MPs concerns over expenses

During the review of expenses in addition to all other groups we heard MPs concerns over expenses.

My starting point is that, we the tax payer should view MPs as members of staff and therefore must provide them with the tools to carry out their job, as in any employer employee relationship.

I can immediately dismiss the comments by Patrick Cormack, who suggests that MPs need a doubling of salary because the expenses loophole is being closed. This comment is so similar to trades unions who call on historic rights as to be laughable from a man who appears to have no time for Trades Unions.

Comments like his are an absolute disgrace, he is effectively acknowledging MPs defraud taxpayers to subsidise their salaries. Expenses are ‘expenses’ not income. To help the corrupt politicians who still sit in the House of Commons expenses are meant to recompense expenditure they have made in carrying out their duties, not as a way to bump up lifestyle.

mps expenses: benefit fraud we are closing in
Image by johnbullas via Flickr

I won’t argue over employing spouses, as this is not an unheard of business practice. However I see no reason MPs should be responsible for payroll.

The whole system needs to be changed and MPs staff who the taxpayer pays for, should be interviewed and pay-rolled by a taxpayer representative organisation. If it were their own money from which they were paying their staff, then of course they should have the absolute right to appoint the staff they choose, but that isn’t the case. Taxpayers are picking up the bill and we need to know we are getting the right people for the right job. If they require any administration support, as they of course do, that must be provided by the taxpayer and administered and controlled by the taxpayer.

The argument that they are handling confidential information and must trust their staff that they hand select, is so out of touch with reality as to be unbelievable. How do they think any organisation functions, or do they really believeMPs are the only people who handle confidential information? Do Doctors need to employ staff directly to have faith in their staff? Does the civil service HR executive appoint family and friends to deal with sensitive issues, of course they don’t. Why do 250MPs employ relatives?

Apparently MPs claim that running their office is akin to running a small or family business, what absolute rubbish. Business must generate sufficient income to cover their costs or they are likely to be breaching the Companies Act, they are not funded by ‘expenses’. The analogy of a business stops at that point. Not to mention they are meant to be calling to account the Legislature of 60 million odd people, or introducing legislation covering the country, hardly a small business.

Harriet Harman would appear to be under the belief that the idea of spouses being employed with MPs is something the public really bond with. Exactly which sycophantic focus group she got that from is unknown.

The argument of a second job is a non-sequitor. Claiming as they do that MPs work a hard full-time job, there is no room for a second job, else it becomes a circular argument. I have posited this whole argument on a different article ‘I am an MP I need to be comensated‘.

While MPs continue to publicly defend their expenses, some probably tongue in cheek, they hide behind the reality that they exist in a world in which they frame legislation which precludesMPs from facing taxes, which every other person must pay, including their severance pay when they are kicked out of office.

Members of Parliament are not a special case, they are elected representatives and are effectively civil servants. The taxpayer needs to provide civil servants with the tools to undertake their responsibilities.

If they need housing, we should provide that housing. MPs argue that they have a special need, but feel that servicemen are OK living in quarters, MPs are not a special needs group.

MPs should be provided with the tools to communicate with their electorate, this means office equipment and communication tools. The concept that my MP reclaims postage costs, stationary etc. and doesn’t have an office ispre-historic.

They will no doubt argue that they need a taxpayer funded website, this is not the case. They can not be permitted to have funding to secure their position ahead of any candidate who stands against them at an election. I can see an argument for a constituency website, over which the MP has no jurisdiction or control.

They will of course argue that a smart phone is essential, but not one they own and claim against. Yes they should be provided with the tools to communicate and the use of this phone should be scrutinised as with any other civil servant.

MPs should be meeting the requirements of the electorate and the electorate needs to fund these devices and tools directly. MPs should have no purchasing authority over these items, if they need them, we should provide them.

MPs are still under the illusion they are a special case, this must not be allowed to go unchallenged.

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