It came up a few times on the door step whilst I was canvassing on Saturday morning; exactly as it did in 2009, which did not surprise me one bit. To most indifferent observers, the current culture Secretary Maria Miller’s apology could be described as being an insincere apology at best. The public apology to the House of Commons, last week, came after a committee of MPs intervened to over independent investigators who had probed Maria Miller's expenses. The row over the culture secretary's expenses has dragged on since quietly since December 2012 when the Daily Telegraph reported she had claimed £90,718 in expenses towards mortgage payments on a house in south London that the MP shared with her parents. The parliamentary commissioner for standards, conducted an investigation into the culture secretary's expenses, and ruled she should repay £45,800 but MP’s on the House of Commons Committee on Standards, who have the final say on issues on ethics and disciplinary matters, reduced the amount that needed to be repaid to £5,800.
|An insincere apology at best...|
The 13-strong committee which is largely made up of MPs has three independent members who are not allowed to vote. The authorisation of expenses was transferred to an outside body after a massive public outcry in 2009 about revelations about inappropriate claims made in the past. Despite the public anger, complaints about MPs conduct (including allegations they have abused the expenses system) are investigated by the parliamentary commissioner, who is overseen by the Committee for Standards. The Committee aside from ordering the culture secretary to pay back £5,800, also noted that Mrs Miller's submission of "incomplete" evidence to the inquiry had breached the MPs' code of conduct and said she should apologise to MPs "for her attitude to the commissioner's inquiries". The Committee also released emails which revealed Mrs Miller told the commissioner investigating her that she might go over her head to ask MPs to intervene. The row, if nothing else reveals that the public perception that their still appears to be one rule for some of them (MP’s) and one rule for the rest of us.