Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Gravy train comes off the tracks

One of my earliest Blog posts was on the subject of MPs expenses. Way back in April 2008, when John Lewis lists were just coming to light but before the full Telegraph exposé of free porn, duck houses and “flipping”, I posited the idea that MPs should not receive £23,000 a year in tax free income. Since there are many thousands, if not millions, of workers who regularly work away from home and incur travel and living expenses, then maybe MPs could adopt a similar scheme for themselves?

However, that would have been far too sensible and, if implemented quickly i.e. last April, would have denied the residents of SW1 another year of trough-dwelling at our expense. It would have also denied the government the opportunity to appoint one of its favoured management consultancies and auditors to commission a report on how best to overhaul the expenses system.

In a “confidential report” from “financial experts KPMG” – not so confidential that the Daily Mail have seen a copy, and the dubbing of the producers of the report as experts is similarly the Mail’s reckoning, not mine – only those MPs whose constituencies are beyond a 90-minute commute will be able to claim, and only then for rent or hotel bills.

Well, dress me in a tutu and call me Samantha if that isn’t what anyone with a shred of common sense has been baying for since the profiteering abuse of the expense system was first exposed. Why did it require a report to be written, doubtless at a cost of several million pounds, to state the blinking obvious? The MPs system of expenses should reimburse only money paid out and should not be open to the kind of exploitation that allowed certain politicians to make almost £200,000 from selling a taxpayer-funded second home.

Anyroadup, hopefully now that someone who is respected by the government have rubber-stamped the kind of expense policy that is in place at most private companies in the UK, if not the world, then we can finally see some closure on this whole sordid topic. But it will deny me a rich source of material to comment on.

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