'During its long, sometimes troubled recent history, Westminster has been tainted by many scandals. But, in sheer scale and impact, nothing matches the furore that exploded ten years ago this week over MPs' expenses.
It is disturbing, therefore, to discover that today's coterie of shameless MPs continues to line its pockets with swollen expenses claims.
A decade after a spotlight was shone on the culture of greed and entitlement rampant in our political elite, one might expect our MPs to display a modicum of contrition.
Yet the amount claimed by MPs has astonishingly increased by 20 per cent — to £120 million. And according to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, the latest figures show a large year-on-year rise.
While there is no suggestion that expense fiddling is as rife today, the gargantuan sum recalls the arrogance and avarice of 2009 epitomised in the words of Sir Anthony Steen, Tory MP for Totnes.
He had claimed £88,000 from taxpayers over the previous four years for the maintenance of his estate in Devon, including the upkeep of 500 trees.
With a breathtakingly misplaced sense of privilege, when challenged, he said he had 'behaved impeccably'. He added that he believed the public's justified hostile reaction was down to 'jealousy'.
With such a perverse and out-of-touch attitude — and he wasn't alone — it is no wonder voters were furious.
The Commons expenses row — with MPs charging taxpayers for moat-clearing, a duck house, a plasma screen TV and abusing second-home allowances — was all the more incendiary occurring months after 2008's financial crash.
While the rest of us suffered, too many of our politicians had their noses in the trough of unjustified subsidies.'
Read more: Will they ever get it? Leo McKinstry on how MPs are insulting voters by still claiming £120million each year nearly a decade after the expenses scandal
Revealed: Expenses watchdog suspended official credit cards belonging to 377 MPs including Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson
'Hundreds of MPs including Jeremy Corbyn, Boris Johnson and nine Cabinet ministers have had official credit cards suspended by the expenses watchdog.
They are among the 377 MPs to be penalised since 2015 for breaking the rules by not providing receipts or failing to pay back ineligible expenses.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority tried to prevent the disclosure, saying it would have a ‘chilling effect’ on its relations with MPs.
But a former High Court judge reversed the decision, saying that the risk of embarrassing MPs was no reason to keep the information secret.
Freedom of information requests from the Daily Telegraph show that the rules established in the wake of the expenses scandal – which erupted ten years ago today – are being routinely broken by politicians who still show a ‘lax and casual’ attitude to the way they account for taxpayers’ money.
The amount taxpayers have to pay for MPs’ allowances has increased by 22 per cent since 2009.
Last year the expenses bill was £117.4million – equivalent to £180,000 per MP. This includes accommodation, travel, hotels, subsistence and staffing costs.
Mr Corbyn has apparently had his card suspended twice – in August 2015 and September 2017. Mr Johnson, the former foreign secretary, has had his suspended once.'
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