Friday, July 04, 2008

MPs Keep Their Nose In The Trough

In the most blatant and disgraceful acts of smug arrogance and self-interest, the government's top ministers have voted to keep themselves in luxury at the tax payer's expense. 

Ministers helped throw out a string of Commons reforms aimed at restoring confidence in MP's expenses.

By a narrow margin of just 28, MPs, including a number of senior Labour cabinet ministers, rejected an alternative expenses package put forward by their own Commons review and voted instead to keep their £24,000 second home allowances and the right to choose luxury household goods from the cushy 'John Lewis list'.

In all, more than 30 government ministers voted to keep the Additional Costs Allowance (ACA) and the List, where public money is used to pay for luxury items like new kitchens and TVs. 

They included home secretary Jacqui Smith, culture secretary Andy Burnham, Northern Ireland secretary Shaun Woodward, Welsh secretary Paul Murphy and housing minister Caroline Flint.

Both of Brown's parliamentary aides, Ian Austin and Angela Smith, rejected the new proposals, as did the Prime Minister's close ally, Nick Brown and a number of other junior ministers.

Predictably, Brown and some of his most senior cabinet colleagues went missing for the vote.

Cameron and the shadow cabinet voted for the abolition of the 'John Lewis list' and both the Conservatives and LibDems condemned the decision.

Their unexpected rejection of a package of reforms, means MPs will be able to continue to use a £24,000 a year allowance to claim for furniture, electrical goods, kitchens and bathrooms.

Not surprisingly, the Committee's recommendation for new offices for MPs was approved, increasing the annual bill for MPs' constituency offices from £2.8m to potentially £6m.

MPs who voted for the changes expressed disgust that their colleagues had voted against and said it was a missed opportunity to put their house in order.

After the expenses vote was read out in the Commons, Cameron was heard to exclaim: "Where's the government?" 

Exactly. They should be hanging their heads in shame.

No comments: