Allan Massie (Perspective, 30 September) perpetuates the myth that until 2009 “most MPs were playing by the rules then in place”. Not so.
The House of Commons Green Book unambiguously stated that claims must be for expenses “wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred for the purpose of performing your Parliamentary duties, above reproach, with no misuse of public money, and avoiding extravagant or luxurious purchases” – among many other perfectly clear rules and definitions which were flouted or stretched to the limit.
The Fees Office did not enforce its own rules.
Around 400 MPs (a large majority of the non-London MPs) claimed right up to the then limit of £22,000 per annum – hardly coincidental.
In any other body, that would have been regarded under HMRC rules as collusion, particularly if involving those “in a position of trust and responsibility”, and therefore subject to the relevant tax charges and penalties.