"The issues are not simple" – WHAT?

Brown’s put his foot in his mouth again: the non-debate over MPs’ expenses is descending into farce. Almost as naive as Brown’s consultation-free YouTube ‘cast last week was Christopher Kelly’s harumphing view on the matter:

“As you know, the issues here are not simple; the committee takes the view that the process of hearing all the arguments and making recommendations based on evidence is key if we are to put forward a workable and credible package of changes. We aim to complete our review as early as we can, consistent with doing a thorough job.”

Run that by me again. “The issues are not simple?”


Listen, Brown and Kelly, the issues are EXTREMELY BLOODY SIMPLE. They couldn’t be simpler.

Like all expenses scandals from Brussels to Capitol Hill, the British Parliament’s problem is that the current regime allows MPs to game the system. Per-day allowances, second-home expenses, staff allowances: ANYTHING based on statutory rules to be met rather than simple honesty WILL BE GAMED and you’ll end up in a scandal.

What, precisely, is sooooo different about government workers – Brussels MEPs are even worse than British MPs – that they can’t follow the most basic principle of expenses accepted by everyone from the boardroom to the shopfloor: GET A RECEIPT? What’s so impossible about filling in an expenses form, stapling receipts to it, and claiming back what you’ve spent?

I keep my receipts. CEOs keep their receipts. Travelling salesmen, taxi drivers, secretaries and showgirls ALL KEEP THEIR RECEIPTS. Based on the simple, honest principle that you can only reclaim what you’ve provably spent.

That’s the problem here: there is no problem. The solution is obvious and simple. But of course, they’ll doubtless spend £500K on a “workable and credible package of changes” only to allow the system to continue being gained. I despair of these people.

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