While other countries are used to ministers abusing their priviledges as politicians it is something that the UK has never seen quite on this scale before. Even though this story broke in June 2009 we are still hearing stories of how various MPs have abused their accounts. In the UK MPs have a reputation for being dishonest, untrustworthy and only saying and doing things that they believe will make them look good in the public eye but when a story like this is uncovered it is no wonder that people do not trust them.
Now I would like to say at this point that in my time I have met a wide variety of politicians and I can say that this stereotype is not always true. There do exist a lot of MPs who use their positions of power for the benefit of the UK and society as a whole, however it is very hard to see when you find out that your MP is claiming more on his expenses account than their average constituant may make in a decade.
The Daily Telegraph compiled a list of the Top Ten worst offenders for the 2007/2008 period:
- Eric Joyce (Labour MP for Falkrirk)- £187,334
- Michael Connarty (Labour MP for Linlithgow and Falkirk East)- £187,466
- Alistair Carmichael (Liberal Democrat MP for Orkney and Shetland)- £176,190
- Ben Wallace (Conservative MP for Lancaster and Wyre)- £175,523
- Mohammad Sarwar (Labour MP for Glasgow Central)- £174,882
- Charles Kennedy (Liberal Democrat MP for Ross, Skye and Inverness West)- £174,232
- Janet Anderson (Labour MP for Rossendale and Darwen)- £173,556
- David S Borrow (Labour MP for South Ribble)- £172,706
- Jim McGOven (Labour MP for Dundee West)- £171,989
- Fabian Hamilton (Labour MP for North East Leeds)- £171,824
While those among you with an Alan B’stard type mindset may be thinking ‘How could they claim so little?’ these figures really are shocking and could buy you a house in some areas of the UK. It is not just ridiculously large sums of money some MPs have been claiming for unusual items or even for things not even worth claiming for take for example Gordon Brown claimed £176.25 for 2 CDs of pictures of himself, Jeremy Hunt claimed 1p for a 12 second mobile phone call and George Osborne claimed £47 for two DVDs of a speech he made on ‘Value for Taxpayers money’.
It is clear that this system needs to be revised but how? This comes at a point when the Government needs to reassure the public that we can trust them to lead us out of the current economic situation but how can we when we know that they are spending public money in this way.
In my opinion MPs do need some sort of expense account as it seems unrealistic to expect them to pay for things like a second home or a hotel in London so they can attend parliament and reside in their constituency. This would turn being an MP into something that only wealthier people could afford, a situation we do not want to have in the UK. Parliament should be made up of a selection of people from different areas and background who can use their experiences to run the country where the highest number of people possible are happy not some kind of exclusive place that only the rich may enter.
In this video Gordon Brown rather cheerfully explains how he will revise the current system.
The question is how should the system be reformed? I have shared my views on this matter, but what is your solution to this situation? What would you do if you were Gordon Brown?