In a sign that politicians still fail to grasp the public's fury, MPs are threatening a mutiny over demands to pay back more than £1m of "fiddled" allowances, says Tim Shipman in the Daily Mail. Sir Thomas Legg, the former Whitehall mandarin commissioned by Gordon Brown to audit MPs' expenses (at an alleged cost of £1m), has sent letters to more than 500 MPs demanding repayments unless they can justify their claims. The worst offenders face demands for more than £100,000.
Labour MP Sir Stuart Bell complains that Sir Thomas has introduced new rules and caps retrospectively "against fairness and the rules of natural justice", says The Daily Telegraph. But this isn't about rules, it's about behaviour. MPs shouldn't need to be told in detail how much taxpayers' money they can spend.
The Green Book is clear. It tells MPs they can claim for costs "wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred... for the purposes of performing your parliamentary duties". Where do "arboretums and duck islands and plasma televisions" feature in this formula? At least David Cameron has set a good example by warning that any Tory MP who refuses to repay will be barred from standing at the general election.
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Barred or not, "there will be an extraordinary turnover of MPs when the country next goes to the polls", says Rachel Sylvester in The Times. Labour has already lost one seat in a by-election after Ian Gibson stood down over his decision to allow his daughter to share his taxpayer-subsidised flat. "Many more seats will change hands". Almost 130 MPs have already said they plan to retire at the next election; dozens more could do so.
No wonder Cameron is so keen to parachute up to 45 senior figures into the House of Lords. "It is all very well having novices in a nunnery but it is more dangerous to have too many trotting down the corridors of power", even if they are "untouched by the John Lewis list". But "you can't improve parliament without encouraging a fresh wave of keen, principled and determined outsiders to breach its walls", and those would-be MPs do exist, says Jackie Ashley in The Guardian. "Forced by events, the parliamentary system is brewing the medicine to cure itself".
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