NB I am not DK, I'm Mark Wallace, Campaign Director of the TaxPayers' Alliance.
Politics is replete with problems. Not just this year, but every year there are massive, costly failings in government that hurt ordinary people by depriving them of their freedom, their money or even their lives.
It's always nice, then, when solutions are put forward that are sufficiently elegant and simple to solve several problems at once.
Problem One: the current crisis over MPs' second home expenses. As well as insisting they live by the same tax laws as anyone else, and stopping the claiming of absurd luxuries like massage chairs, home cinemas and duck houses, it is necessary to put a stop to the opportunity for making a capital gain with taxpayers' money. Anyone working away from home in other industries gets accommodation provided to them - but no-one other than MPs get to keep the flat for themselves after the job. That needs to stop. So, how best to provide accommodation for MPs but avoid excessive cost to taxpayers or personal profit for MPs?
Problem Two: The Olympic Village has been effectively nationalised, and has an uncertain future. Whilst many homes are committed to social housing, taxpayers are currently picking up a bill for a property portfolio that they have been rushed into buying. What to do with it?
Solution: House MPs in the Olympic Village.
The estimated sale value of flats for the 572 non-London MPs would be £110 million. In 2007/08 the Additional Costs Allowance totalled £11.5 million, so it would take under a decade to pay for itself. As the Village has already been effectively nationalised with a taxpayer-funded bailout there would be no need for any extra capital spending, whilst the largest cost of the ACA, rent and mortgages, would be stopped in perpetuity.
The flats would be provided with the basic part-furnishing (standard bed, sofa and so forth) of most flats on the rental market, and if MPs wanted flat screen TVs, love seats or any other paraphernalia for themselves, they could pay for it themselves, too.
The proposal has other benefits, too. For a start, 1,400 other homes in the Olympic Village are set aside for social housing, which means MPs would be living alongside real people from the real world.
Furthermore, the Olympic complex is already being designed with security in mind, so it make s perfect site for housing MPs en masse. The argument that it is dangerous to have MPs all in one place conveniently ignores the fact that they all work in one place during the day, and thus it is a security challenge that is already being met successfully in Westminster.
In the words of Hannibal from the A Team, "I love it when a plan comes together." You can find more information on the proposal here.
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