There was a good response to my item asking what you thought MPs should be paid, and how many things they should be able to claim in expenses. The range of views was much wider than I expected, and not everyone thought MPs were overpaid.
Today there are rumours that the Committee charged with coming up with proposals for reform of these matters is thinking about a substantial increase in basic pay, or about a system of claims for living expenses that would avoid having to file detailed receipts for the items which give the press so many stories.
My hunch is that as the Credit Crunch tightens, and as people find it more and more difficult to afford the basics, the climate will become more hostile to the idea that MPs should have a pay rise or any relaxation of the controls over expenses.
Having seen what some MPs claim – quite legally under the present system – I would like to see similar figures and details for other senior people in the public sector. How do all those so-called chief executives in local government fare? What about all those chairmen and chief executives of quangos? Can we see how much foreign travel, staying away from home and the like they all get up to? One of my Parliamentary colleagues is asking under Freedom of Information for details of judges’ expenses along with their private addresses, as he feels so strongly MPs should not have to divulge their private address. I am all in favour of proper controls over public sector expenses, but would like the system to be tightened up for everyone while we are about it.