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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Gravy train continues

Liberal Democrat MEP, Chris Davies is absolutely right when he says that the current system of allowances for members of the European Parliament is "tantamount to embezzlement".

British MEPs of all parties overwhelmingly voted for reform but were outgunned by a combination of Christian Democrats and socialists, together with poorly paid MEPs from new EU countries. Some of the reforms they proposed include fines and suspension for gross financial irregularities. The Guardian notes that Welsh Labour MEP, Eluned Morgan, voted against some of these, whilst Robert Kilroy-Silk, the former UKIP member, abstained.

Chris Davies reports that "Some shout that it's beneath the dignity of a parliamentarian to keep receipts or have a public scrutiny of their spending." If this is the case then it is a disgrace. All expense claims in the Welsh Assembly need to be backed up with receipts and a declaration that they have been wholly incurred in pursuance of the business of being an Assembly Member. This is a system that should apply in all Parliaments.

I understand that the lack of a common salary for MEPs of all Countries means that some rely on these expenses to top up their earnings, but that is not a defensible reason for opposing reform. Reform must include a common salary and a reining in of unsupported and indefensible expenses. This is something that individual Governments should be pushing for as well.
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