A New Dawn, A New Day, Same Old Scandal
Just weeks before he left office in 2007, Tony Blair arranged for a leaky roof to be repaired at his second home. It cost just under £7,000 and the bill was sent straight to the taxpayer.
This was just one of the plethora of facts and figures that was released by the Commons yesterday as they revelaed the full extent of MP’s claims for expenses.
While the vast majority of information had been blacked out by censors, including names, addresses and key details, there was still more than enough for those interest to pick through to get their fix of MP’s lives and to pass judgement on what our money has gone towards.
Claims ranged from the ridiculously trivial and downright odd – David Cameron’s 99p staple remover, John Bercow’s £1,197 bill for a sanitary towel blockage – to the far more serious – Oliver Letwin’s £1,700 mobile phone telephone bill.
The public may indeed be interested to find out why £1,401 of their money was used to clear the same bill twice by Oliver Letwin, Tory head of policy, or why rightwing Tory Graham Brady spent £70.50 of taxpayers money on a locksmith after being clever enough to lock himself out of his own home.
In recent weeks, the Daily Telegraph has revealed similar revelations alongside far more serious ones of tax avoidance and even claims on mortgages that no longer existed.
Upon release of the report yesterday, a media scarmble ensued to find the best of the remaining titbits of information. Of course, rival parties had no hesitation in helping out with various e-mails supposedly sent to the media about claims of rival’s expenses.
With the credit crunch in full swing, the public would have been interested to know that MP’s aren’t immune from the problems that the majority of people are currently facing everyday – Mr Darling was given 14 days by his council to pay a council tax bill – or face legal proceedings. Scottish Power gave him five days to meet a final demand on a late bill. Mr Osborne, his shadow, similarly received a letter with a demand for late payment from Demon, the internet company and Mr Fox ended up claiming £70.50 on “administration fees re debt collection” and a further £70.12 on “legal fees re debt collection.”
While some MP’s have attempted to explain expenses claimed – Yvette Cooper, for instance, was accused of fare dodging until her spokesperson explained the apparent “fine” was a ticket bought on the train – it remains to be seen if the public accepts such explanations, or if they have already passed judgement.