Anger erupts over MPs’ expenses

Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat politicians are all blaming each other for yesterday’s Commons vote preventing any change in MPs’ expenses arrangements.

“Today was a bad day for openness and accountability for MPs,” said Liberal Democrat Commons spokesman Simon Hughes.

“The Commons had the chance to vote for proper auditing of all we do, but an unholy coalition of Labour and Conservative MPs prevented it.”

The Conservatives said the government had “sabotaged efforts to reform the system” and pointed to the front bench ministers who joined rebels in opposing the plans, among them Jacqui Smith, home secretary, and Andy Burnham, culture secretary.

MPs voted down proposals to get rid of the ‘John Lewis list’ whereby taxpayers’ money goes towards furnishing and improving their second home by 172 to 144. They also keep the annual £23,000 additional costs allowance.

Proposals forcing MPs to provide receipts for all expenses were shot down, as was a system of external financial auditing which will instead be replaced by a more “rigorous” internal system every four years.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “MPs have missed a crucial opportunity to restore faith in parliament.

“By clinging onto the plasma screen TVs and luxury kitchens allowed by the John Lewis list they have shown astonishing arrogance and disregard for people’s concerns,” he added.

“When people come to vote at the next election, they will remember how their local MP voted, because it indicates how concerned they are about how taxpayers’ money is spent and whether they understand the pressures faced by ordinary families.”