THE debate about MPs’ expenses claims will probably never totally go away following the revelations three years ago of the abuse by some politicians.
The benefit of that scandal is that there is now far more transparency about what our MPs claim and how much.
There is also more sensitivity around the subject, and the role of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority in monitoring claims provides assurances that expenses are reasonably incurred and reimbursed.
Today we can reveal that the amount claimed by MPs in our area has increased substantially over the past year.
One of the main reasons for this is that they are compared with a 10-month period when there was a General Election.
But even taking that into account, our calculations show there has still been a sharp increase in the amount of money being claimed.
It also shows wide discrepancies between what our MPs claim, with three MPs incurring expenses over £160,000, while others come in more than £30,000 less.
Some MPs actually recorded a decrease in the amount they would have claimed over a like for like period.
Once a year, the total claims are published so you can find out exactly what your MP has incurred while representing you.
As Sir Ian Kennedy, chairman of the standards authority, says: “this is delivering genuine openness - the kind of which was inconceivable just a few years ago.”
And if there is any good that came out of the expenses scandal it is that transparency, with every MP knowing they are open to public scrutiny.
Council needs to allay any fears
FIVE schools have levels of radon gas so high that remedial action is being taken to control it.
That is enough for any parent to be concerned, even though the levels are not thought to be dangerous.
The council and schools want to reassure parents their children are not at risk and, of course, if they were then the schools would have been closed.
However, despite comments from the council that radon is present in every household, there clearly is a problem in five of these schools otherwise remedial action would not be needed.
While there is a problem, what the council and schools need to do is have clear communication to parents to allay their fears.