May 16, 2009
Something that’s becoming quite galling in the current “snouts in the trough” MPs’ expenses scandal (and I can only apologise for any offence that might cause to pigs everywhere) is the repeated blame on the ‘terrible system’ (which, of course, they actually made up and oversee…) and the repeated squirming that they’ve always acted completely “within the rules”.
In the case of Shahid Malik he said that he acted “one million percent within the rules” which suggests we can only be grateful they never gave him a job in the Treasury.
Anyhow – for his plasma screen telly and massage chair, and Douglas Hogg’s moat-cleaning, and other poeple’s toilet seats, lawnmowers, gardeners, Sky Sports subscriptions, luxury rocking chairs, dog food, tennis court repairs, prams, garage doors, tin openers, etc – there is actually a very simple test as to whether they were inside the rules or not…
You simply ask if they meet the requirements set out in Parliament’s own Green Book – Section 1.3 – “Fundamental Principles”.
It explicitly says this…
“Claims must only be made for expenditure that it was necessary for a Member to incur to ensure that he or she could properly perform his or her parliamentary duties.”
I’d say that was pretty bloody black and white.
To me, even without all the additional clauses about avoiding any notion of impropriety I think I would have the common sense to know exactly what would and would not qualify.
I don’t reckon I’d need to ask any Fees Office or anybody else for that matter. If MPs aren’t capable of understanding that simple a statement then they are utterly unsuitable to be entrusted with any kind of role in governance and legislation. In fact if they can’t understand that, they should really be shelf-stacking or spot-welding or something.