Page last updated at 02:36 GMT, Tuesday, 2 June 2009 03:36 UK

Voters believe MPs corrupt - poll

Survey's findings on how many people believe MPs to be corrupt

Almost 50% of people believe at least half of all MPs are corrupt, a BBC survey commissioned in the wake of the expenses scandal suggests.

It also points to strong support among the British public for taking away Parliament's power to police itself.

But the Ipsos Mori poll of 1,001 adults also suggested that most people - 80% - did not just blame MPs but thought the "parliamentary system" was to blame.

Alistair Darling and Geoff Hoon are the latest MPs to repay some money claimed.

Mr Hoon, the transport secretary, is the focus of Tuesday's Daily Telegraph's continuing coverage of claims made by MPs over four years - based on leaked receipts.

'Inadvertent' mistake

He has apologised and repaid £384 of bills claimed for a year at his constituency home in Derbyshire, which was only his designated "second home" for part of the year.

It followed Chancellor Alistair Darling's decision to repay £668 of a £1,000 six-month service bill he claimed for on a flat he moved out of, two months later. He apologised for what Prime Minister Gordon Brown called an "inadvertent" mistake.

Survey's findings on how many people believe MPs to tell the truth

Scores of MPs have faced questions about their expenses claims, ranging from failures to pay capital gains tax and repeated "flipping" of second home designations to claims for moat clearance and a "duck island".

The BBC-commissioned survey, conducted by telephone from May 29 to 31, found that 7% believed all MPs were corrupt, 17% felt most were corrupt and 24% felt "about half" were - totalled up it suggests 48% of people believe at least half of all 646 MPs are corrupt.

However despite weeks of damaging revelations about some MPs' expenses, 47% believed only "a few" were corrupt - and 3% believed none were.

Asked whether they trusted MPs to tell the truth, only 20% said they did and 76% said they did not - up from 60% three years ago.

However the figure was much lower, 44%, when people were asked about their own local MP.

Voter: "They shouldn't be claiming for toilet seats..."

In the wake of the expenses scandal the government has pledged wide ranging reforms of the whole system - including a move to end what Gordon Brown has called the "gentlemen's club" at Westminster, where MPs vote on their own pay and allowances.

Party leaders have moved to set up their own inquiries into claims made by their MPs and to date 13 MPs have announced their intention to step down, since the Telegraph began running its stories.

The survey suggested strong support for taking away Parliament's power to police itself - most adults of voting age, 85% of those surveyed want an independent judicial body to scrutinise MPs' affairs.

And it found that the majority of people, 80%, agreed that it was not just MPs but the whole parliamentary system that was to blame.

Mark Easton
It would be unwise, perhaps, to underestimate the danger we may be in

But 62% said they believed MPs put self-interest ahead of the country and their constituents.

Of those surveyed 79% supported the idea of "recall" - allowing voter petitions to trigger by-elections if they get enough signatures - the best known example of which was Arnold Schwarzenegger's election in California.

The idea that has been backed by Conservative leader David Cameron and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, following criticism that some MPs who have been heavily criticised plan to step down at the next general election, rather than straight away.

Graph showing whose interests people believe MPs represent



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