There has been some interesting items in the news today. Has the political gravy train finally hit the buffers? For a quick recap of some of the most flagrent "troughing", have a look at http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/apr/21/mps-expenses-list .
The Government has just announced its proposals for reform of MPs pay and allowances http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8010034.stm .
In my view its too little, too late - in terms of the specific proposals:
a. A flat rate allowance is NOT the answer, and especially not at the rate suggested in the news ~£170 per day on top of salary!!! Outrageous - a mximum should be set to cover a reasonable hotel and meals if necessary, and payments should be only made against receipts;
b. What is the justification for a London allowance? The most I'd give would be a free Transport for London travel card;
d. A good start, but not far enough. All staff should be recruited through fair and open competition, and be selected by an independent interview board;
e. There should be a requirement for receipts for all claimed expenditure, and these should be publically available online within 30 days of the claim;
f. No second jobs - full stop.
g. Why reinvent the wheel? There is a perfectly good Civil Service pension scheme, which surely if its generous enough for thousands of Ciil Servants, I can see no reasonable argument for MPs to have more generous provision;
h. Why is Northern Ireland dfferent to any of the other regions?
Another news item caught my eye - A British member of the European Parliament has been charged with false accounting and money laundering http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/8008994.stm
Obviously this case is now before the Courts, so it would be unfair to comment on the specifics, but if the case is proven, then the abuse of trust should be punished to the full extent of the law. The UK public deserve better than this....
And finally..... here is an interesting link to a leaked EU internal audit report on MEPs allowances. I think it makes interesting reading. http://wikileaks.org/wiki/The_Galvin_Report:_Audit_of_160_EU_Parliament_members,_2008 While the content of the report is bad enough, the fact that it is not publically available (apart from WikiLeaks) is a travesty.
Its time to clean things up, and the power to do it is in the hands of the public.