Saturday, 30 May 2009

MPs Expenses

As anyone who has been watching the news recently is aware of the scandal surrounding MPs expenses.

As a local councillor many people tend to tar us with the same brush. When the John Lewis list scandal broke, somebody wrote to me demanding to know if I though it was fair the tax payer had furnished my house. Of course I wrote back explaining that I had furnished my flat myself, but this shows that people generally lump all politicians together.

I find it interesting all the talk about disclosure of expenses - in the 9 years I have been a councillor all our expenses have always been published in the local newspaper every year (if you are really interested in the last published list if I remember correctly my claims were in the range of £9ish.) So why is this different from MPs? If it is good enough for Cllrs (the vast majority of whom are part time [albeit very close to full time in larger authorities] and paid at no where near the scale as MPs) then it should be good enough for for MPs who are full time and reasonably well paid.

Obviously there are always going to be expenses required for running offices and the such like, but we must make sure that everything is legitimate.

One of the ways the parliamentary fees office could do this is to make sure that those people, providing MPs services are professionals. I have no problem with an MP employing friend/family member etc. provided that person is a professional in that industry.

For example, to take my own industry IT/Computing, anyone providing services should be a member of the BCS which is the professional institution for the ICT industry in the UK. This means that the MP will be paying somebody who is signed up to a professional code of conduct and has reached a level of professionalism and experience.