The Government has announced that there is to be an inquiry into David Cameron’s involvement with Greensill Capital.
The inquiry needs to be both thorough and rigorous. It will, in part, examine whether Greensill Capital’s access to the Coronavirus Large Business Access Interruption Scheme put public money at risk. Sadly, it seems that public money is being put at risk daily. MPs from all parties give the appearance that they see public money as being for their use by right, a mindset that is the financial equivalent of a medieval lord’s droit du seigneur.
Between April and November 2020 Conservative MPs claimed almost £3m in housing rent and expenses. 42 Conservative MPs claimed rent or expenses while at the same time renting out other residential properties for at least £10k per year. This at a time when the Government is freezing the local housing allowance (LHA) meaning that tenants will get the same amount of money as last financial year, even when rates have risen by hundreds of pounds. The Welfare Secretary, Therese Coffey, whose department runs the LHA system, claimed £1885 a month. Similarly, Helen Whatley, Minister for Social Care, claims £3250 a month from the taxpayer, despite earning £113,612 as an MP and Minister.
When the pandemic first struck New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, PM, recognized that the New Zealand people would face some challenging times. She, her senior MPs and Civil Servants took a 20% pay cut for 6 months to show solidarity with the people that they had been elected to serve. Can any of us seriously imagine a similar gesture being made by British MPs? Our MPs, by contrast, appear to be so far removed from the everyday financial reality of their constituents that they have little, if any concept, of how the policies they enact will impact upon their constituents’ daily lives.
When MPs are asked about their financial dealings, they invariably say that they have acted within the appropriate guidelines. Our own MP, Sarah Dines, said much the same when asked about her frequent overnight stays in a luxury 4*hotel in London. We need to remind ourselves, and those elected to serve us, that the guidelines were written by MPs and Civil Servants. They were not handed down by some deity on high. If, as it seems, the guidelines are no longer fit for purpose they need to be rewritten. The sooner the better.
Speaking in 1973 Edward Heath referred to the “unpleasant and unacceptable face of capitalism.” Those presently elected to serve us should take heed of his words.