Thursday, February 04, 2010

A culture of dishonesty

That seems to be the verdict of Thomas Legg's inquiry into UK MP's expenses. His report, due out today, will pin the blame squarely on politicians of all parties:

The Independent has learnt that Sir Thomas has concluded that MPs – and not Commons officials – should shoulder the blame for the expenses scandal that convulsed Westminster last year. He will acknowledge that a "culture of deference" developed at the Commons fees office which meant officials rarely challenged or refused MPs' claims.

But he will target his anger at politicians of all parties for not only tolerating expenses fiddles, but "knowingly" encouraging an allowances system that enabled MPs of all parties to line their pockets.

He'll be naming and shaming, and those who rorted the system will be expected to repay the money, or face having it deducted from their salaries. Good. But that's just part of the solution. The whole UK Parliamentary expenses system needs to be reformed to prevent MPs from stealing from the public in future. They have some good proposals - not least ending publicly funded property speculation by MPs - now all they have to do is implement them.