MP exonerated

SIR – Readers of your issue dated February 11 will have been able to follow the latest developments in the saga of Anne Main s parliamentary expenses claims. As you report, we now have a definitive ruling from the expenses watchdog which exonerates Mrs

SIR - Readers of your issue dated February 11 will have been able to follow the latest developments in the saga of Anne Main's parliamentary expenses claims.

As you report, we now have a definitive ruling from the expenses "watchdog" which exonerates Mrs Main from all taint of deliberate wrong-doing bearing in mind the abysmal quality of the advice which, as a new MP, she received from the officials at the Fees Office.

Accordingly, the preponderant element in the financial settlement required of her is now reduced to a sum of �5,000 to take account of the "emotional benefit" she is judged to have derived from having her daughter to stay at the constituency residence (although how a pecuniary value can be placed upon Mrs Main's feelings for her daughter is beyond my comprehension).

Let us hope that this will put an end to the sort of letters which have appeared in your columns on this topic, in which a good deal of phoney indignation has been expressed by persons who, we may assume, have their own political axes to grind.


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The inescapable fact is that none of our political parties can take any comfort from the fiasco over the parliamentary expenses and benefits wrongly claimed by over 400 of our MPs. Some of our local Liberal Democrat and Labour spokesmen were predictably swift in rushing to judgement in Anne Main's case but their own parties' MPs are now on the hook for substantial repayments of expenses allowances which should never have been drawn. Gordon Brown, for example, must reimburse as much as �12,888 (and there are 19 other MPs who are in even worse case than he).

Unless we are disposed to give up on politics and politicians altogether, the only logical response to what has occurred is to accept the proposed basis of settlement and move on. With a General Election imminent, I would suggest that we should be addressing our minds to more substantial matters than what has now become a dead issue.

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DONALD S MALKINSON

Allandale, St Albans

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