However profoundly the Honourable Member for Eatanswill might resent it, the issue of expenses and allowances for MPs and Peers is not going to go away. The sooner that he and all his fellow Parliamentary swine realise this, the sooner we shall arrive at a properly transparent and properly policed system of accountability.

Unfortunately for said member and his fellow trenchermen, the age of deference is, as they themselves are fond of telling us, well and truly over. Thus we no longer feel any sense of deference over the matter of just how much they are screwing us for when they submit those lovely expenses claims.

Part of the problem is that MPs and Peers are very fond of talking big about accountability for everyone except themselves. When it comes to themselves they kick up the very devil of a fuss at all this intrusion into their privacy and whatnot, when the reality is that they are well at it and terrified of being caught in the headlights by a justly outraged public.

For example, David Maclean, the Conservative MP for Penrith & The Border, tried with considerable assistance from the Government and Labour MPs to conceal any details of their expenses under the cloak of his Freedom of Information (Amendment) Bill last year.Though it passed with a lot of help from Labour’s Whips and a highly partial Speaker, it ground to a halt when it went to the Lords: no Peer was willing to take it up as it had by then acquired the toxicity of pariah status in the face of criticism from the MSM and political blogs. At the time Maclean’s own enthusiasm for helping himself was extensively covered in the press.

Now the Information Commissioner has ordered that much more detail be given of the expenses and allowances of six MPs be given. This decision must surely mean that no other MP can reasonably prevent similar details of his or her expenses and allowances from being made public in this way.

But why should we have to chisel these details out of the Parliamentary authorities with series of Freedom of Information Act requests? This process does Parliament no favours for its reluctance to be open with information thus makes it look as though it and MPs and Peers have a lot to hide from the public about how they are spending Taxpayer’s money. As a consequence their reputation is needlessly damaged.

Would it not be far better to adopt a system such as that which operates in the Scottish Parliament whereby each and every MP and Peer would have their expenses online? Thus would we be able to see for ourselves without having to go through a set of hoops what exactly is going on. Then, if there is a query about this or that MPs expenditure, the only issue will be whether or not the expense or allowance is a reasonable one.

If this is not done then MPs and Peers are going to suffer a string of adverse stories such as we have had recently highlighting this or that apparent shoving of the snout as deep as possible in the trough.

In such manner we have recently learnt that MPs want a further £5 million in allowances to help them read their emails. This is apparently the latest idea to be punted to the Senior Salaries Review Body by none other than David Maclean, who, you might have thought, would have been well-advised after his last effort to shield the pig trough from public view to leave the subject well alone. Instead he has submitted evidence to that august body bleating for yet more loot. It may well succeed.

The quite excellent MP for Kettering (The Huntsman’s Own) Phillip Hollobone has the lowest claim of anyone for expenses and allowances yet manages to respond quickly and courteously (as I can attest) to any communication within at most a week. He has attacked the move. Coming from a position where he occupies, to say the least, the high ground, it is compelling:

“There is absolutely no reason why MPs’ costs should go up. The budget is already over-generous.”

If he can manage it, why then cannot others?

Let us turn briefly to Shaun Woodward, the notorious former Tory who defected to Labour some time ago and now picks up his thirty pieces of silver as Northern Ireland Secretary. He and three members of staff have managed to rack up a massive bill of £70,000 on three short trips to the USA. This was for a total of ten nights stay at an average of £583 per person per night including, of course, the first class flights.

The Northern Ireland Office explanation:

“Mr. Woodward meets a range of important Irish-American opinion-formers in America who have been supportive in the peace process.”

These opinion-formers are, of course, those who regularly donated money to Sinn Fein-IRA terrorists who used the money to blow up and shoot thousands of innocent British citizens over the years. Quite why Mr. Woodward needs to go and cosy up to these enemies of Britain so frequently, in June, October and November of last year is a mystery.

Then there is the business of this or that spouse of a public official wheedling his or her way to a place at the pig trough. This time it is Mrs. Martin, wife of the worst Speaker of the House of Commons in living memory, who within the past three years, has run up a bill of almost £25,000 on foreign flights. In addition she has spent £24,000 flying from the couple’s Glasgow home to their grace-and-favour apartment in Westminster.

In the days when I used to go to London for the joys of appearing before the Court of Appeal, the legal aid fund did not stump up for my wife to have a day’s shopping at Harvey Nicholls at the same time. Why then should this lady be put onto the hind teat of the public cash cow? Ordinary MPs are allowed a more-than-generous supply of fifteen constituency to Westminster trips every year, which in this day and age of cheap flights ought not to cost us an arm and a leg. Mrs. Martin on the other hand seems to have become de facto a member of Parliament that she should pick up such a hefty wedge.

The Officially Approved explanation for all this, says a Commons spokesman:

“The burden on a Speaker’s family can be great at times.

“When Mr Martin was appointed it was accepted that Mrs Martin was entitled to receive support for certain travel expenses to enable her to support her husband in his official duties.”

‘It was accepted’? Who, pray, did the accepting? Gorbals Mick, the very Labour Speaker, who fixes everything in Parliament? Nice work, if you can get it.

Soon all MPs will want to slide their wives or ‘partners’ (or perhaps their favourite lap-dancer) onto a more generous patter of expenses and allowances when they too realise that their proposed beneficiary also ‘supports’ their spouse/partner in their official duties. Where then will it end.

MPs will doubtless bleat that this is all jolly unfair and that they work very hard and thus ‘need’ all this moolah to do the ‘job’ properly. Well, Phillip Hollobone manages to do his job pretty effectively and still sits as a local councillor too, all that on a shoestring. Is it not about time these greedy people started tightening their belts like the rest of us?

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