News today that Cabinet minister Hazel Blears faces fresh scrutiny over her Paliamentary expenses claims.
Ms Blears sold a flat in Kennington, London, in August 2004 for £200,000, making £45,000 profit. Because the flat had been designated as her “second home” under Commons rules, she was able to claim back thousands of pounds in mortgage interest and running costs, and avoid paying £18,000 in tax.
Ms. Blears said she had not broken any rules but that the system was "wrong". “I have complied with the rules of the House," she said, "and the rules of the Inland Revenue and that’s the situation as it is." However, she acknowledged that the public “hate” the current expenses regime and said a group of “ordinary people” should be involved in drawing up the new system. “I understand entirely why the public hates this. The system is wrong, it needs to be changed. Personally, what I would do is get a group of ordinary people together with the independent body and I would work out a fair system and then everybody sticks to it. I think that’s where we need to be.”
No, Ms Blears, we, the public, do not hate the system - What ticks us off is the fact that the same people who voted the rules in are now claiming that the rules are at fault. What gets up our collective nostrils is that they saw nothing wrong in getting as much personal advantage as they possibly could from the public funds, and now that they've been caught at it, are trying to blame the system rather than their own lack of judgement and integrity.