• Author:Ben Jones
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Weekly News- Tory candidate lambasts parliamentary expenses culture

http://www.runcornandwidnesweeklynews.co.uk/runcorn-widnes-news/runcorn-widnes-local-news/2009/05/14/tory-candidates-lambasts-parliamentary-expenses-culture-55368-23613894/

TOO many politicians are enriching themselves at taxpayers’ expense, says Ben Jones, the Conservative candidate for Halton at the next General Election. Mr Jones fired a verbal broadside against MPs who are milking the system and digging deep into the pockets of irate taxpayers. He’s announced a five-point pledge to win back the trust of an electorate fuming at the ‘snouts in the trough’ attitude of some MPs.

In his personal blog on his election campaign, he says: “MPs’ expenses have been in the news and the conduct of some MPs has attracted deserved criticism.”

Mr Jones says if he were elected, he would:
– Be completely open about all of his expenses and allowances, publishing full details each year;
– Only claim expenses for costs incurred doing his job as an MP, such as travel costs and office allowances;
– Provide receipts for all his expense claims;
– Not employ any members of his family; and
– Only claim expenses in relation to a second home if they were genuinely incurred.

He said: “The voters of Halton have a right to know how I’d behave as their MP and a right to know how all MPs are spending their money. Complete openness is the least they deserve.

“Recent events confirm my long-standing view that a culture change is needed in Westminster to regain public confidence in politicians when it comes to their expenses. I’m pleased that Sir Christopher Kelly has brought forward his committee’s inquiry but the time has come for more than a change of system and rules, but for a change in culture and approach.

“I’ve entered politics because I believe in public service. I want to make a contribution to my country and work for something greater than self-interest. The vast majority of MPs enter politics for the same reasons. But MPs now need to take responsibility for the mess that is parliamentary expenses and prove that is the case.

“Let’s be clear – MPs should claim expenses or allowances only when they incur a legitimate cost and have receipts to prove it, not because they are ‘entitled’ to claim them.

“The culture of claiming allowances because they are on offer and are seen as a salary top-up has to end. For those of us who only claim expenses we incur doing our jobs, the Westminster system is hard to stomach.”