MEMBERS of parliament who represent constituencies less than an hour’s commuting distance from Westminster are claiming upward of £20,000 of taxpayers’ money a year to fund “overnight” homes in central London.
The latest expenses dodge by MPs has caused outrage among senior politicians who want colleagues who live within commuting distance of parliament to be barred from claiming the cash.
A committee of MPs set up by Michael Martin, the Speaker, to review Commons expenses is to consider whether London MPs should be banned from claiming housing allowances which were created when late-night sittings were the norm. It will also examine whether the system of housing allowances for MPs across the rest of Britain should be scrapped.
Twenty-four MPs with seats in Greater London claimed almost £400,000 of public money to fund second homes last year.
Two Labour MPs with neighbouring constituencies in west London, Alan and Ann Keen, a junior health minister, have claimed more than £175,000 in allowances since 2002 even though their family home in her constituency is less than 10 miles from parliament.
A third MP, John Austin, who claimed £22,110, bought a London flat which is approximately the same travelling time from Westminster as his constituency home.
Why are we not surprised? It's all too predictable, really.
The only reason that these thieving bastards have not been beaten to a pulp before this is that no one has really bothered to look, in detail, at what these fucks have been claiming. As such, our venal politicians have imagined that they can just get away with it, immune from criticism.
And, it rather looks as though criticism is all that they will get, since the Speaker is hardly free from expenses scandals himself.
Michael Martin, the House of Commons Speaker, faced a fresh storm over his expenses last night after it emerged that he used air miles earned on official business to fly relatives from Glasgow to London over new year.
His adult children Mary Ann and Paul, with their families, saved around £360 a head by using the perks accrued when Mr Martin was travelling for work. The trip fell in a period when Martin's use of taxpayers' money was already under attack, amid reports that his wife had clocked up a bill of £4,000 taking taxis to do the shopping for official functions.
Ministers are banned from using air miles accrued on official trips, and are expected to put them towards reducing the cost of future ministerial travel or donate them to charity.
The revelations in today's Sunday Mirror will cast fresh doubt on whether Martin is the right person to chair the current parliamentary inquiry into MPs' expenses, which was set up to restore public confidence following the row over MP Derek Conway hiring his son Henry as a researcher.
The Martins' use of air travel has already come under scrutiny, after freedom of information requests revealed that Mrs Martin had spent £24,000 of taxpayers' money flying between London and Glasgow, where the family is based.
It should be noted that—for a bunch of pepople who keep on attempting to slap more and more Green taxes on the rest of us, as well as telling us how the aviation industry is an evil, planet-destroying cartel—MPs do seem to be remarkably keen on flying.
Morally, it seems, it is one rule for us and one for them; and, of course, they are unlikely to give two fucks about the Green taxes because they will simply ensure that their expenses make sure that they themselves do not feel the effects. After all, they are far more important than we.
Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat MP who has pushed for reform of Westminster perks, said: 'This will further damage public confidence in the system of parliamentary expenses. A benefit which is accrued because of spending by the taxpayer should be returned to the taxpayer.'
Well, that is all very laudable, Norman; in that case, why are MPs allowed to keep the profits on houses that they have bought with their expenses? Or are expenses not counted as a "benefit which is accrued because of spending by the taxpayer"?
Hang them, hang them all.