Question Time


Page last updated at 15:10 GMT, Friday, 15 May 2009 16:10 UK

Question Time in five minutes

Catch up on the highlights of the 14 May programme which came from Grimsby. The panel included Housing Minister Margaret Beckett, Conservative shadow work and pensions secretary Theresa May, former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell, assistant editor of the Daily Telegraph Benedict Brogan, and the CEO of McDonald's UK Steve Easterbrook.


The latest edition of Question Time was devoted entirely to the topic of MPs' expenses.

Margaret Beckett and Sir Menzies Campbell are heckled as they talk about expenses on Question Time

These are some of the comments we received from viewers on this section of the programme:

Robert, Wembley: Never thought I'd live to see Menzies Campbell or Margaret Beckett subjected to tough questioning on a BBC programme. It feels like the last days of Ceausescu's Romania.

John Needham, Llanybydder:I know that the biggest scandals so far have involved property issues, but what also infuriates me are MPs claims for FOOD, as if eating is a special cost incurred only by politicians. Normal, much less well off people eat too, and buy their own. It was sickening hearing a normally highly principled man like Ming Campbell justifying it. Can they STILL not see why such insensitivity angers us? Any new expenses code should be for voters to approve/amend and MPs to accept without a murmur.

Dee, Blackpool, by text: Have not heard so much heckling from the audience since the Iraq war - go, Grimsby!

Simon Coneff, Liverpool: It seems as though whatever MPs do with regards to expenses, it will not be enough. There has been some abuse of the system, but those paying money back should be applauded, and the criticism levelled particularly at Menzies Campbell and Margaret Beckett defending their actions was unwarranted. The media has created a moral panic about this situation, and a fickle public seem to take as a given that newspapers are acting solely in the public interest, and are being led too easily by the press.

Neil Hewitt, Malvern: Margaret Beckett's comments are disgraceful. All the exposed MPs are hiding behind the line "I made a honest mistake" they are treating the British public with contempt.

Sharon, Wales: I work in the NHS. We too have staged pay rises as referred by Margaret Beckett. We only just make inflation linked pay rise every couple of years, which are normally staged. During this period we don't help ourselves to plasters etc. to compensate. Also need to check facts - headmasters earn up to £50,000 - much lower than quoted on the programme.


Conservative shadow work and pensions secretary said there had been a tendency for MPs to regard their expenses as an "allowance".

Theresa May was challenged over fellow MPs' expense claims

And the CEO of McDonald's UK, Steve Easterbrook, said the MP's expenses row was "nothing short of a national scandal".

Steve Easterbrook criticised Parliament's "sloppy controls over cash handling"

These are some of the general comments were received on the subject of MPs' expenses:

Mac, York: Fiddling while "Rome" burns?

Paul Gostick, Newbury: Mr Easterbrook is absolutely right - fix the MP expenses debacle in 24-48 hours and then get on with policy. The problem is that ditherer Brown couldn't even decide whether to go to the loo or not in 24-48 hours, because the man cannot make a decision without committees, enquiries, orders signed in triplicate then lost, found and ignored.

Caroline, Shetland, by text: We should get rid of the government. But who would we vote in? They are all at it!

Andrew Beard, Nottingham: Isn't it time we had the guy from McDonald's running the country while the politicians flip the burgers

Catherine Hawkes, Barnsley: MPs, enjoy your second homes, enjoy your swimming pools, enjoy your designer London apartments, while I get spat in the face and receive constant abuse from the NHS patients who expect your targets to be met by staff who constantly have to work with limited resources!!! What MPs have done has disgusted me! Where are you all when I have to tell a patient that the drug they need is not available becuse the trust cannot afford it? Where are you when I have spit in my face? In your designer pads???

Ben, Oldham, by text: Make them stay in a Travel Lodge and eat McDonald's

Martin, Worthing: Remember that the MPs' allowances system was set up by Mrs Thatcher and her team. However, this example of the press driven blame culture is getting stupid now - the lack of journalistic integrity, and public ignorance is now undermining our democratic systems. Is that what we really want?

M Sullivan, London: We've all forgotten that half of these MPs are sitting on companies as directors; receiving salaries over and above their expenses

Malcolm Hepworth, Bracknell: I had to return from France because my disability benefits were non transferable and stopped!! Why, because I was not in receipt of incapacity benefits. Yet MPs can get tax payers money to pay mortgages on their second homes. It's time the Queen dissolved Parliament and all the thieves were dispelled, something terrible is wrong with this country.

Thelma, Wrexham by text: I have waited all day for tonight's Question Time. Hope the thieving MPs are watching.

Ana Gilmurray, Liverpool: I have NEVER emailed in before but am seething at the MPs who have milked the expenses system to the tune of tens of thousands of pounds. If I did that I would lose my job & the same should happen to them. Send them back to the constituencies and let US the people who paid for their unfettered greed make the decision about their future. I am shocked to the core & cannot believe there are people in this country in poverty and we are paying for MPs swimming pools - disgusting doesn't cover it.

Al, Peterborough, by text: David Blunkett's dog Sadie is the only thing I respect now in Parliament.

John Read, Ampthill, Beds: The entire public of the UK have no confidence in ANY MP. Provide them with an audited report face up to their party that voted them in - justify their expenses - if the party is dissatisfied - sack them and re-appoint

Mike McGregor, Durham: Important news stories pushed off the agenda by MP expenses stories. Newspapers might not be able to tell us what to think. But they can certainly tell us what to think ABOUT!

Don, Crofton, by text: If the politicians have not done anything wrong, why are they paying the money back?

Alex, Cambridge:I'm appalled at the audience of this week's Question Time, who are clearly baying for blood. Yes there have been terrible abuses of the system and this needs to change. But the majority of Members have done nothing wrong. As someone who works in Parliament for an MP I see how hard MPs work, 7 days a week. They need to have a residence in London to do there job. If we take this away then we're going to make it more difficult for people from less privileged backgrounds to work effectively as MPs.

Phil Edwards, Bristol:Some tax payers can't afford to buy a home, but we pay for MPs' 2nd homes???

Paul Wincup, Aldershot: It is not necessarily the issue of MPs expenses that is the real concern here, although some are obviously beyond the pale. What is more relevant is that it was only once the Daily Telegraph published details of expenses that MPs felt it necessary to accept responsibility for their actions. If the daily telegraph had not published those details, would the electorate be any the wiser, even after the "official" release of information by the House of Commons in July?

Alison Bell, London: I work in the public sector where expense claims are extremely prescriptive with the "rules" laid out very clearly. So much so, that in fact it is sometimes hard work to get what is owed to one and if you haven't a receipt - then you can forget any reimbursement! I would like to put myself forward to be on this scrutiny panel and help MPs in their quest to not only pay back their ill gotten gains but also establish a rigid petty cash reimbursement system with very dogmatic guidelines.

Richard Ryan, High Wycombe: Are MPs so stupid that they didn't realize what they were doing was immoral?

Opposition Hack, Walsall: The three MPs do at least deserve a well done for having the balls (and two of them were women) to go on this show this week. Well done for that.

You can watch the programme any time on the BBC iPlayer

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