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Parliament on its Knees: MPs' Expenses and the Crisis of Transparency at Westminster



In May 2009, revelations made in The Daily Telegraph about the way that MPs had used and abused the House of Commons expenses and allowances regime threw the British political system into turmoil, forced the resignation of the Speaker of the Commons along with a number of implicated MPs, and ignited talk about a crisis in parliamentary democracy and a collapse of public trust in politics. This article explores the events that led to this situation, from the structure of MPs pay and allowance system, the Freedom of Information context that framed the disaster, and the crisis of transparency which the House of Commons has itself precipitated. It argues that, talk of parliamentary reform aside, MPs must radically rethink the way that they approach their representative role and the nature of their broader engagement with the public they claim to serve.