An observation on MP's expenses

There has been a lot of comment in the UK press (TV, Radio and Newspapers) recently regarding MP's expenses on their 2nd homes in London. One of the more recent reports is regarding some of the expense claims made by the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, with regard to some Adult DVD's.

This has opened up a whole debate on what MP's claim on their second home allowance, an allowance given to them so they can have a second home in London, close to the House of Commons, to allow them to do their job when the House of Commons is in session.

Personally speaking I have no problem with those MP's whose constituencies are outside the London area having this allowance. Certainly this is more environmentally friendly that having to commute large distances. But, when you look at some of the things claimed on this allowance, you can't help but wonder if they are taking the mick.

Using Jacqui Smith as an example, the report in yesterday's Guardian newspaper lists the following as some of the items that she has apparently claimed on this allowance:

a £550 stone sink and console for the kitchen
£568.95 on two washing machines
a £575 armchair
£511.20 for a sofabed

Why someone would need two washing machines for one house, for example, seems strange, as is the luxurious sounding stone sink and console for the kitchen instead of a standard stainless steel or ceramic sink.

I caught some journalists discussing this on Sky News last night and the comment one of them made, struck me. He said that she had not broken any laws by claiming these things on her allowance.

The thing is, that is not the point. What a lot of people want from their MP's is a sense of responsibility and restraint, particularly in these "credit crunch" times. Just because they can get away with this, doesn't mean that they should.