Well, yes, but

But Sir Stuart Bell, who sits on the Members Estimates Committee which the Legg committee will report to, said that asking for repayment for items which had been approved amounted to a change of “criteria”.

He suggested that if Sir Thomas strayed outside his “remit,” then MPs would be justified in refusing to pay money back.

Speaking on Radio 4’s World at One, Sir Stuart said: \”I think many MPs … may feel he\’s not staying within that remit, he\’s not respecting the decisions that were made by the fees office in accordance with the rules at the time.

“Fairness and justice has to apply to Members of Parliament and if there is a suspicion that Sir Thomas is not abiding by the rules and standards at the time, I think the public would accept that some breach of fairness there is not actually proper for our Members of Parliament.\”

Certainly we should support the rule of law. The law under which you can be chargewd or punished is the law extant at the time of the action, not something cooked up retrospectively. However:

I think the public would accept that some breach

Not sure you\’ve quite grasped the public mood here. Still doesn\’t mean you should all be hung from the lamp posts, just because the mob is angry, but I doubt very much that the public are likely to accept anything of the sort.

3 comments on “Well, yes, but

  1. The problem is a variance between what the rules were, and what the MPs in conivance with the Fees Office allowed them to become.

    The Rules stated quite clearly that the expenses being claimed had to be (not verbatim) WHOLLY AND EXCLUSIVELY necessary for carrting out the duties of an MP.

    So THAT is the criteria which Sir Bell should apply to his “moving the goalposts” statement.

    No sympathy here.

    Alan Douglas

  2. Exactly as Alan Douglas says.

    If I claim dubious expenses from my company and get them passed, that doesn’t mean I am now immune from a subsequent audit.

    You may as well argue fraudsters can only be convicted if they are caught in the act, not subsequently.

  3. If the “victims” were normal people, I’d happily take a stand for the rule of law, but I’ve always thought that those who placed themselves above the common herd in order to run their lives should be held to a much higher standard of behaviour.

    So let the retro-active fines be imposed and then let the tumbrils roll.

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