Can MPs Self-Regulate Their Greed?

Most of us would say no, but that hasn’t stopped our politicians from having a go at it.

In July 2008, MPs voted to keep their annual £24,000 second home allowance but graciously adopted not to take inflation busting pay rises. However, less than a year later, the three main parties are now against the second home allowance.

Labour wants to replace the £24,000 allowance with a flat daily attendance allowance. Conservatives want a mortgage interest payment allowance. Liberal Democrats want a rent allowance.

The argument is that poor MPs have to commute to London from their constituencies. Therefore, they need an allowance to pay for a place in London to stay. Some even use the allowance to fund their constituency home.

Clearly, MPs must attend Parliament and it appears reasonable that they may need to stay in London for that purpose. However, that is a far cry from the need to own a London home. Why does a £65,000 per year politician need an allowance when a non-income producing student has to suffice with a student loan? Perhaps we should have an MP loan scheme?

The Conservative argument for mortgage interest payments simply allows MPs to purchase London homes paid for by the tax payer and then later sell those homes pocketing the house price rise. A good little earner! The Liberal Democrat desire for rent allowance is also open to abuse. MPs will simply buy properties and let these properties to themselves, claiming their rent from the tax payer. This rent will exceed the interest payment on the property and they still benefit from the house price rise. An even better little earner!

Why not provide MPs accommodation for their London Parliamentary work in the same way as we provide social housing? This will be cost effective, the expense will be refunded to a non-profit making Housing Association and MPs benefit by living amongst us whom they purport to represent.

As for Labour’s proposal for a daily Parliament attendance allowance, it appears we are paying MPs to do their job over and above their salaries. It has no relevance to the need for accommodation or any other specific need.

One thing is for sure, there should be no allowance for a constituency home. If the rest of us took a job in another part of the country then we would either commute or relocate without any public funding or tax right-off for such costs. Maybe MPs should not stand for constituencies in which they do not live or to which they have no connection.

If we apply my fair and proportionate recommendations of MP loans and social housing, I bet MPs will suddenly find there is little need for London accommodation after all. They might also find they have no real need to live in their constituency either.


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