Expenses scandal just goes on and on...

Rogue MPs who, shockingly, continue to abuse the parliamentary expenses system, seem now to be protected by a covert '˜old boys' operation which keeps their identities and the nature of their misdemeanours secret.
1995 library filer of Chris Moncrieff. Photo by Peter Smith/PA1995 library filer of Chris Moncrieff. Photo by Peter Smith/PA
1995 library filer of Chris Moncrieff. Photo by Peter Smith/PA

This, if proved, is almost as outrageous as the abuse itself, especially in an age when ‘transparency’ is all the rage.

The trouble is that when they open one door for public viewing of questionable activities at Westminster, they slam another one in their face.

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Since the expenses scandal of 2009, we were entitled to assume that the system had been tightened up to stop MPs from building ducks’ houses or buying lavatory seats in bulk (as one MP did) at the taxpayers’ expense.

But that is not the case, and the House of Commons Standards Committee is to examine practices which should horrify the taxpayer.

The cross-party Commons Standards Committee is expected to raise the lack of transparency with Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) compliance officer Peter Davis when he appears before them.

Mr Davis’ approach was laid bare recently in material disclosed under freedom of information rules. He is obliged to identify politicians when he kicks off an investigation. But he has seemingly been getting round the rule by carrying out in-depth ‘assessments’ and, in a number of cases, allowing MPs to repay money or make amends in secret.

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This kind of practice is intolerable. If you are caught shoplifting from a supermarket, you are not generally entitled to say you will hand the goods back – and thus emerge scot free. So why should MPs who rifle taxpayers’ money be allowed to get away with it?

It is beyond belief that the parliamentary authorities have so far failed to foil these greedy and grasping MPs who continue to abuse the system, while virtuously proclaiming that they have broken no rules.

So let’s have the rules tightened with a vice-like grip.

It should not be beyond the wit of man to do that.

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