Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Clegg Points Out that Legg has Missed the Big Disgrace

On Monday when I wrote about the impending opening of letters in MP's offices Subrosa commented:

"Your leader [Nick Clegg] angered me earlier with his 'I've paid back £900, a small amount...'.

"It may be a small amount to Mr Clegg but it's two months income to me."

While that is true I hope that she will agree with me and indeed Nick when what he means by small is that Legg's audit has missed the biggest expenses scam of them all. In today's Telegraph he writes

"When the Legg process was first announced, I think most people expected the worst offences to come under the toughest scrutiny – MPs who avoided Capital Gains Tax, claimed cash for mortgages that didn't exist or 'flipped' their second home so they could claim for renovations on house after house. Legg's review, which is still ongoing, will simply not be credible if it doesn't do all it can to investigate these offences. It must, in particular, expose every single one of those MPs who 'flipped' their second homes, potentially making hundreds of thousands of pounds of profits through taxpayer subsidised property market speculation."

In comparison to some of those as I said earlier the the £910 that Legg told Clegg to pay back is indeed a small amount. As I pointed out earlier this morning there are even some Tory MPs who have noticed this unfairness even to the extend naming David Cameron and George Osborne as being good beneficiaries of the cap being imposed by Legg on only certain areas of expenses and not others. Cameron has been asked numerous times about his various houses and has never given details of their worth, merely how nice they are and which salubrious neighbourhoods they reside in. With plenty of properties to choose from is there really a need for him to have charged so much in mortgage interest repayment?

Nick carries on calling on "every single MP who flipped, avoided Capital Gains Tax or claimed for non-existent mortgages must be forced to repay the money, and held to account". Of course some of those that have benefited from this are in the Cabinet or Tory Shadow Cabinet including the Chancellor Alistair Darling and Michael Gove the shadow Children's Minister.

Of course we also need to do more than dwell on the past, we need to take corrective action to sort this mess out and move into the future. Nick concludes:

"In the future, I believe we need to get MPs out of the property game altogether: they shouldn't be making a penny of profit from taxpayer subsidies. That's why I've pledged to return the net profit when I sell my constituency home in Sheffield to the taxpayer – I need the house to do my job, but it isn't mine to make money from, it's public property.

"And of course, if we're to sort out politics fully, we need to think about the future, not just the past. Britain needs voting reform to abolish the safe seats that make MPs complacent – those in safe seats were three times as likely to be identified as having abused their expenses by The Daily Telegraph. If we want to rebuild faith in politics, there can be no half measures. Only fundamental reform will be enough."

1 comment:

  1. I think the issue here is not one single MP has broken a single house rule. It was Thatcher who changed the Allowances system, so that she did not have to raise salaries.

    As for my opinion any one in public office with the accountability of a Member of Parliament, should be paid excessively more than the average of £64k.

    Party leaders, can play politics with the situation, and take the moral high ground if they wish. Although in the end the analysis will show no clear rules have been broken in the claiming of expenses.

    The blame should be pointed squarely at the Fee's office and no where else. Retrospective adjustments are stupid, and corporately illegal.