Getting away with this for years

LAST week you were good enough to publish my letter about MPs expenses, and since then more details have emerged about the extent to which the taxpayer has been systematically ripped off.

LAST week you were good enough to publish my letter about MPs' expenses, and since then more details have emerged about the extent to which the taxpayer has been systematically ripped off.

No wonder the 'honourable' members tried to get themselves exempted from the Freedom of Information Act - they've been getting away with this for years. We can only hope that those responsible are made to pay for their actions, just like the rest of us would be if we'd done something similar in our own jobs.

Sadly, I still wonder whether most MPs really do understand the way the public feels about all this. Our own MP, John Penrose, is one of those who has done nothing wrong, but he sounds positively proud of himself for only having claimed mortgage payments, Council Tax, and service charges on his second home in London. The point surely is that an MP has no need to buy a second home, financed by the taxpayer. Mr Penrose claim of around �21,000 last year is a lot of taxpayer's money - particularly when Parliament only sits for 35-37 weeks a year. Furthermore, there's no income tax to pay on these allowances, so it's actually the equivalent of �35,000 per annum gross (on top of a basic salary of �60,000). Nice work if you can get it!

Meanwhile, unemployment continues to rise, the country's almost gone bust in order to save the banks, and we're told to prepare for savage cuts in public spending. Well, here's an opportunity for MPs to regain public trust. Let's have no more second homes - financed by us, and sold off later to profit only them. Above all, there must be total transparency, so we can see where our money is going, and make sure we get full value for it.


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I suspect the truth is that most MPs feel that they are grossly underpaid, and that the expenses system was specifically designed to greatly supplement their income without us knowing about it.

If you ask me, whoever spilt the beans to the Daily Telegraph deserves a knighthood!

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KELVIN MACDONALD FRASER

Montpelier, Weston

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