The constant trundle of new stories about MPs expenses is thoroughly depressing, and the sooner it all gets sorted the better. Have just got off the phone to my mother, who every Friday night has to put up with her friends making cracks about it. This week they were asking if I'd got a new £10k kitchen at their expense (much to my mother's bemusement as she'd spent the past 10 days in Spain visiting my sister and knew nothing about the so-called 'John Lewis' list.)
The main problem, as I've said before, is that every MP's circumstances are different. Those of us who got elected in 2005 will be paying an awful lot more on mortgages or rent on their London flats than people who were elected decades ago and bought properties then. At the moment there's nothing stopping someone who has paid off their mortgage, or has a very small mortgage, from using part of the Additional Costs Allowance (which is about £22-23k p.a.) to buy a £10k kitchen. Very few of the 2005-ers, or MPs who need a second family-sized home rather than the tiny flats most of us occupy, would be in that position. Similarly, some MPs use up every last penny of their Staffing Allowance on their over-worked and under-paid staff, whereas others with a less demanding workload can afford to 'employ' family members to do nothing.
I don't know quite know what the solutions are. I just want it to be resolved soon, not least to stop David "£13m family fortune" Cameron's shameless attempts to make political capital out of it.
P.S. My sister has just reminded me that on 'Any Answers' this week a caller suggested that the state should provide housing blocks for MPs, so we can all live together in the same type of accommodation. Why not go one better, and put us all in dormitories? Or better still, bunk-beds?