The MPs Expenses Scandal

Back in 2009, a scandal rocked British politics. There was outrage and a huge public cry for things to change.

What happened?

To begin with, we must understand something called 'expenses'.

Members of Parliament get paid for doing their job, but they get extra cash to cover things they need to buy to help them to do their job. Examples of things MPs can put on 'expenses' include the travel, accommodation, and computers. It's not fair to expect someone to pay for these things out of their own money.

However...

In 2009, A national newspaper revealed details of some of the things MPs have been claiming for, including dog food, nappies, cleaning swimming pools and even a duck house in the middle of a pond!

It caused outcry across the nation.

This happened just after the financial crisis, when people and the government were cutting spending and making sacrifices.

Seven MPs were sent to jail, some were suspended and others said sorry and paid back the money. It depended on the scale and type of wrongdoing. Some claimed they had just made a counting error. Others said it was within the rules to claim for these things.

Obviously, there were many MPs who did nothing wrong and faced no consequence.

As BBC journalist Emily Maitlis wrote: "The expenses scandal exposed a kind of wholesale wrongdoing. It wasn't about individuals, it was the sense of a systemic rot that people were only just beginning to understand."

Whatever the consequence for individual MPs, the reputation of politicians had taken a big blow.

You can read Emily's full BBC report here, or read a simpler version from Newsround here.



What do you think of this story?

What questions do you have? We have two of the journalists who uncovered the expenses scandal, Jon Ungoed-Thomas and Heather Brook, ready to answer your questions.

Some MPs blamed the system that allowed them to claim for things that weren't needed for their job. Is this a reasonable excuse?

Give your comments below!

Comments (45)

  • The Sherwood School productive_eel | The Sherwood School
    27 Jan 2020

    This is not a reasonable excuse because the system implies that it needs to benefit your objective. To understand it you need to see the basics necessities of a system This system is not to be taken advantage of as it is not helping the country or helping you do your job. If it like the MP's said the system would be protesting against it as you could use it for something else.

    Reply to this comment
    1. Lyons Hall Primary School gregarious_ukulele | Lyons Hall Primary School C
      productive_eel's comment 28 Jan 2020

      I strongly agree with you I love your post I would write that to.

      Reply to this comment
    2. Halsnead logo wonderful_cymbals | Halsnead Primary School
      productive_eel's comment 28 Jan 2020

      I agree with you because

      I agree with you because it is not acceptable to buy something that you weren't supposed to buy and definitely don't do it with someone else's money

      Reply to this comment
    3. Halsnead logo coherent_tree | Halsnead Primary School
      productive_eel's comment 28 Jan 2020

      productive_eel your comment is true and the all the people should see your comment and the news from tom @ the BNC ( BURNER NEWS CLUB) Thank the police man back in 2009 for arresting the MP. And thank you for making this news tom your welcome tom!!

      Reply to this comment
  • Halsnead logo amiable_panther | Halsnead Primary School
    28 Jan 2020

    This is an example of true selfishness.An also it is lazy to get someone else to clean your pool for you!I bet after that many people didnt trust the MPs

    Reply to this comment
  • Halsnead logo crafty_fish | Halsnead Primary School
    28 Jan 2020

    The MPs stole money which is wrong they have had many excuses 7 MPs have been jailed hopefully it doesn't happen again

    Reply to this comment
  • Halsnead logo committed_music | Halsnead Primary School
    28 Jan 2020

    this is not a reasonable thing to say just because there famous like member of parliament doesn't mean you can spend other people savings and not pay anything it is like saying I can have what I want for three like a lamboghini and a 5000000 pound mansion and a swimming pool in and a hot tub

    Reply to this comment
  • Halsnead logo analytical_bee | Halsnead Primary School
    28 Jan 2020

    no you should use it out of there owen money

    Reply to this comment
  • Halsnead logo persuasive_bell | Halsnead Primary School
    28 Jan 2020

    I`m glad they went to prison because it`s silly the money really was for travelling or computers when really they could just use their wages and just think do they want to use your job plus people will be inspired and then the people need to think the opportunity to be an inspiration is gone and people won`t trust them

    Reply to this comment
  • Halsnead logo coherent_tree | Halsnead Primary School
    28 Jan 2020

    This is not
    the rite thing to do, think about it. Its like if i had 10$ and your freind wanted 5$. Your freind gave you 5$ last week, if you are happy other people will be happy like you! That is a example of kindness and sharing sharing is caring team work makes the dream work! reply to this comment if you agree

    Reply to this comment
  • Halsnead logo distinguished_fact | Halsnead Primary School
    28 Jan 2020

    This is bad for the country and also people . there wasting it on things they shouldn't . people don't have enough money to buy food or drink.

    Reply to this comment
  • Halsnead logo hopeful_city | Halsnead Primary School
    28 Jan 2020

    I have only just learnt about the scandal and I am very shocked about that is how our MP's would behave, and it is supposed to be about their job but they dragged their family life into it, causing 7 people to go to jail.
    I am so shocked that I am going to research the scandal on google tonight .

    Reply to this comment
  • Halsnead logo diligent_strawberry | Halsnead Primary School
    28 Jan 2020

    This scandal is very bad for every country that have these MP's because those people seem very selfish from what I have read, when you are a member of parliament you can not think that you can buy what you want. It is not helping you or your country if you where to do what these MP's did.

    Reply to this comment
  • Halsnead logo crafty_fish | Halsnead Primary School
    28 Jan 2020

    I'm shocked so I'm going to do some research

    Reply to this comment
    1. Olivia-Avatar.jpg Olivia @ the BNC
      crafty_fish's comment 28 Jan 2020

      Good stuff!

      Reply to this comment
  • Halsnead logo courageous_impression | Halsnead Primary School
    28 Jan 2020

    Why would some one do that? Why would the government exept that? The government is not tacking this seriously!

    Reply to this comment
  • Halsnead logo hopeful_city | Halsnead Primary School
    28 Jan 2020

    People have forgiven our MP's for what is past is past, I sort of agree but there is a part of me that says " why should we forgive them as it could happen again" Also, people usually want to be an MP but I think that if we become those people, we could end up in jail because if there is that temptation to waste the government's money.

    Reply to this comment
  • Halsnead logo healthy_skill | Halsnead Primary School
    28 Jan 2020

    the mp's are very bad people and should be fiered

    Reply to this comment
  • Halsnead logo honorable_date | Halsnead Primary School
    28 Jan 2020

    why would some body do this ?

    Reply to this comment
  • Halsnead logo free_avocado | Halsnead Primary School
    28 Jan 2020

    The MP's are very selfish because they are spending it all on stuff they do not need

    Reply to this comment
  • Halsnead logo triumphant_speech | Halsnead Primary School
    28 Jan 2020

    One MP spent 30,000 pounds what on earth would he need that for he also spent 1450 on a duck house for his pond. he had to pay all the money back and say sorry other MP's done that to but some got sent to jail and some got suspended . They were not very responsible Mp's all of that money could be used for helping the contery because not many had a lot of money then.

    Reply to this comment
  • Halsnead logo analytical_bee | Halsnead Primary School
    28 Jan 2020

    Im piety sure that you should not use the publics money

    Reply to this comment
  • Halsnead logo courageous_painting | Halsnead Primary School
    28 Jan 2020

    I agree because you do not put bad stuff around because they will just take your money away

    Reply to this comment
  • Halsnead logo assured_power | Halsnead Primary School
    28 Jan 2020

    MP Sir Peter Viggers claimed 30000 thousand on expenses how much money is that. Imagine someone spending thousands of pounds of your own money to buy stuff for there self and family how selfish they say they accidently put expenses on stuff like nappies, shopping and decorations for there houses .

    Reply to this comment
  • Halsnead logo affable_ocean | Halsnead Primary School
    28 Jan 2020

    I have Just Read about how much expenses they get and it is ridiculous.

    Reply to this comment
  • Halsnead logo motivated_earth | Halsnead Primary School
    28 Jan 2020

    why didn't the MP,s just pay out of there own money

    Reply to this comment
  • Halsnead logo witty_pear | Halsnead Primary School
    28 Jan 2020

    Why would you buy something and get it back of the govermant

    Reply to this comment
  • Halsnead logo charismatic_significance | Halsnead Primary School
    28 Jan 2020

    I think that they should of paid for things with there own money for e.g MP Sir Peter Viggers claimed 30000 that's to much money you could buy anything I mean anything I could buy a phone ,I pad,computer and you still a load of money!!!!!

    Reply to this comment
  • Lyons Hall Primary School active_swan | Lyons Hall Primary School B
    30 Jan 2020

    In my opinion, I think that they should’ve thought about their actions first because if they kept on spending and spending and not using their own money, then they might not of had enough money to buy and do stuff for our country. Also I think people forgive the MPs to easily because they have done something that they probably knew they should’ve not done. However I also think they should’ve know better and used there own money and not made so much mess.

    Reply to this comment
  • Michael-Faraday-logo-250x250.jpg memorable_orchard | Michael Faraday School
    30 Jan 2020

    I think this scandal is outrageous. But, when an MP fabricates (makes) a new rule they always have to follow it. I think this way as even though MPs make the law, following the rule also would be a good role model for their country and themselves. In other words, we are like sheep while the MP is the sheepdog. However, power can lead to bad behaviour and you can lose your respect because of power. Like Boris Johnson, he queried the Queen she could prorogue Parliament for five weeks, this can result in some of his followers look at him in a more negative angle. Though, the people have the power to choose who is their leader, which then means that the MP has the power. But, politicians are humans also so they will make the wrong choices at times. Hazel Blears had the priority to have the government's money but it got out of hand and ended up spending more than $5,000! It would be the same outcome if you were in her position, though it is variable. Overall, different people have different personalities and you cannot judge that. Since they are professionally trained, politicians should be held to a higher standard as they have gained the respect to be in the position they are now. However, democracy is not a good way to choose a leader as you do not have evidence or reasons why you put that cross. This may result in the leader doing illogical things. Referring back to Boris Johnson, some of you may have voted for him. Now that he is in power and has made that decision, we have not currently accepted what he has done. Moreover, actions say more than your words as they can have bigger effects. Though, MPs and general leaders should be able to have power and still maintain responsibility. For example, Justin Trudeau had the power to be racist but remained responsible for his actions unlike with people like Chris Huhne. Politicians are responsible for what they have done in the past as they had the power to do the action. For example, the scandal in 2009. The MPs did those illogical things in the past but are still responsible. Overall, I say that they are responsible.

    Thank you for reading.
    Memorable_orchard

    Reply to this comment
    1. tom Tom @ the BNC
      memorable_orchard's comment 31 Jan 2020

      Well done for linking your comment to the questions we and examples we are studying in the BNC! What do you mean by Justin Trudeau being responsible for his actions unlike Chris Huhne?

      Reply to this comment
      1. Michael-Faraday-logo-250x250.jpg memorable_orchard | Michael Faraday School
        Tom @ the BNC's comment 04 Feb 2020

        What I mean is that Chris Huhne didn't take responsibility by taking the blame for his crime while Just Trudeau has now matured and acknowledged what he has done was wrong and took the blame.

        Reply to this comment
  • Graveney-logo-250x250.jpg lovable_writer | Graveney School
    03 Feb 2020

    I do not think that blaming the system should be a valid excuse because is something is possible in a system, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should do it. For example, a computer expert might figure out that it is possible to hack into and steal money from a website. However, this obviously doesn't mean that they should be allowed to do so. If the computer expert were tried for it, it could never be a valid excuse. I see no difference between this and the MP expense situation. It can be classed as theft, which is defined by the act of intentionally depriving someone or something. In this case, the MP in question is depriving the people who would have otherwise benefited from this money.
    However, this does not mean that the system should not be reconsidered. If the system has a fault which allows MPs to effectively steal from it, then it is up to the people in charge of that system to prevent that from happening.
    In conclusion, I do not believe that blaming the system is a valid excuse for misusing government money on ‘expenses’.

    Reply to this comment
    1. tom Tom @ the BNC
      lovable_writer's comment 03 Feb 2020

      Thank you for responding directly to this question. If you're an MP who is not in charge of the system, can you use it as a valid excuse?

      Reply to this comment
  • Halsnead logo charismatic_significance | Halsnead Primary School
    04 Feb 2020

    I reaschearched that Saad Hariri prime minister of Lenbanon. Gave more than $16 million to south African model who said they had a romantic relationship . Hariri was not in his office at the time when he sent the money and the transfer dose not appear to have violated any Lebanese or South African laws.

    Reply to this comment
  • Hammond School logo skillful_turtle | Hammond Junior School A
    07 Feb 2020

    Hosni Mubarak
    Stole an estimated $70 billion.
    Mohamed Suharto
    Pocketed up to $35 billion from Indonesia.
    Ferdinand Marcos
    Stole up to $10 billion from the Philippines.
    Leila Trabelsi
    Personal stash: $5.6 billion or more.
    Mobutu Sese Seko
    $5 billion from the Democratic Republic of the Congo
    Joseph Estrada
    Taxpayers won’t miss that $80 million…
    Slobodan Milosevic
    $1 billion, and the guy died before he could pay for it.
    These are just some examples that I found online.
    www.businesspundit.com/10-politicians-who-stole-fortunes/

    Reply to this comment
  • Richmond-Hill-logo-250x250.jpg protective_orange | Richmond Hill Academy
    07 Feb 2020

    Hosni Mubarak
    Stole an estimated $70 billion.
    Mohamed Suharto
    Pocketed up to $35 billion from Indonesia.
    Ferdinand Marcos
    Stole up to $10 billion from the Philippines.
    Leila Trabelsi
    Personal stash: $5.6 billion or more.
    Mobutu Sese Seko
    $5 billion from the Democratic Republic of the Congo
    Joseph Estrada
    Taxpayers won’t miss that $80 million
    Slobodan Milosevic
    $1 billion, and the guy died before he could pay for it. thank you tom for reading my definition

    Reply to this comment
    1. tom Tom @ the BNC
      protective_orange's comment 07 Feb 2020

      Where did you find this information from, protective_orange?

      Reply to this comment
  • Lyons Hall Primary School excellent_lime | Lyons Hall Primary School A
    10 Feb 2020

    I don’t think that the MP’s got the right consequences because some of them got let off for spending the government’s money. Though they said it was an accident and paid back all the money I still think they should get a consequence still.

    Reply to this comment
  • Boutcher-logo-250x250.jpg adaptable_beetle | Boutcher C of E Primary School B
    11 Feb 2020

    its kind of like stealing someones money.

    Reply to this comment
  • CuddingtonCroft-logo-250x250.jpg confident_harp | Cuddington Croft Primary School
    13 Feb 2020

    Were the suspension of the MPs' like a school's suspension ?
    This just sounds like extreme theft of people's money by the government's own employees.

    Reply to this comment
  • Lyons Hall Primary School effervescent_otter | Lyons Hall Primary School C
    13 Feb 2020

    When we learnt about this in class I was amazed of some of the amounts of money stolen and unbelievable story’s about MP’s! I couldn’t believe the things they’d done and as hundreds of thousands of people look up to them some people might lose faith and think if they are stealing why can’t we. Just because MP’s have more power and capability than us doesn’t mean to say they should use it in that kind of way. After all they are role models and influencers to the public. In class a scenario was a royal blowing a raspberry out of the window and after a debate we realised the responsibility and faith trustful MP’s need to have. Once it’s done it’s done.

    effervescent otter

    Reply to this comment
  • New-Horizons-logo-250x250.jpg fulfilled_starfruit | New Horizons Children's Academy
    13 Feb 2020

    Blaming a system for your own actions cannot be tolerated. If you were wise enough to become an MP, surely you would know the regulations beforehand and even just using your common sense, you would know better to not spend other people's hard-earned money on things you all didn't agree to. Even though I understand computers and systems are sometimes wrong, denying it with lies is not acceptable- especially at this age. Younger children may not know these regulations and can make mistakes, but as you get older, these are rules that you must obey, no exceptions. No excuses.

    Reply to this comment
  • New-Horizons-logo-250x250.jpg fulfilled_starfruit | New Horizons Children's Academy
    14 Feb 2020

    Blaming a system for your own actions cannot be tolerated. If you were wise enough to become an MP, surely you would know the regulations beforehand and even just using your common sense, you would know better than to spend other people's hard-earned money on unnecessary things.

    Even though systems are sometimes wrong, denying ‘the crime’ is not acceptable- especially when you are in a position of responsibility and supposed to be a model citizen for others to follow.

    Younger children may not know these regulations and can make mistakes, but as you get older, these are rules that you must obey, no exceptions. No excuses.

    Reply to this comment
  • Upton-Cross-logo-250x250.jpg methodical_ocean | Upton Cross Primary School
    16 Feb 2020

    An example of an expences scandal is Hazel Bleze (sorry if I spelt it wrong) who used the government money to buy groceries and other pratical things.She spent thousands of pounds for her well being when she could have donated to food banks helped the less fortunate and this is an example of a bad leader but luckily the government weren't letting that happened and Hazel had to pay the money back on national television this just goes go show things come back go back to you good or bad.
    Yours truly methodical_ocean

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