Roddy Graham's Blog: 2 April 2009 - Sleaze and MPs
02 April 2009
Roddy Graham is chairman of the ICFM and commercial director of Leasedrive Velo
Sleaze and MPs seem to go hand in hand.
It's probably always been the case but has come more into the public spotlight in recent times.
First up for public flagellation were members of the John Major Conservative Cabinet. Served up almost as a side order was the dull looking Prime Minister, whose colleague Edwina Currie revealed he had carried on an affair with her for a number of years.
And so it has piled up through the Blair years to encompass the Brown ones. Latest episode, and tip of the iceberg, the £10 expenses claim by a presumably unwitting Home Secretary for two porno films watched by her 'lonely' husband. That's on top of the long-running row over her expenses for a family home in Redditch, when she stated her main residence was her sister's home where she is a 'lodger.' She claimed £22,948 in second-home allowances for her family home in the Midlands last year!
Second-home allowances are the powder keg when it comes to MPs' expenses and need sorting sooner rather than later. As Lib Dem MP, Sarah Teather stated, her constituents would ask what planet she was living on if she claimed for a second home, living only half-an-hour by tube from Westminster.
If left to their devices, a review would grind on for another year or two. Under pressure, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has asked for the Committee for Standards in Public Review to speed up its investigations. Consensus is that second-home allowances should be replaced an overnight allowance.
You or I could have this sorted in a couple of weeks. Take the FTSE 100 company expense policies, review, pick out the best from each, consolidate and produce a new expense policy covering MPs. It doesn't take rocket science or a brain surgeon but it seems Parliament will drag its feet as long as it can to line its occupants' pockets for as long as possible.
Incredibly, MPs expenses and allowances rose by an inflation-busting 6% last year to £93m. In the name and shame stakes, top expense claimer was Labour MP Eric Joyce, representing Falkirk, who claimed a total of £187,334. Lowest expense claimer was Tory MP, Philip Hollobone, representing Kettering, who only claimed £47,737.
Abusing expenses is nothing new but employees know that if caught they could be dismissed. What makes MPs so untouchable?
Readers of my blogs will recall my tirade early on when one lady MP put in for fatuous travel expenses.
It seems nothing has changed. The sooner they do, the better.