A different rule for MPs?

April 12, 2011 1:52 PM

Despite the expenses scandal, the creation of IPSA and the immense pressure put on MPs to become entirely honest about their remuneration, there is a real danger that they haven’t learned the right lesson from the scandal. Ian Cowie recently reported in his Daily Telegraph Blog that:
After Budget promises to tackle tax avoidance, Parliament is passing legislation to block several loopholes – but an obscure clause specifically exempts MPs from these new restrictions.

Cowie claims the expenses scandal stemmed from a tax exemption on expenses for second homes, which allowed MPs to claim more than twice the parliamentary wage.

[caption id="attachment_27636" align="alignright" width="247" caption="They still haven't learnt"]parliament[/caption]

After the main scandal politicians unanimously said that this would never happen again. But now another little loophole has appeared. This government claims that it will save £985 million through stamping down on tax avoidance. They want to clamp down on all tax evasion and avoidance, but for some reason exclude themselves.
If the legislation is fair and proportional, what is the need for a specific exemption for members of the House of Commons? Why don’t they rely on the same arrangements that every other employer and employee in this country has to rely on?

Ian Cowie asks and no one seemed to be able to answer. Richard Mannion of Smith & Williamson is pretty representative of other tax experts cited in the article when he says:



“The honest answer is that I don’t know why this clause has been inserted into the Bill, but I suspect it’s a question of MPs getting their retaliation in first.”

Steve Baker MP writes for the ConservativeHome blog that:
There should be no special treatment for anyone before the law, least of all those who make it.

If they genuinely believe that the rules they lay down for the rest of us are fair then why can they not abide by themselves?  There might be a legitimate explanation but this little clause needs a lot of explaining.Despite the expenses scandal, the creation of IPSA and the immense pressure put on MPs to become entirely honest about their remuneration, there is a real danger that they haven’t learned the right lesson from the scandal. Ian Cowie recently reported in his Daily Telegraph Blog that:
After Budget promises to tackle tax avoidance, Parliament is passing legislation to block several loopholes – but an obscure clause specifically exempts MPs from these new restrictions.

Cowie claims the expenses scandal stemmed from a tax exemption on expenses for second homes, which allowed MPs to claim more than twice the parliamentary wage.

[caption id="attachment_27636" align="alignright" width="247" caption="They still haven't learnt"]parliament[/caption]

After the main scandal politicians unanimously said that this would never happen again. But now another little loophole has appeared. This government claims that it will save £985 million through stamping down on tax avoidance. They want to clamp down on all tax evasion and avoidance, but for some reason exclude themselves.
If the legislation is fair and proportional, what is the need for a specific exemption for members of the House of Commons? Why don’t they rely on the same arrangements that every other employer and employee in this country has to rely on?

Ian Cowie asks and no one seemed to be able to answer. Richard Mannion of Smith & Williamson is pretty representative of other tax experts cited in the article when he says:



“The honest answer is that I don’t know why this clause has been inserted into the Bill, but I suspect it’s a question of MPs getting their retaliation in first.”

Steve Baker MP writes for the ConservativeHome blog that:
There should be no special treatment for anyone before the law, least of all those who make it.

If they genuinely believe that the rules they lay down for the rest of us are fair then why can they not abide by themselves?  There might be a legitimate explanation but this little clause needs a lot of explaining.

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