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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Politician's expenses rear their ugly head again

Issues with politician's expenses in Westminster may well be overshadowed following a decision in the European Parliament to release a secret report detailing the widespread abuse of expenses by MEPs.

It has been widely known for some time that the European gravy train has been subject to abuse and has resisted scrutiny. There are huge issues regarding a lack of accountablity and transparency. having some light shone on this issue is very welcome though I suspect that the reputation of politicians and the European Union itself will suffer further as a result:

A leaked copy of the report to The Sunday Times revealed systematic abuses by Euro MPs of parliamentary allowances that enable them to pocket more than £1m from a five-year term.

Among the abuses it detailed were:

* Payments made to assistants of MEPs who were not accredited.

* End-of-year bonuses worth nearly 20 times the monthly salary paid to assistants, which allowed members to use up their full annual allowance.

* Some assistants doubled their salaries by banking pay-offs from outgoing MEPs at the same time as receiving salaries from incoming ones.

The Independent say that a meeting of senior MEPs is expected to accept a European Court of Justice ruling that there is an "overriding public interest in disclosure". They add that tThe decision will increase pressure on the parliament to publish more details of the expenses claims of MEPs including their travel expenditure, attendance records and the highly controversial €4,300 (£3,800) "go anywhere" budget given to members.

A lot of credit for this has to go to the campaigning efforts of Liberal Democrat MEP, Chris Davies. It is difficult to disagree with him when he says: "Bit by bit the parliament is being brought kicking and screaming towards transparency. I was delighted by the European Court's decision. There is still a long way to go but I would hope pressure will now build to identify what was done to pursue those MEPs identified by Galvin as misusing the system."
The greed of these politicians is unbelievable, especially when they are trying to force the electorate to work for longer for less pension, cutting wage rates and putting the people who voted for them into unemployment.
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