Should MP’s claim double glazing on their expenses?

The Labour MP for Warwick and Leamington Spa, James Plaskitt was recently asked by Kevin Unitt, a reporter for his local newspaper the Leamington Observer, where any profits should go when he comes to sell his flat in future. Labour MP James Plaskitt replied “I put a substantial sum down of my own money to buy it, and have carried out considerable improvements out at my own expense, such as replacing single with double glazing, so part of any profit should surely come to me.”

Fair-play to James Plaskitt, as I suspect many Members of Parliament will have claimed for replacement double glazing as part of their MP expenses. Given the substantial improvement energy saving, energy efficient windowsbrings to a property, I do not believe that MP’s should be allowed to claim double glazing on their expenses.  Not only does most high quality modern double glazing improve the look of any property, it increases it’s saleability and therefore increases the value of the property. If they then sell the refurbished property for a profit, it is too complicated to work out/agree who should get what out of the sale if MP’s have claimed double glazing on expenses. Consequently, in my personal view, if MP’s therefore want to do up their second homes they should use their own funds, and not taxpayers money. 

All MP’s are facing a hard time trying to justify any of their expenses claims at all at the moment, and James Plaskitt MP is no different. Commenting on the issue on his website he states “MPs’ expenses have dominated the news bulletins in recent days. I have been totally shocked and appalled by some of the allegations. It beggar’s belief how a small number of MPs have claimed for completely unjustifiable costs. But I want to reassure all my constituents that I have always followed the letter and the spirit of the rules.”

This is one MP who is trying to quell local anger and questions by going public. As says on his website “My full expenses receipts will be published by the House of Commons in a few weeks. I have copies of these receipts in my office, but I can’t publish them yet because I am legally obliged to remove personal data – addresses, bank account numbers and signatures, both for me and my staff. The stack of photocopied sheets is about two feet high so it’s quite a job! But I’ve invited the local media to my office to go through all my receipts with a fine-tooth comb and report on anything they find. I believe in total transparency on this issue. People have a right to know how I spend public money, which is why I’ve always published my expense accounts and I welcome the reform of expenses which is urgently needed.”

Unfortunately all MP’s seemed to have been tarred with the same brush, and I certainly would not want to be an MP, now or in the future, as it will take a clear out and an open and transparent track record of years of good behaviour it seems, before the public may once again trust their elected representatives. I do hope the local MP’s in our region of Bucks, Berks, Herts, Oxon. and Middlesex have not claimed double glazing on their expenses, as if any of them have, then they will have a lot of explaining to do what they plan to do with any profits they make from the sale of any second home.


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