Inquiry needed into MPs homes

AS a group, MPs have never figured particularly high in public esteem.Many people see them as well-paid celebrities doing work that many others would like to do - there never seems to be any shortage of candidates at election time.

AS a group, MPs have never figured particularly high in public esteem.

Many people see them as well-paid celebrities doing work that many others would like to do - there never seems to be any shortage of candidates at election time.

And they are also well-known for using expenses - travelling by first class in trains all over the country, employing their families as secretaries, and generally costing taxpayers a lot of money.

Now there is more concern over the allowances they can claim for their London homes.


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It is not unreasonable for MPs who live in and represent constituencies in other pars of the country to get an allowance to pay for their London homes while they are working at Westminster.

But it is clear that many, especially long-serving MPs, have been able to use the housing allowances to their advantage to help pay for very large - and valuable - homes in the capital.

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While it is not unreasonable to claim the interest, there really should be some mechanism whereby the state can get some benefit if these homes increase in value.

Of course, the MPs accept some risk if they choose to buy instead of renting - house prices can fall as many discovered in the early 1990s.

But historically, house prices do tend to rise and many MPs who have been in the House of Commons for more than five years have found themselves sitting on a goldmine.

The sensitivity felt by many MPs about discussing this situation is very telling - and Ipswich MP Chris Mole deserves credit for talking about the situation so openly.

What is now needed is an inquiry independent of MPs to look into the whole question of how their London homes are financed.

WATER is a major feature of the county of Suffolk - whether it is the North Sea or the great rivers like the Orwell, Waveney, and Gipping.

It seemed odd that the fire and rescue service was not equipped for water-based operations, and it is very good news for all the residents of the county that this anomaly has now been rectified.

The water is a major element of the largest towns in the county, and with the increasing numbers of people living and working in the Waterfront area it is vital that rescue teams should be fully trained to deal with anyone who gets into difficulties there.

With the restoration of Suffolk's firefighting at sea team and now this new squad being formed, the county should have one of the best-prepared rescue squads in the country, whatever crisis they face.

THEATRE is a vital part of the cultural life of any community - and in Suffolk, Eastern Angles has been one of the shining beacons for many years.

Now its very existence is under threat because of a £100,000 funding cut proposed by the Arts Council - a move which has caused outrage among its supporters across the community.

Eastern Angles has proved a theatre group for the whole county - from its base in Ipswich it takes productions to village and town halls across Suffolk.

Across the county thousands of people will be wishing Eastern Angles well in its battle to persuade the Arts Council to change its mind on funding.

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