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Cheers - AE

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Why MPs must show receipts.

On Thursday I had a nice little rant about MPs wanting to be given credit cards for their expenses and don't want to be troubled with anything so tedious as providing a fucking receipt for everything they buy, and their inability to understand why this isn't at all satisfactory. Perhaps this might help them (my emphasis).
Frank Cook, a Labour MP, claimed twice on his expenses for DIY equipment bought in America where his second wife, an exiled princess from Laos, lives.
Mr Cook, who represented Stockton North until this year’s election, billed the taxpayer for carpet underlay, a universal saw, wall hangings and a swivel cleaner that he said were for his constituency office.
Instead of receipts, he submitted a credit card bill that showed that the items were bought in the United States. At least one item was purchased by Princess Somsangouane Baldinger, who lives in Arizona, on their shared account. Five weeks later, the MP submitted a second claim on his parliamentary expenses for the same items – this time on his additional costs allowance (ACA), which was intended to pay for the upkeep of the London flat he designated as his second home.
Do you see now, MPs? Do you see why everyone, and I mean everyone, to whom I have ever submitted an expenses claim whether on credit card or out of pocket wanted a receipt? Is realisation dawning that this is the normal procedure for just about everyone? Granted I have been let off the very occasional missing receipt, but this was (a) rare and (b) invariably for something pretty low value and (c) I certainly could show the bosses (or HMRC when it was receipts for my tax return) whatever it was that I'd bought and could justify the reason for buying if it wasn't already self explanatory. Had I had missing receipts every other week, let alone all the bloody time, I'm quite sure that I'd have been shown the door or told to eat the costs myself, or both. Nobody's asking MPs to do any different.

Frankly I have a very hard time believing that out of just 650 people there are any that have never encountered the concept of submitting receipts with expenses. For fuck's sake, 226 of them are new MPs. That's just over a third. So surely they've each only got to point out to two of the incumbent troughers what the facts of life are outside of Westminster, though I really doubt the other 424 haven't already worked it out for themselves even if we allow for the remote possibility that some of them have never come across it before. This suggests a couple of possibilities: either they're so monumentally thick that they genuinely haven't worked it out, in which case they should go on the grounds they're too fucking dim to be an MP, or they know damn well but have unstated reasons for wanting a system that doesn't require the submission of receipts, or they're lazy bastards who can't be arsed to make that small effort to show that everything's above board. Maybe there's another reason that hasn't occurred to me but otherwise the desire for the new expenses system to be anything less than thoroughly transparent is at best unedifying and at worst downright fucking suspicious. To paraphrase Pete Townsend, meet the new House of Commons, same as the old one.

1 comment:

Mark @ Israel said...

MPs shouldn't make any excuse from submitting receipts. They are supposed to account for any money from the people's taxes that they are given. They are not to choose other options because I believe submitting receipts of their expenses will reveal how they spend the people's money to ensure transparency.

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