurred and it has to be proved by a receipt. The Revenue currently allows employees to charge 40p per mile up to 10,000 miles in one year, after which it reduces to 25p per mile. But employees cannot charge that simply for commuting to and from work. It is scandalous that an MP might claim travel from a home in Kent if in fact that MP is only travelling from a base nearer the HoC.
David Cameron is quite right: "to make sure all staff are ultimately employed by the House of Commons" - not only to show that staff costs do not go the MP, but also as a way of stopping them from employing under-qualified relatives".
Why do MPs (not ministers) need a home near Westminster? Pay them a daily subsistence allowance whenever they attend the HoC; they should be able to claim up to a set sum (against receipts) and if they want to be lavish, the balance can come out of their own pocket.

Mark Hudson
I truly thought that MPs could not amaze me anymore, but here we have another day and another set of revelations.

And there'll be many more!

It seems to me that a good number of the outrageous second home expenses could be shut down by allowing the ACA to be on rentals (and rent) only.

No property speculation, no kitchen or bathroom refurbishments, no barbecues, no plugs.

And of course, limit the second home to being either in the constituency or in TFL zones 1-3 only.

With this contining controversy which is making MP`s more hated than solicitors and estate agents and that is some achievement in itself I believe that you could see The Jury Team get some success here. They are trying to look like outsiders dedicated to real change and I think if they get one or two well known candidadtes they could end up with a surprising amount of support of support.

Cameron and all the other MPs needs to recognise that they are elected for one parliament only.

What happens in subsequent parliaments must be for the public to decide not for previous parliaments to decide.

It is no business of any current MP how the public choose to reward MPs in subsequent parliaments.

Cameron's a coward, he won't do a thing! Hell, I'm suprised he actually even opposed one of Brown's proposals. We need a return to proper opposition politics, not going along with whatever Brown says! As for the issue at hand, Cameron may be saying such thinghs, but I doubt he will be chastising Pickles after his reprehensible performance on Question Time a few weeks ago.

To be fair to Mr. Cameron it is not right to call him a coward. More like the vicar of Bray I think, running with the hare and hunting with the hounds, trying to be all things to all men.

"In Europe by not ruled by Europe. We will not leave it there" etc. I could go on. Anything to get elected. That I`m, afraid is Blue Labour policy. I believe he got his MPs to give Blair a standing ovation when that ghastly man left the House of Commons and also supported the Government`s Climate Change Bill which seeks to commit future governments for years ahead - something which he knows cannot be done.

A future Prime Minister? Anyone better than Brown I suppose.

" still think everyone who files a tax return should claim for "1 x Bath Plug - 88p" (with no receipt, of course) to protest against the abuse of this system by our MPs."

Good point. Of course those on PAYE are not able to exploit any tax loopholes. Maybe its time to be rid of the 2 class system that allows some to creatively avoid taxes whilst forcing the poorer "employee" to foot the bills. Frankly I would be happy to see an end to PAYE, but maybe the logical alternative is to force everyone into that scheme..what do you think? Now that most people are associates rather than employee's isn't it time for everyone to be taxed in an equal manner?

Thinking of "that ghastly man Blair" (Edward Huxley @ 13.42), if I remember rightly he made a speech not long after taking office in which he warned his Parliamentary party that they should not just set out to enjoy the trappings of power for their own sake, or words to that effect. Given recent events (Smith, Hoon, McNulty and so on) perhaps someone could track this down for use as a PMQs' weapon or something similar?


I believe that the administration of PAYE is fundamentally unfair.

In the short term the solution is not to extend the unfairness to all as the government are trying to do by beating up and destroying small businesses, family businesses and the self-employed (the politics of envy), but to fix PAYE.

In parallel the entire tax system needs to be reconsidered.

Government responsibilities need to be strictly and clearly defined, then it can be costed, and then the raising of taxes to pay for that essential spending can be defined.

The very existance of 'tax planning' is a clear sign that taxation policy is broken.

Wealth expended on 'tax planning' is wealth destroyed - no one benefits.

While its easy for Cameron to talk tough now, when he is in Government will such a belief change? I recall Blair talking similarly. Conservatives arent clean in regard to expenses and I warn Cameron not to throw stones in glass houses like this.

Found what I was looking for earlier: in the words of Tony Blair, "We are not here to enjoy the trappings of power, we are here to uphold the highest standards of public life." OK, would Jacqui Smith, Geoff Hoon and Tony McNulty all care to look their former leader in the eye and tell him that they are abiding by his guidelines in every respect?

I think David Cameron may well have to go much further.What Hoon and Jacqui Smith have done is essentially steal from the taxpayer.It should be referred to as such on this blog because I bet that's what millions of people of all parties and none are thinking when they read these stories.
I don't think the majority of people would object to MPs being paid reasonable out of pocket expenses but these are not by any stretch of the imagination reasonable. If 'the rules' allow it then the the rules should damned well be changed.
If any of our MPs are guilty of fiddles like this then I would hope their Associations would censure them and start a deselection process.

Any mileage in calling this "The Rachman Parliament" and get David Cameron to bring in an equivalent to The Rent Act, but better drafted?
Exploitation of the poor electorate by multiple property owners like Geoff Hoon?
Exploitation of the savers by the casino-banks added and abetted regulators on bank risk and Fred's pension remuneration?
Who shall drive away these leeches and ligging freeloaders?

David Cameron claims a second home allowance for his constituency house. Which means he represents a constituency he does not live in.

You have to make sure this issue doesn't get clouded.

MPs are elected for 4 years - I believe it is fair for those with constituencies outside london to claim for a second residence.

You can't expect someone to sell their house for a 4 year placement - the same should apply to all workers, not just MPs.

Gordon Brown having number 10 and a scottish constituency home is perfectly fine with me (as long as the size/value of the constituency home is consistent with his status outside politics).

I also see nothing wrong with MPs having 'buy to let' properties in their personal portfolios.

As long as expenses aren't used to finance investments (instead of covering essential costs) thats fine.

No one should need written rules - they should be transparent about their claims and bow to the 'court of public opinion' if there is any doubt...

It's certainly true that millions across the country consider politicians to be no more than liars, cheats and thieves, working to serve themselves.

We're told that's unfair; that most MPs are hard working people with integrity and it is only the minority that let the side down. We're told that 'good' MPs are appalled. Really? How appalled? Would they serve a party that condoned this sort of behaviour? All parties have members who bend the rules and yet they are not expelled. Doing nothing is as good as condoning. There is no middle ground. So it would appear that 'good' MPs are not so appalled as to withdraw their support from parties who fail to act. When MPs vote for reform the majority vote to keep their perks, to keep vague rules. So, reasonably, the public think most MPs are corrupt. Unfair? How many are refusing the salary and pension increase? The people judge actions not words.

Cameron is demanding consensus? Why? Do the Conservatives need to confer with the other parties to know right from wrong? The country wants leadership. Cameron could produce new rules unilaterally and demand that his party follow them. You'd have to have some sort of amnesty given the vagueness of current rules, but only for those MPs who declare any 'grey' behaviour now.

Like so many issues that have their roots in social justice, you don't need to wait for the books, for consensus or for an election. You declare your intentions for public scrutiny and then you practice what you preach. If the Conservatives are looking to be different then, sad to say, being open and honest is certainly one way. The only reason not to do it is that there are still too many old Tories with noses trained for the trough. Cameron's waiting for consensus is only slightly shorter long grass than Brown's enquiries. It's all talk no action.

Quite right Alistair.

I couldn't believe ken clark on the box last night. His usual poo-pooing "you'd be silly to think it 'they are all at it'".

People are angry, and having a fat cat dinosaur from the last failed tory government, that condemned us to a decade of blair/brown, having someone like him turning up as if he'd never been away and patronising the public confirmed that not renewing my membership was the right thing to do.

Parliament have given all sorts of public sector nobodies the right to trawl through our private business - when MPs expenses are published it will be the start of payback-time there will be no forgiveness.

There is a fairly straightforward answer to this.

Posit A. There are far more people wanting to become an MP than there are seats. Ipso Facto the salaries should be low.

Posit B. They claim to be public servants. Treat them as such, put them on Civil Service grades and let the Cabinet Office/ Treasury set the salaries accordingly

Posit C. Any civil servant travelling to london on business will have an allowance and a set number of hotels that their department is prepared to pay for. An SEO travelling could expect to be billeted in the Ramada accross the river, or one of the many Holiday Inns/ Premier Inns around Central London.

I travel A LOT on business, were I to claim the trousering expenses that this bunch of mendacious scum do my accounts would be rejected, and I would be facing corruption charges. Anything that lowers the bar of standards that MP's can enjoy below that of the rest of the countries citizens is wrong.

"MPs should not vote on their own pay"

This is an issue which needs an independent commission.

"Closure of the final salary pension scheme for new MPs"

Brown has destroyed so many decent pension schemes that perhaps this proposal is not so surprising. Of course if it cannot be supported by the contributions that are made into it then it has to close. I am not against MP's having good pensions as long as those pensions do not become a liability on the public purse.

"to make sure all staff are ultimately employed by the House of Commons" - not only to show that staff costs do not go the MP, but also as a way of stopping them from employing under-qualified relatives."

under-qualified relatives? I don't agree with this. An MP's wife is certainly very well qualified to be her husbands secretary.
Political researchers don't need a degree to be good at their jobs. An MP doesn't have to have a PHD, and as far as I am aware there is no qualification that a politician must have. We need the right people in the jobs not those with the right bits of paper. I do agree that those people who are employed by an MP are employed by the house of commons but lets not throw out the baby with the bath water.

An MPs main job is in Westminster representing their constituents in parliament. They should be paid a salary high enough to afford to live in London, plus the rent - and only rent - for a two bedroom apartment in their constituency. (One bedroom to use as an office).

If they choose to have their family home in their constituency, then they can use some of the money they save on mortgage payments to subsidise the rent on a flat in London. If they do not rent a flat in either place, they should not get anything.

There should be no "John Lewis list" and there should be no payments for food or other "subsistence". There should be a set travel limit, based on one return journey from Westminster to the Constituency a week. Their "office" allowances should be £1 - £1.50 per voter per annum, giving them around £70,000- £100,000 a year to spend on staff and other costs. I cannot see why you need a "constituency secretary" as well as a Westminster secretary in the days of the internet, blackberries and smartphones.

Finally, there should be an end to the final salary scheme at the end of this parliament. Any "accrued" benefits would remain, it is unfair to change rules on people without some notice, but all new benefits would be on a money purchase basis with no employer contribution.

Let's establish a principle: no-one will be helped to create personal wealth through serving our country. We will pay your rent, and your receipted expenses incurred due to your role as an MP.Nothing more.

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