Saturday, 9 May 2009

Matthew Parris Doesn't Really Get It....

The latest revelations about broken lavatory seats, faux-Tudor beams, Gordon Brown's precise cleaning arrangements or rusks for an MP's toddler will be greeted by an instant barrage of indignation. “How dare they?”, people will ask. “And with our money!” But I suspect that for some readers and voters an interior voice will ask a quieter question: “How would my own monthly housekeeping expenses look, plastered across the front of a broadsheet newspaper?”
Well, Matt old chum, I'll let you know on the day I get the taxpayer to stump up for them...
Many of those who now splutter about a Cabinet minister claiming for a bath plug are the same people who spluttered about the laxity of the previous arrangements when MPs did not have to submit receipts for small purchases.
That's because things like bathplugs, Tampax and ladies underwear aren't things you should be claiming as 'perks of the job'. They are normal household expenses, and it's what your salary is for.
Big housekeeping bills are made up from the accretion of small purchases. Listing them is inherently undignified. MPs are damned if they itemise and damned if they don't.
Well, we can certainly agree on the 'damned' bit, but 'undignified'...? These people have no dignity.

And what's your solution then?
I'd add £30,000 to their salaries (half of which would come straight back in tax) and abolish all their housing and living expenses. And I'd do it before the next election, having secured the tacit agreement of the Opposition not to make too much of it.
Mmm, yeah. That'll make us all forget these letters, and decide that these crooked weasels are worth voting for after all, won't it? Brilliant plan!
Call him what else you like, but does anybody really, really think that Gordon Brown is a crook?

Next question?

Oh, you're all out of questions, it seems. Well, you can read the comments to your article to get a flavour of just how it's going down with your readers. Not what you expected, I bet?


Mark Wadsworth said...

Agreed, he is a weasel, but a least-bad option must be to pay MPs a fixed salary for them to spend as they please. I ran a Fun Online Poll on this and rather surprisingly, what people found acceptable averaged out at £66,000 (which seems on the high side to me, but hey, that's democracy).

Macheath said...

Surely the best current solution is for all second home-related furniture and property bought on expenses to be returned to the taxpayer, or at least passed on to the next incumbent, when the MP loses the seat and no longer needs the second home.

If the honourable (and sticky-fingered) member gets to keep it afterwards, it's a strong disincentive to economise in the public good.

Anonymous said...

I've not heard or read anything from a lawyer about all this. There used to be the offence of obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception (Sec 16 Theft Act 1968). This I am sure would be easily proved in mny of the cases we've read about, especially McNumpty, Vaz, Moran etc. However this section (and others) was repealed by the Fraud Act 2006 which deals with obtaining goods and services fraudulently. Not as specific as the old theft act offences, more general and therefore having the effect of muddying the water. There's loads of instances where monies SHOULD and MUST be paid back (Woolas' nappies and tampons for example and FOLLET's security patrols) and this must be done urgently. Ther are more serious, certainly criminal aspects to many others and these must be dealt with - however 'Rusty' Stephenson has laid his stall out already burbling on about involvement in politically motivated allegations after Damian Green and the call to arrest the expenses whistleblower BUT THIS MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN. Vaz, Moran, Blears, Balls and No Balls, Hoon and all the other flippers msut be investigated.

Rob said...

The money should be siezed under that illiberal act Labour introduced (proceeds of crime) and the corrupt bastards prosecuted.

Bill Quango MP said...

BBC radio had an employment expert in to discuss a similar salary in the private sector.

A senior corporate executive would earn about £60,000. After all there are 650 mp's so its a very senior/ middle management post.
Expenses paid for receipted travel and accommodation and food up to £30 a day.
There may be the possibility of using a company flat to stay in but no possibility of a having a housing allowance and furnishing allowances.
A relocation package is normal, as is a company vehicle. All staffing costs phone/laptop/ etc are met by the company but remain the property of the company. If you could justify the need for a pa you could have one.

Overall a final of figure of £80,000 was thought pretty standard for such a post. But that only allowed for 6 week holidays. Not the current up to 18 weeks that MPs enjoy.

So pay them £100,000 because they are public figures and that's that. Inflation linked increases only.

{Naturally I would never vote for such a paltry scheme. I'm just saying what the BBC said. Once we remind them of their index-linked pensions and super salaries that include all sort of unbelievable allowances, I'm sure the BBC will come up with a £300,000 figure.}