09 April 2009

At last some leadership on MPs’ expenses


Nick Clegg has put forward some sensible proposals to solve the sham over MPs’ expenses.

MPs who already have properties would be given 36 months before Parliament refused to fund their mortgage interest payments. MPs who then sold their second homes would be forced to return to the taxpayer a proportion of the mortgage interest they had claimed, out of the profit. The precise formula to determine how much MPs should return has yet to be finalised, with party officials still examining how best to deal with houses in negative equity.

The Liberal Democrat leader is determined, however, to lay down the principle that MPs should not continue to profit from huge capital gains at the taxpayers’ expense. Research in 2006 by House of Commons authorities found that 485 MPs — three quarters of the total — claimed mortgage interest payments. MPs have benefited considerably from the tripling of property prices since 1997, which have pushed up the average price of a Westminster flat from £171,000 to £543,000 last year. Despite being able to claim more than £20,000 a year for mortgage interest payments, MPs can keep any profit from second home sales when they leave Parliament.

At last one of the party leaders has shown leadership.  These proposals should be seriously considered, although they will not be greeted well by MPs.  There is no reason whatsoever that MPs should make a capital gain at the taxpayers’ expense.

What is disappointing is that is has taken so long for logical and concrete proposals to come forward.

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  1. You could obviously ask the question: "Why hasn't Nick Clegg force the LibDems to do this already and why haven't they been doing it since he became leader?"

  2. Good point. However, he has said something positive and his points should be considered.

  3. Will he be listen to by Gordon Brown though? No.

  4. Of course Brown will not listen. He suffers from 'the not invented here' syndrome.