The House of Commons: a place of virtue
or the home of guardians of the pork barrel?

The political élite of this country as every bit as obdurate as the most secretive of Communist régimes when it comes to protecting their own grubby self-interest from the prying eyes of the οἱ πολλοί. Thus the decision to mount a rearguard action to conceal details of the housing allowances of MPs comes as no surprise.

Plainly Mr. Speaker Martin and the House of Commons Chumocracy still does not get it. They utterly fail to understand that the Taxpayer, who foots the bill for MPs to enrich themselves by tarting up what they are pleased to claim are necessary second homes, strongly suspects that this privilege is being roundly abused. With the publication of the so-called ‘John Lewis’ list which details the extraordinary largesse which will be doled out annually to MPs if they ask nicely, the Taxpayer’s instincts are shown to be roundly justified.

The excuse now being peddled is that MPs do not want their addresses publishing for security reasons. How convenient! The whole point about knowing where they live is that one can make proper enquiry of the Land Registry and elsewhere to see exactly who owns what.

After all, one way for an MP to present himself as whiter than white is for him to rent the property. If one has the address, however, one can check who the real owner is. It would not be hard for an MP to set up a property company to own the house with him and his wife as shareholders and for the House of Commons to pay the rent, little knowing that the real beneficiaries are the MP and his family in any event. If the address is concealed, this form of enrichment would remain concealed for ever and a day.

This security business is a lot of nonsense, of course. Most MPs these days maintain a home in their constituency and one doubts if its location is a great secret. The reality is that MPs know only too well what a powder keg this information will be if the long-suffering taxpayer realises just how MPs have been feathering their own nest – after all, not only will the House of Commons foot the bill for the mortgage but also the business of maintaining the property in prime condition so that it can later be sold on when the MP retires or, woe of woes, is ejected by an ungrateful electorate. Hence they are determined to have their cake and eat it, year after year after year.

Meanwhile Guido Fawkes has started probing at the nature of the expenses of BBC journalists such as Nick Robinson. I say no more at this stage than this: the fat lunch that Robinson has to extract indiscretions from this or that MP or civil servant comes from that sum of money that the Taxpayer has to pay by way of the euphemistically named ‘licence fee’ for owning a television, a tax by any other name. There is no real difference between Nick Robinson and Derek Conway: they spend our money and must expect to have to show that our money is spent properly.