I know I said I didn’t want to say any more about MPs expenses, but reports this weekend in the Daily Telegraph have prompted me to suggest some changes in the expense system.?? I know Sir Stuart Bell has already mentioned that an independent body will be set up to oversee the MPs expenses, but they will still need some rules with which to base their decisions.?? My concern is that the individuals serving on the committee might not be truly “independent”.?? Who will be “picking” them? As I’ve implied previously, an “honest politician” is an oxymoron, which the expense reports confirm.?? The moronic thing about it is that these “honest politicians” expect us to believe they are truly honourable.?? Even those who did not abuse the expense system may have had other dishonest dealings in the past.?? That is one reason I would never go into politics.?? It is corrupt with dishonesty.?? These politicians are no better than benefits cheats.?? They know the rules and they know how to misinterpret the rules to further their own ends.?? Just like the cheats know exactly what to write in their claims forms to get their benefits. Rule #1: Your primary home is your real “home”.?? This is the one you would live in and raise your family even if you were not in politics.?? This is the address you use to register your vote.?? This address does not change unless you make a permanent move and can never designate any previous addresses as your primary home. Rule #2: Your secondary home is the one you use when you have trouble getting to your “primary home”.?? This is the place you stay if you work late and have to get in early the next day and the trip home is too long to undertake to ensure a good night’s rest.?? For many MPs, I suspect a hotel stay is adequate because those late days are few and far between.?? Parliament provides housing for certain ministers, but most appear to opt-out of those.?? If they choose to opt-out, their “secondary home” should not be listed as their “primary”, ever.?? Because these secondary homes are used on an ad hoc basis, they should be leased or rented, never bought.?? If an MP wants to “buy” a secondary home, all expenses are forfeited.?? If you can afford to buy it, don’t complain you can’t afford to maintain it.?? Politicians blamed greedy people who did not live within their means as one of the reasons for the bank failure and collapse, which resulted in the recession.?? Unfortunately, what we have are a bunch of “career politicians” who want to buy houses because they believe they will be in politics forever and will need those homes to last them their lifetime (or until they can sell at a good profit).?? I sincerely believe that those who have money should spend it wisely in order to get us out of this recession, but if they have the money, they do not need to live at taxpayers’ expense.?? Well, they are just as much to blame for leading the example.?? As a rental, we can be assured that the MPs will not claim for refurbishment.?? If, during the course of the year, the lease runs out and the MP moves, they can claim for moving expenses, which is probably cheaper than for them to sell off their furniture and claim for buying new ones.?? No home can be claimed as a “secondary home” unless it is used for the purpose of work.?? If an MP lives at address #1 (primary home) but represents a constituency further afield and wishes for a home in that constituency in order to represent their constituents, then that home qualifies as address #2, provided above conditions are met. Of course, we will need to define “further afield”.?? It should be at considerable distance, such that, travelling to and fro the constituency and primary address is unreasonable.?? As different areas will differ in travelling time, that distance will be arbitrary, but I think an hour should be the limit.?? Just because an MP has a second home does not mean that home automatically qualifies for the secondary home allowance.?? Another way to avoid greediness is to only allow a reasonable accommodation.?? That means, a single MP does not need a three-bedroom home for his secondary address.?? Co-habiting couples likewise do not need more than a single room.?? More than one MP sharing a home may have additional bedrooms as appropriate.?? Also, if you’ve rented a home in a bad neighbourhood, please move so that we do not need to provide extra security measures. Rule #3: Submit your itemised expenses.?? If you list them, you are responsible for what you put on that list.?? If someone else lists them, you need to review it before you sign it.?? By signing it, you acknowledge that whatever is itemised is what you claim you needed to do your job properly.?? There can be no claims later that you made “inadvertent mistakes”.?? All itemised lists need to be accompanied by receipts.?? Some MPs claim they submitted receipts but were not reimbursed for everything, while others say they submitted claims that were subsequently and appropriately rejected.?? The problem with just handing in receipts is that the MPs are just waiting to see what amount they will be given.?? If the reimbursement office is too busy, they might just skip to the total and cut a draft for that.?? But if the MP actually states they want reimbursement for such and such, we will start to understand why they are making the claim.?? If there is a question and the claim is rejected, the MP has the option to appeal in writing, justifying the expense claim. Rule #4: What can you itemise??? Obviously, the rent and council tax.?? If MPs share, the total amount disbursed must not total more than the actual cost.?? That means that two MPs cannot each claim the rent and council tax, unless they split it and they each claim for their costs.?? And this cannot be changed from month to month to pad out one or the other’s expense account.?? They can claim for the initial cost of furnishing, provided the furnishings are not outrageous.?? I think most people have an idea of the ordinary costs of living.?? After all, if you’re furnishing for a second home that is??just a temporary living space, you do not need it to be luxurious.?? Any repairs that your landlord feels is your responsibility will be reimbursed.?? Food, clothing, personal items are not reimbursable.?? This is because, whether you are at your primary or secondary home, these expenses will be the same.?? If you do grocery shopping for the week, some of that food will go to your primary home and others will go to your secondary home.?? Clothing you wear wherever.?? Ditto with personal items.?? These things can be paid by you.?? You get a good enough salary and you are not even taking a salary freeze.?? This will cut down on claims for TV to watch porn late at night, kitchen remodels, second mortgages on luxurious flats, repairs to the main home, yada, yada. Newspaper journalists can be just as sleazy as these politicians, but the public outcry has blown this expense system way out of proportion.?? The public is angry, so any hint of wrongdoing is going to be over-scrutinised.?? It is particularly embarrassing when even minor claims are put in the spotlight and the MPs have to admit their “inadvertent mistakes” and say they will pay back the 5 GBP.?? It shows to what degree the public want retribution.?? Politicians are now quick to point out that the system is “wrong”.?? If they truly felt it was “wrong” before all this was published, they would not, or should not, have run amok with it. Finally, we the people, who elected you the MPs to represent us, had believed at one time you were fairly educated and informed.?? Therefore, we trusted you to do the right thing and to be able to differentiate between right and wrong.?? We no longer believe that and we seek to make new laws for you, just as you make laws for us.?? Perhaps, before you take on your jobs, we should put you through Ethics courses.?? We can create new courses in Public Responsibility and Money Management, as well.?? If you feel that you cannot adequately do your job without reaching into public coffers to pay for your personal needs, perhaps, you should consider stepping down.