Dishonourable members: no charges for Conway the con-man!

Why oh why am I surprised? I never learn…

The BBC reports that

Pressure is growing for a comprehensive overhaul of MPs’ expenses after police said they could not investigate disgraced MP Derek Conway.

Mr Conway was reprimanded by Commons authorities for paying his student son nearly £40,000 to be a researcher.

Scotland Yard said a “lack of systems” for accounting for MPs’ expenses meant it was ruling out an investigation.

Is this “pressure” real or imagined?

I fear that the papers will move on to Cameron breaking cycling laws.

Let’s remind ourselves of MPs’ expenses:

MPs are allowed to claim expenses of up to £10,000 for a new kitchen, £2,000 for furniture and £750 for a TV or stereo for their second homes.

Other claims allowable include £6,335 for a new bathroom, £299.99 for air conditioning units, £300 per rug, £50 for a shredder and £1,000 for a bed.

The figures are in the so-called “John Lewis list” used by Commons officials to list maximum amounts for items.

Most MPs can claim items from the list up to a maximum of £23,000 a year.

The existence of the list – based on prices at the John Lewis store “because it was highly rated by Which magazine” – came to light during a recent information tribunal.

My advice to parliamentarians:

1) Refuse to take more than an average worker’s wage, donate the excess to charitable causes or your party.

2) Work towards the establishment of an English parliament so that all can enjoy the benefits of devolution.

3) Work towards the next general election being conducted using the single transferable vote method of proportional representation to ensure that MPs have broad support amongst their voters.

4) Ensure the next election isn’t called when it’s convenient for the ruling party: introduce fixed terms.

If these modest reforms are not implemented, expect to see a record low turnout at the next election…

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2 Responses to “Dishonourable members: no charges for Conway the con-man!”

  1. a very public sociologist Says:

    Pah, we’ll never see those reforms unless they’re forced through from below. But there is a chance the next election will see a hung parliament, which could be very interesting from the point of view of electoral reform. So far the government have only countenanced PR in so-called second order elections. I wonder if the LibDems have got the backbone to demand PR as condition of their backing for a minority government of one or the other parties?

  2. charliemarks Says:

    Pah, we’ll never see those reforms unless they’re forced through from below.

    True enough, but I hope that out of desperation some aspects of what I suggested will be implemented.

    The Brown government’s promise of constitutional reforms, awaited keenly by the liberal intelligentsia, will take the form of propping up the Union of England and Scotland rather than improvements in the electoral system (PR has been rejected already) or the extension of devolution (an English parliament is out of the question).

    I wonder if the LibDems have got the backbone to demand PR as condition of their backing for a minority government of one or the other parties?

    I very much doubt it – the party’s leadership aren’t likely to be pushed by the base on the PR question, either. Look at the ease with which Campbell and now Clegg have been able to scrap the more social democratic aspects of the English Lib Dems – the pro-NHS stance and commitments to progressive taxation and free care for the elderly have been abandoned with the support of the rank and file.


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