In the news today is the judgement by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner that Caroline Spelman did wrongly, if unintentionally claim the salary of her nanny on her Parliamentary allowances. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to be the last case of an MP abusing taxpayers' money – the general opinion doing the rounds in Westminster is that once MPs' expenses are published in full there may well be more investigations getting underway.
Given that, and given that apparently Derek Conway has still not repaid the full amount he was ordered to after last year's controversy, isn't it time the Commissioner produced a standard set of firm rules about repayment terms and timescales?
Caroline Spelman's offence took place ten years ago, and yet the order to repay £9,600 does not seem to take inflation into account, meaning that taxpayers will miss out on several thousand pounds. Conway is paying his off bit by bit through deductions from his paypacket over the course of at least a year, despite reports that he has since the judgement made a healthy profit from selling property.
Another odd inconsistency is this: if you owe the taxman money you get charged interest, but this does not seem to apply to MPs who owe money to taxpayers. Why the double standard?