MPs Allowances Debate

Charles Walker condemns the constantly changing rules in relation to MPs expenses.

Mr. Charles Walker (Broxbourne) (Con): I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for North-West Hampshire (Sir George Young). I entered the House of Commons four years ago, and it is a complete madhouse. We are now on our fourth iteration of the Green Book since I got here. The rules have changed on a quarterly basis, and now they are changing on an almost fortnightly basis. We have codes there, codes there—codes everywhere. We are seeing almost a deliberate attempt to criminalise every Member of Parliament, because it is now impossible to keep up with what the Government are doing.


Mr. Straw
: I apologise, but I cannot quite remember when the hon. Gentleman came into the House.


Mr. Walker
: Four years ago.


Mr. Straw
: The House has been struggling to bring its systems up to date and into a state such as it has insisted that other institutions and professions bring theirs into, which is one of the reasons, I suggest, why we fell into the abyss of the expenses scandal. With a bit of luck, once we get the legislation through and we get the authority established, we will be able to enter a period of much greater stability. That is my hope, and I think that we will do that.

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LATER IN THE SAME DEBATE

Mr. Walker: If my hon. and learned Friend unwittingly over-recorded or under-recorded the hours that he worked, would he be committing an offence? If so, what sanctions could be visited on him?


Mr. Grieve
: We will tomorrow consider the requirements laid down in clause 9. I could be fined and, as a professional person, I might be able to pay a £5,000 fine, but it would have catastrophic consequences for my ability to continue in professional practice. That would be an extreme double whammy.

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