An MP on the BBC’s weekly Question Time show argues that IPSA, the body set up to monitor MPs expenses in the wake of the appalling scandals of 2009, is to blame for the situation I am about to describe:
Some MPs, 27 of them I read, have bought secondary homes in London, to be nearer work. As they’re no longer able to reclaim the mortgage payments on expenses, they’ve been letting the properties to one another in order to claim the rents instead.
This is apparently not against the rules. It is a loophole, not unlike the loopholes wealthy people exploit to avoid tax, that MPs often complain about. And if the taxpaying public doesn’t like it, well don’t blame the MPs, blame IPSA. They made the rules.
So, if someone burgles my house and stabs me to death in the process, it is all the fault of the courts, whose job it is to prevent this unfortunate event from happening. It is, as the MP on Question Time put it, “nothing to do with us”. The poor parliamentarians are the victims of a loophole that not only allows, but positively obliges them to get away with ripping-off the taxpayer, once again.
The Speaker of the House of Commons, Sally Bercow’s husband John, has blocked investigation of the practice on grounds that it might betray the home addresses of the MPs and thereby expose them and their families to press harrassment. Or, as it’s sometimes called, public-interest journalism.
Not only that, but MPs are arguing that, in order to prevent themselves from being victimised by such loopholes in the expenses rules, they should be compensated with £92,000 a year, rather than the miserly £65,000 a year they now receive. Plus, of course, expenses. Meanwhile, the rest of the British economy is frozen in time.
We are all in this together.