THE Sharia law debate leads on nicely to the fuss about MPs and the allowances they claim. Only thanks to that fuss do we learn about the old Spanish practices that prevail in Westminster. I should, perhaps, stress that they are not all at it . Howe
THE Sharia law debate leads on nicely to the fuss about MPs and the allowances they claim.
Only thanks to that fuss do we learn about the "old Spanish practices" that prevail in Westminster.
I should, perhaps, stress that they are not all "at it".
However, I am struck by the difference between the rules MPs work to and those applied to our own local authority elected representatives.
When the county council debates any financial arrangements, any close relative who stands to benefit financially has to be declared publicly when the subject is debated and the councillor concerned might be expected to leave the chamber.
How would our ratepayers feel if we, for instance, could each claim up to £250 a week on expenses for which no receipts are necessary?
And how do you think I would fare if it emerged that I had a house which was my primary residence for the purpose of not paying Capital Gains Tax and my secondary residence for some other purpose to do with allowances?
Would a few rude editorials be considered punishment enough for me?
Most importantly, however, why has the information above had to be extracted with forceps?
My action plan for improvement would start by producing a code of conduct for MPs which was just as restrictive as the ones used by local authorities.
Merely as an illustration: about three years ago, Parliament agreed that the minimum value of a gift presented to a local councillor that needed to be publicly declared should be increased from £4.99 to £24.99.
At the very same time they agreed that the corresponding figure for themselves should increase from £125 to £1,000.
I wish someone could explain to me the rationale for that difference.