Politics and Expenses

There’s been a lot of hoo-ha in the media recently on the subject of the excessive expenses claims made by MP’s. I’ve heard a few comments recently, and I for one don’t see why MP’s need “second homes” in London.

They should be living in their constituencies at their “main home” – after all, those are the people who they’re serving. If they live far enough from London that attending parliament is not feasible on a commute (i.e. journey time of less than 1.5 hours each way) then accomodation equivalent to a 3* hotel should be available. Expenses are not claimable for daily commutes to the consituency office.

Given the number of MP’s doesn’t vary much, why do they need to source accomodation themselves – the government should buy some properties in central london which are managed and provided to an acceptable standard by a private company (i.e. have basic services, kitchenette’s to allow for food preparation, plus satellite/cable TV, broadband internet etc) and are clean and comfortable. I’m sure a company like Travel Inn could provide these type of accomodations at a competitive price – These rooms could then be “stayed in” by MP’s needing to be in parliament and living too far away. No need for a second home. Use modern communication – video conferencing etc. there’s no need for MP’s to actually be in central London to take part in debates and votes.

Travel costs should be limited to the normal HMRC limits for milage of 40p/mile (if a private car is used), or a reasonable route first-class rail ticket, plus private-hire or black-cab rates – best endevours should be used to obtain cheaper tickets by booking in advance. These are the kind of rules that apply to any private-sector business expenses, there’s no reason our MP’s should be different.