IT seems that any time the words “MP” and “expenses” are mentioned together folk go into a frenzy. The recent news highlighting the increase in office budgets for MPs was no exception (MPs able to claim up to £10,000 for home-working expenses,, April 9).

While it is entirely legitimate to be sceptical about more expenses going to MPs’ offices, particularly given the scandals we’ve witnessed in recent years, it’s important to read past the headlines and recognise the importance of such a move.

READ MORE: MPs able to claim up to £10,000 for home-working expenses

MPs and their staff, many of whom are completely apolitical, on a day-to-day basis assist individuals and families hit by some of the most brutal of austerity policies and, with the outbreak of the coronavirus and the implications of the lockdown, are now busier than ever. It’s important that, throughout this crisis, MPs and their staff remain available to constituents, and measures brought in to allow that should be welcomed. It is true that £10,000 is a massive sum of money that may be entirely excessive, but the likelihood of many, if any, MPs using this entire sum is, I would wager, very low.

There seems to be a misunderstanding that this money is topping up MPs’ already large wage packets when this couldn’t be further from the truth. This is strictly an increase in office budget for MPs that allows them to purchase more equipment for their staff. This is not a political issue and if people do have concerns about how this money is being spent, if it is at all, then they can check their MP’s register of expenses when it is published and question them directly.

Declan Blench

IF anyone still believes that “we’re all in this together”, the latest self-rewarding wheeze from Westminster shouts loudly and clearly that we are not.

Just why are MPs being given an extra £10,000 for working at home?

Are they so ill-paid that they need help with their energy bills? Are they worried about where their next taxpayer-subsidised meal is coming from? Are they traumatised by having no access to Westminster’s numerous cheap bars for the clubbable? Is it too much to ask that they donate this bounty to the NHS?

I expect all of Scotland’s MPs to lead by example in this.

Katherine Campbell Longmuir

IAIN Duncan Smith instigated a reign of terror over the lives of sick and disabled. He laughably called this welfare “reform”. This lead to a massive increase in food bank referrals . Duncan Smith denied this reality and accused the Trussel Trust of “scaremongering”.

When the film I, Daniel Blake was released, Tory party chairman James Cleverly denied that it represented reality.

The UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty condemned Tory austerity. He said it brought misery to millions and Tory ministers were in a “state of denial” about this.

During the horsemeat scandal David Cameron denied that his cuts to the Food Standards Agency had anything to do with the fact it was not detected earlier.

In 2016 the Tories carried out Operation Cygnus, which was a trial run for a pandemic in London. This showed the NHS was woefully unprepared for the current Covid-19 outbreak. The Tory response was not to invest but to bury the report and cut NHS beds in England to their lowest ever.

So the Tories knew what was coming but did nothing. This is not just negligence but criminal. In 2017 they cheered when they denied NHS workers a pay rise. The Tories are secretly planning to sell off the NHS as part of a post-Brexit trade deal to the USA.

From 1958-62, China under Chairman Mao decided to undertake The Great Leap Forward. It was a disaster and millions died. But it was not deviated from as it was based on ideology; ie the method behind the madness.

For 10 years the Tories have like Chairman Mao followed their crackpot ideology no matter what the cost to society.

Of course the Tories are all about giving money to the cronies and the donors. They have given their pals in the City of London a bigger bailout than in 2008.

Having plundered the Treasury, the imperative of the fat cats is to send workers back to the job of making them money.

Alan Hinnrichs

BEING tied to computers, today’s journalists would not recognise how news was gathered in the past. Many scribes had a drink problem. That wasn’t because of the pressures of work, it was because of the amount of time they had to spend in pubs rooting out stories. They travelled everywhere by taxi because drivers were good sources of tip-offs.

Expenses were unlimited. Police contacts would feign surprise at a gift of a decent bottle of single malt at Christmas, no doubt some would look for more.

READ MORE: The closure of newspapers signals dark times ahead

These were the days of huge rivalry. At the height of competition, circulation drives would sharpen the intrigue of the day, with reporters surreptitiously tailing each other. The reasoning which still stands today was to extensively cover a given area, turning up exclusives that would boost circulation. Exclusives sell papers.

Amongst the dailies there was always a code of honour and decency. After the tragic sinking of a fishing boat, pic collects from grieving families were handled with great care, however one Sunday tabloid turned up wearing a priest’s collar and came away with the family album.

The print media has been in decline for years and for many, coronavirus could be the last straw. As Shona Craven predicts dark times ahead (April 10), perhaps a return in part to the values of on-the-hoof journalism, with talking to real people face to face, might just save the day.

Mike Herd

Scotland is in lockdown. Shops are closing and newspaper sales are falling fast. It’s no exaggeration to say that the future of The National is at stake. Please consider supporting us through this with a digital subscription from just £2 for 2 months by following this link: Thanks – and stay safe.