MPs' expenses: a personal view by Mark Hunter MP

May 18, 2009 12:25 PM

Dear residents,

Let me start by saying that I share the outrage and disappointment that people across the country have expressed about the MPs' expenses fiasco. For too long a number of MPs from all parties have used their expenses to boost their salary and the public are rightly enraged about the use of public money for private gain. To charge the taxpayer for home improvements, moat clearing and to buy houses using tax payers' money then pocket the capital gain when it's sold, are all unacceptable. The defence that it is within the rules simply does not stand up in these cases. Expenses should only cover the costs necessary to MPs performing their public duties personally; I make no claims whatsoever on my family home here in Bramhall.

The current system is clearly failing and I believe strongly that reform is not only necessary but vital if politicians are ever to regain the public trust. The system needs a complete overhaul, something that we as a party have been saying for some time. The Liberal Democrats called for second homes for London MPs to be banned, for expenses and receipts to be published openly so that the public could scrutinise them, and have long fought against attempts by Tory and Labour MPs to restrict Freedom of Information requests against MPs' expenses. On 3rd July last year Labour and Conservative MPs voted down a number of proposals from the cross-party Members Estimates Committee, designed to tighten up MPs' expenses including introducing an external professional audit and insisting all claims (including those under £25) are backed by a receipt. The following day the Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg committed the party to following these proposals including independent spot checks of MPs' expenses. Nick Clegg has also called for house purchases using expenses to be banned, expenses relating to accommodation to be limited to rent, utility bills and council tax and for the designation of first and second homes to be independently approved to ensure value for money.

I have always broadly held that most people in all parties get involved in politics to serve the public and their local communities but the recent revelations have caused me to question this belief. It is now the responsibility of all MPs to work to regain trust and convince people not to turn away from the democratic system which I still believe in. The MPs involved need to radically rethink their attitude towards public service and reform of the system needs to happen fast.

My own expenses are published quarterly on this website with an explanation of what I claim and why. I am always happy to answer any questions from residents I have the privilege of representing in Parliament.

Mark Hunter MP (Cheadle)

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