There is a snap ICM poll in the News of the World asking about reactions to the latest MP expenses revelations. Rather unsurprisingly, respondents overwhelmingly wanted MPs expenses published in full (91%), wanted them run by an independent body (91%) and thought that MPs standing had been damaged by the revelations (89%). 68% said that their opinion of Gordon Brown himself had been damaged.

Asked what MPs should be able to claim on expenses, 69% thought claiming travel expenses was okay and 59% thought staff costs were fine. Only 29% thought that allowances for a second home were acceptable, around 20% said they should be able to claim for food, 14% house repairs and 11% furniture. 16% said nothing at all.

The poll was conducted on Friday and Saturday with a sample size of only 500, so there won’t be any voting intention. However, I am expecting at least one voting intention poll in the other Sunday papers.

22 Responses to “Snap ICM poll on MPs expenses”

  1. I don’t expect many people to agree with me, but I think this whole expenses thing is being blown out of proportion. The fact is MPs are some of the most important people in the country, making the laws that everyone else has to follow, and I think they should be paid a good salary and I also think they should be able to make quite generous expenses claims. In other countries such as France and Italy ordinary people would be bemused by this whole debate because they take it for granted that members of parliament in their country get a lot of perks. The situation in this country is much better than in most other European countries.

  2. Here’s tonight’s polling news, running on PA – no full figures, but we can work out some of them:

    Published 09 May 2009 – 18:23
    By James Tapsfield, Press Association Political Correspondent

    Labour’s popularity has slumped to its lowest level since polling began amid a series of scandals and renewed speculation over Gordon Brown’s leadership, it was claimed tonight.

    Research for the Mail on Sunday found the party’s support had dropped three points over the past month to just 23% – even lower than when Michael Foot was at the helm in the 1980s.

    The fall gives the Tories a massive 22% advantage, enough for a landslide victory if repeated at a general election.

    The dire position was reinforced by a separate YouGov poll for the Sunday Times, which suggested Labour’s support had tumbled 7% to 27% – 16 points behind the Conservatives.

  3. The “expenses” revelations are astounding.

    The hypocrisy of our MPs is mind bending.

    They legislate for Freedom of Information & fight tooth & nail to stop that legislation applying to their abuse & misuse of our taxes.
    Having lost that battle to conceal their activities, they then try to emasculate the data so that it avoids incriminating detail.
    When that is thwarted by a leak to the Telegraph they call in the cops.

    And these are the people responsible for more & more surveillance of the general public, and retention of more & more data about us all.

    It is abundantly clear now that there has been a property scam which has enabled many of our MPs & Ministers to make large sums of money by selling properties , the cost of which taxpayers have subsidised. This has been facilitated by the constant switching of the designation “main home” & “second home” in order to maximise allowances.

    Moreover, those designations were not consistently in accord with those given for Council Tax purposes-or even, it seems for Capital Gains Tax purposes.

    The final insult is that MP’s expenses are outside the “Benefits in KInd” taxation regime which applies to everyone else-they don’t have to complete P11Ds .

    No-that isn’t the final insult-these MPs wrote the rules for their expenses which say -in terms-that they must not abuse them . Now that we know they abused them they say well the “Fees Office” passed them….and who does the Fees Office work for?-The House of Commons.

    I hope-and expect-that the offenders exposed by the Telegraph will be severely punished by their constituency voters at the next GE.

    I hope-but do not expect -that Party Leaders will expel the worst offenders from any office they hold.

    I sincerely hope that this results in an expenses & remuneration system , installed by a Conservative Government, which removes all influence over it by MPs & passes it to a fully independent body.

    We should all expect & demand that the new expenses system will allow repayment only of moneys expended, wholly, exclusively and necessarily in pursuit of MPs’ duties.

    This should have an effect on voter opinion.
    God knows what it will be.

    Perhaps we should all just refuse to vote.

  4. I think it is perfectly reasonable that MPs can claim allowance for their staff, and acceptable that they can claim travel expenses – they should not be able to claim anything else.

    Their salary is about what it should be – I would not complain if it went up to about £75k – £80k for backbenchers – anything more than that is excessive I would say.

  5. @Andy Stidwill

    Even if we are in a better situation than many other countries, shouldn’t we be holding ourselves to a standard that we set ourselves?

    It is the abuse of the system that people in this poll have found disgusting. The MP for Luton who claimed her second home allowance for a home almost 100 miles away from London? That isn’t a mistake, that’s clearly an intended abuse of the system.

    Yes, they should be paid a large enough salary because they do play an important role. However the problem isn’t the perception that they are getting given too much in their pay or their expenses. It is the fact that they are abusing the system.

    If this was a private company, they would not be allowed anything close to what they get, and if they abused the system and were caught they would get dismissed straight away.

    Although Cameron clearly cannot condemn any of this as his own MPs may have been having a go, I think he should say that he is drawing a line and any of his MPs who abuse the system from now on will be out of a job. Surely thats the only honourable way to go about this?

  6. Firstly MPs must have either considerable expenses, or a sizably greater wage annually. Why? Well in order to prevent a class of propertied representatives from being in existance for perpituaty they must be able to support a representatives life. Keir Hardie, Roy Hattersly and Tony Benn all could never have afforded to be representatives without a decent wage system.

    The reason this has never been adequetly reformed is just that any reform will be a loose loose situation for the reformer; either keep unpopular expense system- though tougher, or increase wages substantially and reduce expenses or even abolish them. Either way the tabloid papers will hype, spin and misrepresent.

    I actually feel for the majority of MPs, who are not there as Derek Conways or corrupts, but actually to serve and better our society. There ought not be a higher calling than to enter political service to our great island nation. There are too many cynical and dull people out there looking for troubles, and stiring up apathy and taking things out of context. Lord Mandelson is right when he said this (gods, I never thought I’d say that!)

  7. Anthony, do you have any news on the polls tonight? Seen on SKY two polls – BPIX (Con 45, Lab 23) and YouGov (Con 43, Lab 27).

  8. I find the prevailing attitude of the public in connection to the salaries and expences of MPs to be astonishingly non-sensical. From these figures, 31% beleive that MPs from right upfrom the North of Sctoland shoudl pay travel expences and 41% believe they shoudl have to pay their staff. MPs are absolutely critical people- they’re wellbeing and decent treatement is essential to the way the country runs. So I really think its fine for Eric Pickles to be able to go to his London flat after he finishes work at 10 or 11 pm rather than travelling 37 miles to Brentwood in the middle of the night.

    MPs are obviously not liek the general public- their responsibility is massive (they have been elected for that purpose) and consequently I find it entirely justifiable that they are treated better than other public servants.

    I wonder how many people would support- if they were asked – taking away all expences AND all salaries from MPs. I believe that many would- and this would simply confirm people’s zealous and monmanical hatred of politicians which stretches beyond rationallity or evidence.

  9. Labour apparently down to 23% with BPIX in the Mail On Sunday. Tories at 45%.

  10. anyone knw of any voting intention polls tonight,

  11. A YouGov poll for the Sunday Times is apparently showing a 16% lead for the Conservatives.

  12. Colin – good points raised.

    It would seem, that it was in MPs’ interests for the property bubble to occur and that it is in their interests now to see property prices rise.

    It is not outside the realms of possibility that this quantitative easing is cheered by Labour MPs because they have money riding on the issue?

    I’d be interested in an investigative piece that covered this.

  13. Dean @ 6:17
    You mean Anthony “Tony” Neil Wedgwood Benn, formerly 2nd Viscount Stansgate, educated at Westminster School, and a third generation MP?

  14. I firmly believe that the MPs should be able to CLAIM NOTHING! That’s where corruption always lies.

    Give them 2,50 per elector (or even £3) (around £150k-£180) plus from 0-5% according bto distance from Westminster (NOTHING up to 25 miles) plus free travel by direct route from constiuency to Wesminster and a london transport freedom pass. The only other thing they get from the state is matching contributions to pensions up to 10% of gross salarty.


  15. The issue is one of trust. There is an explicit contract between an MP and constituents – the manifesto. In it, the MP says that he/she will represent the best interests of the electors. The electors agree to pay the taxes that fund the MP’s salary and expenses.

    Those expenses are restricted to what is required to conduct the business of that MP at Westminster, i.e those costs which exceed what that MP would pay if he/she were able to conduct their business from their home in the constituency.

    Anything which does not fit within those limits should not be claimed- doing so is not only fraudulent but a breach of contract. This poll is therefore showing not merely an unhappiness with the standards of the MP’s but a deeper dissatisfaction with the electoral contract.

    I feel that could have significant repercussions for incumbent MP’s, potentially even offsetting the incumbency advantage. To gauge the potential impact, it would be worth looking at the Newt Gingrich anti-establishment campaign of the 199’s and the Barack Obama time for change in 2008.

  16. Perhaps MP’s should be on performance-related pay.

  17. Jen-the connection between the MPs’ propert scam & the price bubble had not occured to me-very interesting thought.

    Guido is about to explain in detail how it was done-using the “Hoon” model.

    I am beyond contempt for these people .

    “Honourable” members-what a joke.

  18. Eric Pickles was ridiculed for saying that he shouldn’t be expected to get up at 6 in the morning after getting home late the previous night because a lot of ordinary people have to do exactly that every day in order to get to work. But the fact is that MPs are not just ordinary people, no matter how unfashionable a thought that might be these days, and I think it’s right that Eric Pickles should be able to live closer to parliament if it means helps him to do his job better. There is a sort of puritanical idea of equality in Britain today which seems to say that people in important positions shouldn’t have it any easier than the average person. I don’t agree; I think people in responsible positions should receive certain benefits that the rest of us don’t get. Of course, if they break the rules they should be dealt with in the appropriate way.

  19. The entire system needs to be revised, but we need to bear in mind the following:

    – We should demand high standards of our MPs, and therefore should be prepared to pay them accordingly.

    – MPs need staff with whom they can work closely and whom they can trust. They should be free to choose their staff (including relations), but their salalries and contracts should be managed / paid centrally.

    – MPs are expected to work both in their constituency adn in Westminster. Some provision for a second home is tehrefore required. The most practical solution is to state that their first/family home should be in their constituency. The House can acquire a block of managed / serviced appartment for rent to MPs or pay a rental allowance equivalent for those to who choose to buy / rent anotehr property in Central London.

    – Travel and other reasonable business expenses to ber reimbursed against receipts (air / rail travel and hotels should be booked through a central office in order to take advantage of corporate rates.)

    This would put MPs on the same standing as mid/senior executives in the private sector.

  20. I am amazed at the hypocrisy shown by MPs.

    Firstly, who should be allowed any access to any “accommodation” allowance. It shouldn’t be well over 500 of them. My suggested definition. If 100 of their constituents purchase season tickets to work in London, then the MP should travel likewise. The MP is issued with a 2nd class Annual season ticket, and allowed no expenses or allowances. The MP should experience the same conditions as his commuting constituents.

    Secondly, for those where constituents don’t commute to London, there is an argument that they need accommodation. So copy the system used by Sveriges Riksdag (Swedish Parliament) – Buy some apartment locks, with a mixture of 2,3 & 4 bedroom flats, and offer these to MPs to use.

    If the MP wants to travel first class, or more generous accommodation, they can pay out of their own pocket, like the rest of us.

  21. Link the expenses to the electorate, not to all MPs.

    No-one would complain if the MPs covering the Northern Isles and the Hebrides had a 2nd home allowance. Equally every one should complain if an MP was within say an hour’s drive of London and had a 2nd home allowance.

    Close in MPs gets mileage, further away get air tickets and mileage.

    Basically though increase pay and basically stop all allowances. (Bar, as suggested for the really far distant).