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Last Updated: Friday, 22 October, 2004, 20:36 GMT 21:36 UK
MPs scrutiny over expenses: Your views
Palace of Westminster
Details of MPs expenses and allowances were published for the first time on Thursday.

MPs are paid £57,000 a year. They claim expenses totalling £80m, equivalent to £120,000 each.

On top of this come perks and pensions.

Details of the expenses over the past three years have been kept secret until now, but are being published ahead of changes to the Freedom of Information Act in January.

What are you views on the publication of the figures? Are MPs allowances and expenses high enough? Or are our MPs too expensive? Send us your comments using the postform.

This debate has now closed. Thank you for your comments.


Your comments:

SUGGEST A DEBATE
This topic was suggested by Geoff Broad, UK:
The public's views on salaries and allowances received by Members of Parliament

They're supposed to be running the country for goodness' sake - these figures are hardly astonishing. Do we really want the House of Commons to become a club for the independently wealthy? If we want a Parliament that represents the people (rather than a bunch of privileged toffs) then we have to pay them properly. They're shooting themselves in the foot a bit though - why not pay for researchers and secretaries centrally, rather than contributing to these "outrageous" expenses claims?
Phil, London

Many comments seem to suggest you need to offer high salaries to expect the best. Why doesn't this count when employing nurses, council workers or other vital public service personnel? Are people implying that these aren't the best because of their relatively low pay ?
Anon, UK

MPs are simply civil servants, employed by the tax payer, why should they receive such extensive benefits when "run of the mill" civil servants receive a pittance. MPs should remember they volunteer to be MPs, no one forces them into it.
Ian Lake, Blandford, England

Why are so many people here all so quick to judge this negatively? Labelling all MPs as "useless" and "feeding at the trough" is hardly constructive. There are many dedicated, vocal and principled people in Parliament. How many of them would be able to be there if they had to fork out for their own offices, staff, equipment, travel to and from their constituency to London etc? Not many of them. Maybe they could be funded by big business instead? No thanks. Let's not forget we voted for these people in the first place, and even though you may not like them all this is the way our (for want of a better word) democracy functions. Please think before you criticise "just because they're politicians".
Rich, Englishman in NY, USA

If you think your MP is claiming too much in expenses then you can always vote them out
Phil, Liverpool
If you think your MP is claiming too much in expenses then you can always vote them out. Of course they then get a nice little leaving present in the form of a bundle of cash. There can be no other business that requires so little in the way of qualifications, pays so much and then pays a dividend when they are thrown out for not carrying out the wishes of their employers. MPs' pay should be limited to twice the national average wage. I bet the minimum wage would fly up overnight.
Phil, Liverpool

We should reduce the number of MPs by half. Now that there is a Welsh Assembly and a Scottish Parliament, members representing those areas should no longer be part of Westminster
Eve, Rugby

What I find appalling is the fact that there is one rule for MPs and one rule for the rest of us; I would love to see them picketing because they have lost their pension entitlement one day. And as for the earlier comment on unsociable working hours and 57k basic pay - I am sure you would find many who would queue for that!
Anon, London

Labour's Mr Pike says we have to look at the job they do? What about doctors, nurses, teachers? What can they claim for? Some can't afford a first home let alone claim for a second! If they can get these benefits why can't everyone else? Isn't it this sort of inequality that has sparked so many revolutions? P.S. Not bad pension package either!!
Bal, Essex

I think this further demonstrates just how out of touch MPs are with 'ordinary' people. 57p per mile allowance for travel is far above the tax exempt allowance specified by Inland Revenue. Who's wrong? This whole saga smacks of greed.
Kevin Willimott, Loughborough UK

The numbers involved are tiny compared to what the government actually spends, and even smaller when compared to what a business of a similar size would spend to do a similar job. I agree that many local MPs do not offer the best value for money, but as most of them represent 40,000+ constituents, £3-£4 each is a bargain for what they do. If you pay peanuts you get monkeys, and many successful people would find an MP's salary and expense allowance a pittance compared to what they could earn in the private sector. You get what you pay for!
Mat, San Francisco, California (formerly Guildford, Surrey)

The salary itself is not excessive. My objection is to the purchase of second homes and payment by the public of mortgage interest when the MP already has a home in or near London.
N. Stanley, GREAT GRIMSBY, UK

Ok, so I work in London - do I get a £20,902 2nd home allowance - no - in fact the Government want to tax people on 2nd homes. I have a busy life - earning all the tax that I have to pay - do I get an allowance for extra staff to help me cope with activities - No - These people work for us not the other way around - Do the governments consider us "little people" I have to travel to the city every day they should do the same.
Carey Jack, Maidtone, Kent

If MPs didn't get a decent wage for what is after all a very hard job, only people who already have serious amounts of money would consider running for office. Thankfully we do not have a situation similar to America where the majority of politicians are multi millionaires.
Rob, London

I attended a local Labour party garden party last year, through a family member, and I ended up speaking to the husband of the local MP... who's also her secretary and personal constituency office representative. He was very happy with what they could claim as a result, thank you very much - given that we can now see actual amounts quantified, I have to say that it's a total disgrace how family members can so cynically be employed at the tax-payer's expense, and let's face it - it's for pretty decent amounts of hard cash as well.
Robbie Cole, Stoke-On-Trent

I think it's a fantastic idea to publish the expenses and allowances of MPs. I work in Nursing and every time the salary and/ or expenditure of MPs come up, I think of the quantity of much needed stuff that could be purchased by the NHS, with that money.
Alexandra Evans, Wales

Outrageous. MP's salaries should be decided by a panel of the electorate, not MPs themselves (after all, they work for us). The pension is a disgrace - they should have a stakeholder scheme like the rest of us - they thought of it!
Mohammed, Birmingham

I can understand that an MP has to have expenditure for travelling and staffing costs but to pay them above what the average person earns not fair. The country is not a PLC and by paying more we attract better people for the job. Being an MP is to do the best for the country not the money.
James, Coventry, England

We should not pass comment on the size of MP's expenses until we have actually seen what they are spent on. But publishing them can only have a positive effect - economy begins at home, after all.
Simon Ball, Derby, England

They should introduce a system whereby they pay half of their rail fares out of their own pocket. I suspect many of their trips would no longer be required and certainly wouldn't be first class.
Colin, UK

Shocking. Mr Prudence himself (Gordon Brown) took £130,000.
Jonathan, UK

It is us who can vote for someone else next time if they are not up to scratch
Mike, Barnet, London

Those who say £57k is not that much for London might be interested to know that there are millions of (qualified and educated) Londoners who can only dream of earning that much. If the MPs work hard then they deserve their salary but you cannot excuse poor attendance at Parliament or other meetings. I just hope the voting public take notice of what their MPs get up to and what they spend our money on as it is us who can vote for someone else next time if they are not up to scratch.
Mike, Barnet, London

When I first heard this story on the news I was outraged. Expenses? £120k a year?! That's a lot of food, wine and first class travel. But then I realised that the name is misleading. These aren't expenses in the same way that I claim expenses at work. They pay for staff, for stationery and all kinds of other essentials. Suddenly £120k looks pretty reasonable...
John McGarvey, Reading, UK

I understand that to get the best people you have to offer a good employment package - I employ people. Maybe £57k is not a lot, but I bet there are other forms of income as a number of contributors have mentioned. What I find incredible is that they average twice their pay in expenses! I bet HM Tax Inspectors would like to get their teeth into that one.
Terry, Epsom, Surrey, England

I would like most of the people on this board to realise that an MP is expected to represent up to 70,000 people. I work for an MP and I can assure you that many of the so-called expenses are in fact designed to pay for anything up to four staff. The money does not go far whilst based in London.
Anon, London, UK

One point missing in this debate so far - I don't think you'll find too many London professionals queuing up for a £57k job which involves anti-social hours and a significant probability of unemployment within 4 years.
SRB, London, UK

All MP's should have a personal expense budget over their salary and anything over that budget should be paid by themselves.
Margaret, GRIMSBY, England

If we are only prepared to pay our MPs a couple of hundred quid a week the country will end up being run by a bunch of incompetents.
Simon Gould, Brighton

As a former MP I can see no reason why MPS should not be able to claim Housing and travelling expenses. I was lucky; my constituency was in London so I only needed one house. By fat cat standards MPs salaries are chicken feed, as are their other expenses.
Bill Pitt, Broadstairs, UK

With the proposed job cuts in the civil service looming it is diabolical to think MP's waste such large amounts of money on 'expenses'. I wonder just how much of this money is spent on essential items and how much is lavishly splashed about as a perk of the job? Cut the spending on MP's expenses and save some jobs!
CP, Warrington, Cheshire

I think that compared to the corrupt bandits who run some countries we have a great bunch of people, most of whom care deeply about our country. I don't see how justified expenses backed up with receipts can give any taxpayer sleepless nights. If the expenses claims are fraudulent or MPs are failing to pay taxes on them then they should be fined just like the rest of us would be.
Rick Hough, Knutsford, Cheshire, UK

Although this will give us a lot to keep an eye on the amount, £80m, is only a small amount of the billions of our tax money spent by the Government each year. I'd be more interested to see how well the Government tendering process is working; who gets the big contracts and why.
David R, Plymouth UK

As a contractor living in London during the week I can see how a MP could work their way through £120K expenses. It is easy to criticise but you try getting a decent bottle Château Lafite for less than £170 or a meal at Gordon Ramseys restaurant for less than £100 a head. I am glad that are MP's are finally catching up with their European counterparts and no longer have to hold their heads in shame.
James , Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK

Clearly none of these people who have commented have read a thing about what the so called expenses are! They have similarly not done any research about how many MPs have any other paid employment as the vast majority don't. This is not expenses they get to keep - but the sort of thing you take for granted when you turn up at work - a desk, computer and telephone. Before sounding of try and do some background and find out the facts rather than simply repeating tired on clichés please.
Sarah, Nottingham

I think we should apply normal commercial practices to the Houses of Parliament i.e. they should have tendering procedures in place to obtain best value for the UK taxpayer. I believe if we were to employ MP's from Asia or Eastern European countries then the savings may be considerable.
Keith Ellis, Halifax West Yorkshire

Do you really want demoralised and underpaid people running the country? £57k is not a huge amount of money in this day and age and the so called 'expenses' include staff wages etc. A whole lot of fuss is being made over nothing.
Emily, UK

MPs should be subject to the same kind of scrutiny and control which they exert over the rest of us. Any who are reluctant should be asked why the next time they canvass our support.
Philip Martin-Sumers, Wolverhampton, England

Add their exorbitant pensions to these figures and it is a total disgrace - the number of MPs should be cut by 80% and then they might warrant their pay!
Peter H, Sheffield, UK

This can only be a good thing. There is a perception, rightly or wrongly, that MPs live high on the hog at tax payer's expense. By detailing their expenses and allowances we at last have transparency and can hold profligate MPs to account. I would hope it could be extended to include all senior public employees including Judges and Senior Civil Servants.
Joseph Wilkinson, Whitehaven, UK

I am quite happy for my MP's to claim these expenses because I am in no position to complain.
Vish, UK
I don't think there is one person on this board who wouldn't claim the same expenses if they were MP's. I know I would, in fact I would probably claim a hell of a lot more, so I am quite happy for my MP's to claim these expenses because I am in no position to complain.
Vish, UK

When elected as MP's, they make all sorts of promises on how they will change things for the better. Things certainly change for the better for them once they are elected!
Lee, Newport, UK

It is about time in this day and age that when MPs stand for election they tender for the post so that voters can choose somebody who is earning the same as them so that they too feel the pinch if interest rates or petrol goes up.
Alistair Murhead, Perth, Scotland

I used to be an MP, our claims are recorded but not monitored so it's easy to claim for things.
Anon, UK

The shear number of MPs is now alarming.
Philip Carr, Leeds England
The shear number of MPs is now alarming. Why do we need so many if there are now devolved assemblies/parliaments in Wales & Scotland. Surely there is a case for reducing the numbers of MPs in the House of Parliament
Philip Carr, Leeds England

No surprise really. Ever since MPs severed the link with Civil Service pay - because it wasn't growing fast enough for them - they've been riding on the gravy train. If Gordon Brown wants to save the public some money, how about cutting back on these largely faceless bureaucrats and not the front-line services people actually use.
Dave Sharp, London, UK

What job in the world allows you twice as much in expenses as your actual salary? Surely they are living off the expenses in that case and keeping their salaries for gadgets, cars and other extravagancies?
Mark, UK

I think if my expense claims amounted to more than double my basic salary I'd be out of a job. With taxes rising and pensions crashing it's good to see MPs keeping in tune with the real world they expect us to cope with.
John B, UK

Well - presumably we will hear shrieks of protest from MPs that they can hardly live on these allowances - but one thing certainly caught my eye - how come MPs can claim 58p/mile for travel by car when the maximum which the Inland Revenue allows the rest of us is 40p/mile - and isn't this just encouraging MPs not to set a good example to the rest of us, by going by public transport?
David, London, UK

I just bet that there are going to be people complaining about the cushy lives of MP's. Let's get a couple of things straight - £57,000 a year is not that much, especially not in London. Also, many MP's have to run two homes and two offices. Furthermore, British MP's are paid much less than many of their European or US counterparts. Personally, I don't want my MP worrying too much about money when there are more important things to deal with.
Katherine, London, UK

When looking at what MPs cost, we should remember that the single biggest item of expenditure is the staff budget
Dominic, London
I work for an MP and, like most researchers, get paid less than we would do if we worked in the private sector. When looking at what MPs cost, we should remember that the single biggest item of expenditure is the staff budget, which not only doesn't go to MPs but also is shared by up to five people. It's fine to complain about spending £77k on MP's expenses, and perfectly legitimate to say that they shouldn't be allowed to employ people like me. However, if you do argue this, don't expect anyone to pick up the phone when you call your MP; don't expect to be able to arrange a meeting with him/her as they'll have no secretary; and don't expect anyone to deal with your housing problem when you walk into their office, because they won't have a caseworker. Having said this, being able to employ members of their own family is a disgrace and should be banned.
Dominic, London

When I worked as a civil servant there were strict rules on what you could claim. All receipts had to be produced and were subject to stringent checks. We were not allowed to be extravagant, and first class travel was not allowed until you reached a senior grade - even then it was discouraged. I consider MPs to be public servants who should have their salaries aligned to an appropriate civil service grade. Their expenses claims should be subject to the rules and regulations which apply to civil servants.
Jane, Egham, UK

I think MPs should be paid whatever the current national average is. They should not be allowed to re-claim daily expenses such as travel to work or daily lunches etc. I bet it would change their opinion of how the average family have to live and they would probably be more inclined to try and improve the situation.
Glenn J, UK

Shocking that these people get so much and do so little. For a normal worker to get the pensions they get you have to work all your life. MP's incomes should be linked to the their productivity and time they spend actually in parliament and working, not travelling around at our expense.
Jim, Leeds UK

There was a time when we were saying that we had bad Government and low quality MPs because the job didn't pay enough to attract able people so I have no problem with them being well paid, however, ability is not enough, we also require the very highest standards of integrity from our elected representatives and if any of them, no matter how senior, have been fiddling their expenses in any way they should be barred from seeking further election.
Keith L, Rayleigh, England

This doesn't include the extra money they earn from consultancies, seminars and writing etc
Sarah Mason, Liverpool, UK
This doesn't include the extra money they earn from consultancies, seminars and writing etc. Maybe more should draw only the UK average salary........and see how normal people live
Sarah Mason, Liverpool, UK

The obvious question is do we need 659 MPs? Duplication of effort must happen within the devolved Parliaments. An English Parliament would require a smaller number of MPs. It seems that the amount of work and attendance in Parliament varies enormously between individuals. The remuneration is excessive for what appears to be a non-accountable pursuit.
Tony M, Portsmouth, UK

Why not publish their expenses on a web site? I'm sure they have nothing to hide. I'll build the site free of charge
Dave, Leeds

Overpaid, overweight (mostly!) - a complete waste of space. I'm surprised that more fuss wasn't made of where they all were during now infamous fox hunt break-in!
Tony, London, UK

If they overspend like this simply running their own small offices, then maybe this explains why they over spend and under perform running things like the NHS, and other governmental money-black-holes.
Paul Sealey, Cannock, England

It is obvious that the expenses must be sufficient for the job to be done efficiently. It is obvious that nothing will undermine confidence in MPs more than evidence that the system is being abused.
J Westerman, Leeds, UK

I think it is an excellent idea. It's our money they're spending, they are spending an awful lot of it and why shouldn't we know what's going on! It amazes me that this has gone on behind closed doors for so long anyway!
Laura, Thornton

I think that £57,000 is not enough. Given that expenses are just that: expenses, and not extra money in the pockets of the MPs, then the salary does not seem enough for someone in such an important and responsible position. Big business bosses can get paid six or seven-figure salaries; surely the work of an MP is more important?
Chris, London, UK

What a great idea - once the press gets the real picture of what our politicians are spending and assuming that the more outrageous claims are made very public then hopefully much of this gravy train will dry up.
Ash M, London

Along with guaranteed pension, heavily subsidised food & drink at Parliament and any number of outside jobs taking up many days where they should be working for their money? A total scandal.
Allan, Surrey, UK

It made me weep when I heard these figures. It is an outrage that some MPs are trying to justify these obscene amounts. I don't claim all my incidental expenses as it is a drain on the company. I wish our MPs would do the same. Talk about a meal ticket!
Richard I Stone, Suffolk, UK

If they didn't bleed so much out of the system perhaps fewer of us would have to lose our jobs
Andy, St Annes, England
As a member of staff at the DWP where 40,000 of us are earmarked for the axe I feel very strongly about that. MPs looking after themselves with no regard for the beggars working to deliver their policies - If they didn't bleed so much out of the system perhaps fewer of us would have to lose our jobs. Time for the MPs to see if job losses for the many is right to protect the rights of the rich MPs - I don't hold out any hope.
Andy, St Annes, England

What a surprise MPs found sticking their nose in the trough at the taxpayers' expense. Nice work if you can get it.
David, UK




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