So, thanks to Private Eye for clarifying just what the entitlements are. It does seem from these revelations that the whole thing was a well planned theft right from the start. Well up there with bullion robberies from Heathrow or breaking into London safe deposit boxes. It does seem a shame that the media now making profits from extended sales of chip wrappings were unable to spot these preparatory acts at the time.
Well, now we know. I still find a lot of mileage in Nadine Dorries' claim that the monies advanced were never really expense claims at all but were a salary-enhancing allowance by another name. Whatever. The current problem is how to get better controls. Sweeping up after those who have torn the backside out of the system is all very nice but we should have the mechanism to get it right and then merely have to monitor it rather than have secret squirrel letter writing from the money seekers to the money issuers. Overall, there has to be a sanction that we can be assured is free of cronyism. The woman Kirkbride seemed to have support from Cameron and Brown seems to waver from outrage to understanding depending upon who is spotlit. Just as it is deemed that we send our democractically chosen representative to Westminster, we should have the ability to call them back if they fall from the standards we expect or the course of action that was manifestoed. I'm not advocating anything new here - I think it is known as Recall?
The situation regarding second homes is quite easily solved. The idea that a pied de terre needs a duckpond - still less a duck chateau - is a nonsense. Allowing Members to purchase property and then letting them refurbish or extend it prior to filling it with goodies at our expense is a recipe for fraud even before one grants them exemption from the charges we have imposed on selling such places. No - put them into rented furnished accommodation. There would be a rental range and the Government would pay rents directly. Occupying as a tenant a property owned by a fellow MP would be a no no. That covers the standards of second homes and the costs. If a landlord wants to redecorate or change something he is free to do so but any additional rent has to be within the agreed scale.
Digital cameras and all the other toys? MPs should have these issued from a central store. Known costs, economy of scale and greater efficiency. Staff - employed by the Government. Vetting to include checks that they are not some second cousin twice removed of the Member. Establish secretarial pools that are kept busy all the time and we would not need so many.
Running things this way would remove most of the grounds used by MPs to disassociate themselves from the rates and taxes the rest of us have to sustain.
If all this avoids us having to endure the teeth of Esther Rancid MP - it will be well worth the effort!
Edited for a neat quote:
Robert Mugabe starves his population to death. Nothing. The Janjawid commit genocide in Darfur. Nothing. Gordon Brown bankrupts the country. Nothing. Then someone buys an unnecessary trouser press. Pandemonium.