As heavily expurgated versions of MPs' expenses claims were released this week, another slew of MPs rushed to disclose how much they were paying back. Paying back, though, to whom? One way and another, it seems, this money – which now approaches £500,000 and counting – will find its way to the Treasury, via either HM Revenue and Customs or the Government's Consolidated Fund.
Which seems a waste. With tighter regulations coming in, there will be a whole lot of superfluous ingenuity around. Could MPs not find a more imaginative destination for the money? How about endowing a charity to which these and future "overpayments" could be donated? There could even be a "guilt" levy to be taken from future reimbursements. There would be arguments about the cause to be supported, but none, surely, about the principle. The fund would stand as a permanent reminder of past legislators' excesses, while also doing some good.