David Blackburn

The most corrupt parliament ever?

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It makes you proud to be British. Where resourcefulness and self-worth are concerned, our political class is unmatched. Former Sports minister and ambassador for the 2018 World Cup bid, Richard Caborn, has been stung by the Sunday Times soliciting influence for £2,500 a day ‘plus expenses, obviously’. Obviously Richard, we would expect nothing less from a man of your eminence. So to for former Defence Minister, Adam Ingram, who takes lobbying so seriously he charges VAT. I wonder how Colonel Gadaffi reacted to the 17.5 percent extra charge when Ingram facilitated the construction of a new Libyan defence academy?

Hypocrisy is more ubiquitous at Westminster than Pugin. Apologists for the expenses scandal argue that MPs’ basic salaries are insufficient. That would be true if Mr Ingram was not making up to £173,000 on top of his salary, plus the £263,631 he claimed on expenses between 2007-2009. He is not alone. Patricia Hewitt has inexplicably escaped public ire over the past week, despite making up to £240,000 on top of her salary and claiming expenses exceeding £306,000. Or indeed, for the sake of balance, Tory MP Tony Baldry’s £20,000 per month in consultancy fees and expense claims of £292,334. It’s nothing short of miraculous that the 50 percent tax rate got through this parliament of multi-millionaires. And who knows, perhaps a tax scandal is in the offing?

   

This affair runs too deep for politics to be absolved by an election. George III’s rotten parliaments take some beating, but this current parliament contends for the dubious accolade of 'most corrupt parliament ever'. As in 1832, reform is essential.