In the future MPs will be “safeguarded” against alcoholism, drug abuse, watching excessive amounts of porn, and dealing with second homes with the implementation of prepaid expenses cards.
Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham today, Chief Whip, Michael Gove, said: “I have long believed that where MPs have fallen into a damaging spiral – drug or alcohol addiction, even problem pornography, or more – we need to find ways to safeguard them – and more importantly, their constituents, their voters, ensuring their basic needs are met.”
“That means expenses paid should go to support the wellbeing of their constituents, not to feed their destructive habits.”
“I can announce that I am testing prepaid cards, onto which we will make expenses payments, so that the money they receive is spent on the needs of the UK population – finally helping break the cycle of poverty for families on the margins, change we can be proud of.”
Currently alcohol in the Commons is subsidised by taxpayers and MPs can claim for their second homes or building work.
The decision to implement prepaid cards came after a run of scandals surrounding MPs expenses, starting back in 2009.
Not long after there was an expose by The Sun newspaper, which claimed to have found traces of cocaine on House of Commons toilets.
Just last year a charity called Alcohol Concern published a report in which is claims that 1 in 4 MPs felt that there was an unhealthy drinking culture in parliament and found that MPs spend a whopping £1.3m in House of Commons bars in the year to March 2011.
Finally, official records suggest that over 300,000 attempts to access pornography were made from the House of Commons in 2013.
Nicky Aitkins, from Alcohol Concern, said: “For a long time we have been worried about MPs drinking habits, and there have been a long list of MPs who have become alcohol-dependent that help to prove our concerns valid.”
However, critics of the new cards have said that the system would further demonise those working in parliament and normalise a culture whereby MPs are open to criticism.
“I have been getting pissed in the Commons bars for 60-odd years now, and it’s done me no harm,” claims now-retired MP Ken Clarke.
“I’m not sure how I would have managed to sit through those meetings with the Bank [of England] without my morning glass of Scotch,” he added.
Prime Minister David Cameron even weighed into the debate, saying: “There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that MPs drinking alcohol, snorting cocaine or rubbing one out does any damage whatsoever.”
“In fact, considering the fact that these activities are strictly prohibited on visits to the Middle East, I would say that there is evidence that the opposite is perhaps true – that a bump and a wank over a glass of whiskey actually steers us towards the right decisions.”