Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Archive for October 13th, 2009

Why Are So Many MPs Still in a State of Denial?

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 13th October, 2009

Sir Thomas LeggMPs were clustering round their pigeon holes at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster today and yesterday, waiting to collect their letters from Sir Thomas Legg, who has been looking into the parliamentary expenses scandal. Some were relieved to be given clean reports, others were from pleased to be asked to clarify a number of awkward questions, which may or may not lead to them being asked to pay money back. There is considerable controversy, even anger, among back-benchers, many of whom protest their innocence, in the sense that the claims they made were within the rules. But Gordon Brown has said he will repay over £12,000 in gardening and cleaning expenses if asked to and David Cameron has said he will withdraw the Tory whip from any Conservative MPs who refuse to acceed to Sir Thomas’s demands. Nonetheless, a number of MPs, from both major parties, are calling the whole business reprehensible, because some of it is retrospective. In other words, Sir Thomas is saying in some cases that things have been unacceptable, even if they were thought at the time to be within the rules, not just by the MPs but often by the fees office as well. Of course, some MPs (even Ministers, it would appear) have played the system to such an extent that it virtually amounted to fraud. In my view, they should actually be prosecuted in the worst cases. But in the meantime, the whole reputation of parliament will continue to be dragged along in the gutter so long as there are MPs who have failed to grasp the public mood on this matter and insist that they got their lavish subsidies for second homes etc fair and square.

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