Frank Field MP
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It's time to change the rules on MPs' expenses

Another day and yet another scandal over an MPs' expenses. A setup where a senior member of the Government lodges with their sister, or has their parents living in their constituency house, is clearly unacceptable. There is something wrong with the rules if such payments are in order.

Public anger is currently concentrated on the allowance MPs have for a home in their constituency or, if that is where their main home is, a home in London. But only a few months ago it was employing members of an MPs family who were not all good examples of the Protestant work-ethic.

Most voters accept that MPs need to run an office so they can do their job properly. I have argued since I first came here that MPs should be able to choose their staff but the staff should be on the House of Commons establishment. This would mean that outside advisors would judge that the successful candidate for a post has the skills to carry that out properly. Such a reform would also guarantee that MPs did not direct any of the money themselves.

I cannot now see any alternative other than for the House of Commons to own these second homes and to service them. I know where the next media attack will be, on the bureaucracy in the House of Commons needing to run such a system. But I do believe that the current system is so damaging to the political process that the most drastic reform is now necessary.

In this way, MPs would not be open to big capital gains or losses on their second homes. The cost of running a second home would be met directly from the House of Commons not by the MPs claiming back expenses.

We have had long enough trying to put our own house in order and we have failed. We are now into a period when taxes will need to go up and public expenditure cut. There is no way that our allowance system can survive the new politics that are being ushered in by the current mega financial and economic crisis.
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Showing comments 1 to 4 of 4

Labour campaigned on benefit fraud,tougher checks on incapacity benefit claimants.While a having their snouts in the Westminster gravy train.The whole political system in the UK is morally bankrupt. Why vote how can we trust!
Comment by Anonymous on 15 Jul 2011
Dear Frank,once again you are the voice of reason in Englands polical world of insanity .In my recent emails to you I also thought of the example of Cromwell and what he would have made of the people who now ''Run this country '' Again I say that it is a shame that the people of this country are denied the talents of yourself and Vince Cable in this crucial time for us all .Ohh how wonderfull it would be to have a Coalition goverment of the best brains,I believe that you have also mentioned this recently .Keep up your good work Frank ,God bless you
Comment by Anonymous on 15 Jul 2011
And who is in charge of pretending that the government is stamping out benefit fraud? Step forward Mr McNulty.Would the Commons have to own the properties? Why not just a rule that when an MP sells their second home any profit goes to taxpayers? Or couldn't we trust them all to sell honestly on the open market?
Comment by Anonymous on 15 Jul 2011
Dear Mr Field,The investigation of the rapacious financial scamming practised by MPs(at all levels) now has to be taken completely out of the hands of those in parliament.Why has the Fraud Act 2006 (particularly Sections 2-4)not been used to investigate and prosecute those MPs who have stolen taxpayers' funds?Should the behaviour of these MPs not be treated as a type of 'benefit fraud' and just as diligently investigated and legal action taken?No sensible person would accept that MPs alone should be responsible for 'policing' MPs.As we have seen from the spate of cases recently, MPs cannot be trusted to act in the interest of the citizens of this country and appear more interested in lining their own pockets and taking whatever steps necessary to 'obscure' their actions from public scrutiny.I have never been a particular fan of Cromwell but his comments about MPs in his day seem to resonate in 2009;-"Is there any single Virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there no Vice you do not possess?.... Gold is your god: Which of you have not bartered your Consciences for Bribes? Is there a Man amongst you that has the least Care for the Good of the Commonwealth? Ye sordid Prostitutes.. ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; You were deputed here to get Grievances redressed; Are you not yourselves become the greatest Grievance?"
Comment by Anonymous on 15 Jul 2011

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