Michael Brown: Prepare for retirements – and even resignations

A general feeling of unfairness has pervaded the corridors of Westminster

Share
Related Topics

MPs' mail is usually collected daily from the members' post office, just off the lobby outside the Commons chamber, by their secretaries or research assistants. But, from my own experience, whenever an MP is expecting an embarrassing item of correspondence he or she will collect the bundle of letters in person. This morning MPs will be furtively checking for the communication from Sir Thomas Legg, before their secretaries get there first.

This will turn out to be a damp squib. Many MPs, including Gordon Brown, may find that there have been mere technical breaches of the rules. The voluntary repayment of a few hundred pounds for carpet cleaning may resolve the matter.

According to Sir Stuart Bell, a member of the Members' Estimates Committee, the remit given to Sir Thomas was "to respect the decisions of the Fees Office in accordance with the rules at the time". Many MPs are worried, however, that if they are told to repay money it will be according to the prevailing standards of today.

But the biggest danger is for those in the Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet who escaped the earlier summary justice that Gordon Brown and David Cameron meted out to more disposable backbenchers. A general feeling of unfairness – that the party leaders protected their chosen friends – has pervaded the corridors of Westminster, and it will be interesting to see whether high-profile frontbench expenses claimants are forced to resign.

I suspect that the nightmare summer recess during which many have been on the receiving end of constituents' sharp tongues will encourage further retirements in the coming weeks. I heard of one MP's wife, loyally shopping in the local constituency high street butcher, leaving in tears as – in front of a shop full of customers – the butcher gave her the receipt: "I know you need this to claim the weekend joint off the taxpayer."

This saga will rumble on until, later this year, Sir Christopher Kelly announces the new rules on pay and expenses. Pressure is mounting for the party leaders to agree, in advance, to whatever he recommends. Frankly, the issue will only be resolved on polling day next May, when over 300 new MPs are expected to be elected.

On the basis of the sample local leaflets Tory candidates showed me last week at their conference, most won't even be claiming for so much as a bus ticket. The power of incumbency will have given way to the purity of the newcomer.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Logistics Analyst

£23000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be a part of ...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Manager - R&D - Paint

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This growing successful busines...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Advisor - Automotive Parts

£16400 - £17500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading online E-commerce ...

Recruitment Genius: Automotive Parts Manager

£27300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a leading...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Political Editor: With 100 days still to go how will Cameron, Miliband and Co. keep us all engaged?

Andrew Grice
A solar energy farm in France  

Nature Studies: For all the attractions of solar power, it shouldn’t blight the countryside

Michael McCarthy
Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea