Peter Hoskin

The system needs an overhaul

The system needs an overhaul
Text settings

There's a futility about the calls for an investigation into Tony McNulty's housing arrangements.  Sure, McNulty's expense claims are outrageous - a mockery of the taxpayer that will further undermine the public's trust in politicians - but I expect the refrain of the investigators will be depressingly familiar: McNulty acted within the letter, if not the spirit, of the rules.  That, or something similar to it.  

Of course, this isn't to say that McNulty shouldn't be investigated.  MPs can't engage in this kind of behaviour without some sort of scrutiny of their actions.  But it is to say that there needs to be a wider review of MPs expenses.  The current system is quite clearly not fit for purpose.  It needs an overhaul, so that the letter of the rules is more in line with their spirit.

There is some hope, however slight.  The BBC reveals this morning that the independent Committee on Standards in Public Life is considering a "wide-ranging inquiry" into MPs' expenses.  This is the kind of things that's needed, and you'd hope it would get full cooperation from the party leaders.  Given that we've entered an era of belt-tightening, there's a moral and fiscal obligation for politicians to clamp down on their own profligacy.  And who knows?  It may even be a vote winner...

P.S. Yesterday Iain Dale offered a solution to the second home controversy:

"Abolish any form of second home allowance for MPs whose constituency home is less than a certain mileage from Westminster, but give those who live outside Greater London a hotel allowance for use on a maximum of two nights a week if the House sits after 10pm."

CoffeeHousers have any other ideas?