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Expenses scandal just won't go away. Do we pay? No?

The colourful, shaming saga of the abuse of Parliamentary expenses just refuses to go away. It is hard to see how it can until several things happen. A new Parliament has to be elected; a new expense system has to be put in place that is fair to MPs and also acceptable to the people who elect them; the perpetrators of the worst abuses have to be held to account; and, greater transparency has to be applied in the future.
We are actually on the way to dealing with several of those points.
Obviously, we face a General Election within a couple of months which will see around half of all MPs replaced. The new members will, hopefully, arrive with a ready understanding of the need to radically reform Parliament and the way it remunerates and supports them. This, in turn, should deal with the second point as it seems there are still many in the House of Commons - judging by the response to events last week - who still do not understand the full extent of the anger and disillusionment that is widespread in the country.
It does look as if some of the worst cases are being dealt with severely, whether it is Labour MP Harry Cohen being denied his severance pay or the trio of Labour MPs and one Tory peer being charged with a range of criminal offences. We have to hope that they all see sense and do not hide behind Parliamentary Privilege. They all protest their innocence - let them prove that in open court where the rest of us would have to if we were in a similar position.
To complete the holding of the worst perpetrators to account I still think we should be looking to the tax authorities to scrutinise serial home flipping where it was clearly used as a dodge to avoid Capital Gains Tax.
That leaves us with transparency and I do think that we are getting there on that front, even if it does then throw some awkward questions at those who have paid MPs for various activities. The publication last week of the last few years' bookings for dinning rooms and other hospitality facilities in the Palace of Westminster did just that.
You will find various bookings made by John Greenway and Lord Hunt of Wirral in the name of some of Incisive Media's leading brands, including Post Magazine, Investment Week and the Gold Standards Awards. We have never paid either of them to make these bookings, sponsor an event on our behalf or speak at the events and neither of them has ever asked for any payment.
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