There is a great scandal at the moment about MP's expenses. Many Members of Parliament seem to have been unscrupulous in their claims. A few look to have been downright dishonest.
As usual, MPs are letting themselves off lightly. In the real world, repaying money you have stolen is not usually considered an adequate penalty.
Judge: Norman Stanley Fletcher you have been found guilty of stealing a great deal of money. However, after you were caught you repaid what you had stolen [or, at least, what the police knew you had stolen]. Consequently, you may now go free.
At the moment it seems that it is being assumed that expenses are the only problem. That some Members of Parliament might have been unscrupulous when claiming expenses, but otherwise they are fine, upstanding ladies and gentlemen.
I doubt it.
If somebody is dirty they rarely confine themselves to one form of dishonest. People are not usually selectively unscrupulous.
I suspect that some of those who have made dishonourable claims have had their hands in other tills.
I think the following needs to happen.
- There needs to be a wider investigation by an external body [possibly by the National Audit Office].
- The police need to investigate those claims that might be fraudulent.
- There needs to be a strong legal penalties for corruption in public office. Parliament needs to stop handing out mild scoldings and some people need to go to prison.