Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

No Expense Is Spared. Your Say

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

No Expense Is Spared. Your Say

Article excerpt

WITH the expenses scandal drawing to a close, many will be amazed that a mere three MPs and one peer are to be charged with fraud.

Since the expense scandal broke, Britain's 646 MPs have claimed nearly pounds 100m in expenses last year alone, but only 392 were ordered to hand back a total of pounds 1.1m -from Labour''s Sir Gerald Kaufman's pounds 240 grapefruit bowls to Labour backbencher John Cummings'' claim for his cleaner''s pounds 50 Christmas bonus.

The investigation cost the taxpayer pounds 1.16m but, despite costing more than was clawed back, it was worth every penny by naming and shaming the offenders.

If a single expenses fiddle had cropped up in isolation, the MP involved would not have survived; but as almost all of the 752 current and former MPs had made some over-claim, most have escaped closer public scrutiny - particularly the Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling who has flipped his address four times.

Local MPs Ashok Kumar, Dari Taylor, Frank Cook, Ian Wright and Alan Milburn all recently repaid expenses. They also claimed the maximum food allowance of pounds 400 a month.

Some MPs claimed for items which were later refused, such as Redcar''s Vera Baird and her Christmas baubles and Sir Stuart Bell whose food claim of pounds 750 a month in 2005 was reduced to the maximum pounds 400.

STEPHEN DIXON, Redcar I FEEL very sorry for all those young mothers who, in their loneliness and need, have succumbed to allowing a man to move in with them, mistaking lust for love (pounds 66k Benefit Cheat, News, 04.02.10). I feel even more sorry for the children who are the innocent victims.

MPs can claim tens of thousands of pounds as expenses, over and above their more than adequate salaries, and benefit fraud fades into insignificance by comparison.

It is a pity that our social services does not put the needs of the children as top priority.

Every mother expects to sacrifice at least 16 years of her life for her children, why should her children be impoverished by their mother's failure to resist the temptation to fulfil her own needs? …

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