THE time has come for complete clarity from our MPs.
The expenses controversy deepens daily and came close to home yesterday with Dewsbury MP Shahid Malik’s resignation as Justice Minister.
The national mood is now one of deep suspicion of all MPs. There has been too much backtracking, too many handed back cheques.
It goes across all parties. The public could be forgiven for thinking all MPs exploit the system – that the expenses culture is deeply engrained in our political way of life.
The only way to put the honour back in ‘honourable’ MP is for them to reveal their expenses now.
If they have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear.
We know you, our readers are angry.
So we have contacted the six MPs who cover the Kirklees and Calderdale areas and asked them to reveal their expenses.
They were due to be published in July but that date has now been overtaken by events.
We have had responses from them all and although two have pledged to reveal all next week, none have so far given total access to their expenses.
The casualty in all this is public confidence.
The MPs under scrutiny last week claimed they acted ‘within the rules’ and that it’s the system that is flawed.
It just begs the obvious question – just how long has this system been flawed? How historic is all this? And where does personal responsibility come in?
There are MPs over the years who have gained a reputation for being forthright and public defenders of the public purse.
So why haven’t they brought all this out into the open before?
The more this all goes on the more questions it begs – and so far answers seem in short supply.
It is certainly not enough for an MP who has been caught out to simply pay some back – even while protesting innocence.
Faith in our Parliamentary system has been shaken to its foundations.
The only way that can be built up again is for the MPs themselves to take decisive and clear action.
And they must publicly right what is perceived to be a great wrong on the people who put them in those lucrative posts in the first place – the British voter.
For the General Election will soon be looming large and the revenge will be taken in the cold light of day – at the ballot box.
We asked the MPs whose expenses have not been revealed to identify their first and second homes for us - and show us their expenses.
All are listed, complete with their answers, below.
Expenses for 2007/08: £160,353
Elected: Barry Sheerman, 69, was elected as the MP for Huddersfield East from 1979-83 and became MP or Huddersfield at the 1983 general election.
Current majority: 8,351, despite a swing of 7.1% to the Lib Dems. Previously his majority had been much higher – 10,046 at the 2001 general election.
How many staff? Three at his Cross Church Street constituency office. The number of staff Mr Sheerman has in London is not yet known.
Posts in Westminster: Chairman of the select committee for children, schools and families.
Homes: A flat in Almondbury plus a London flat. Details of which is his first and second home are not yet known.
Can we see your expenses? Not yet known. Mr Sheerman was out of the country last week. A spokeswoman said the MP was currently going through thousands of documents to black out personal details of his staff from the forms.They are expected to be handed back around May 21.
Expenses for 2007/08: £145,345
Elected: Calder Valley 1997
Current majority: 1,367
How many staff? Five, four full-time equivalent
Posts in Westminster: Human Fertilisation Embryology Bill Committee, Forced Marriage (civil protection) Bill Committee, Female Genital Mutilation Bill Committee
First home: Hebden Bridge
Second home: Lambeth, South London
Can we see your expenses? Maybe, if satisfied by data control set by Parliament
Batley and Spen Valley
Expenses for 2007/08: £144,984
Elected: 1997 for Batley and Spen.
Current majority: 5,788 votes.
How many staff? Constituency office: Five – some full-time, some part-time. Not all publicly funded. London: None.
Posts in Westminster: Backbencher.
First home: Batley.
Second home: Lambeth, South London.
Can we see your expenses? Yes. Plans to publish his expenses before the official expenses list comes out in summer, as soon as information is in the correct format.
Expenses for 2007/08: £142,644
Elected: 2005 for Wakefield (includes Kirkburton and Denby Dale)
Current majority: 5154 votes
How many staff? Constituency office: Four full-time equivalent
Posts in Westminster: Member, Yorkshire and the Humber Regional Select Committee, Member, Finance and Services Committee
First home: London
Second home: Wakefield
Can we see your expenses? I hope that the House of Commons can publish my expenses on its website as soon as possible so that the Huddersfield Examiner and my constituents can see what I have claimed.
Expenses for 2007/8: £160,015 including £23,083 additional expenses to stay in London near Westminster.
Elected: 1997 for Colne Valley
Current majority: 1,501
How many staff? One full time member of staff and five part time workers.
Posts in Westminster: Backbencher.
First home: Slaithwaite.
Second home: County Hall, London
Can we see your expenses? No. Plans to wait until the official expenses list comes out in summer.