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Can we ever trust politicians again?

Phil Hope will be hoping his decision to repay his past five years expenses claims will protect his career as an MP.

The 41,709 he will repay is the biggest amount an MP has paid back since the debate unfolded.

Mr Hope says he made the decision with his family because the public anger has been a "massive blow" to perceptions of his integrity.

But some voters say he is only giving back the money in an attempt to keep his seat – he won the last General Election with a majority of just 1,517 votes.

Phil Hope has said how sorry he is to his constituents after deciding to pay back 41,709 he has claimed in expenses over the past five years. Click here to read more.

After days of pressure over his Parliamentary expenses claim, Corby and East Northants MP Phil Hope has apologised to his constituents and said he would pay back the 41,709 he has claimed over the past five years. Click here to read more.

Where has all the bluster gone? Click here to read more.

The Labour Party in Corby has admitted the upset caused by Phil Hope's expenses debacle will not respond to a "quick fix". Click here to read more.

Phil Hope has said his plans to pay back 41,700 in expenses is a purely personal decision. Click here to read more.

Phil Hope has revealed he will pay back more than 41,000 in the latest twist in the MP expenses row. Click here to read more.

Anger over Corby MP Phil Hope's expenses continued as the leaders of both main political parties were forced to make humiliating apologies for some of their members' extravagant claims. Click here to read more.

A political expert at Northampton University has criticised Corby and East Northants MP Phil Hope and his fellow MPs for the way the way they have used the expenses system to feather their nests. Click here to read more.

Kettering MP Philip Hollobone has been dubbed Westminster's cheapest MP in the past for submitting the lowest expense claims in the country. Click here to read more.

Corby and East Northamptonshire MP Phil Hope says he has done nothing wrong in claiming and receiving more than 37,000 to refurbish and furnish his London second home. Click here to read more.

Political experts have given their views about the decision.

Stephen Parsons, a politics lecturer at De Montfort University in Leicester, said: "It would not surprise me at all if MPs have been told it would look a lot better if they did something to pay back some of their expenses. But I think Gordon Brown left it a bit late to lean on them because David Cameron did it first and now it would look like he was just following in his footsteps.

"I think it is more likely to be a case of Mr Hope realising this is looking really bad and that it might be in his interest to repay it."

What is certain is that public outrage was instrumental in forcing Mr Hope's hand.

It is not often that "people power" can have such an impact on Parliament.

The last time it was seen on such a large scale was during the petrol protests in 2000 and before that, the poll tax revolt.

So is the strength of feeling about MPs' expenses as powerful?

Dr Parsons said: "In some ways this is even stronger than that because people have not even had to march or hold demonstrations.

"It has reminded me of the last days of the Major Government. There was a sense then that their behaviour was just not acceptable and verging into illegal.

"When people are in power for too long it can get very corrupt and people get very concerned about the ethical conduct of MPs.

"This has come about from a request through the Freedom of Information

Act. Many MPs were opposed to it and some tried to get it thrown out.

"There is very much a sense of outrage about what they have claimed for and there is a perception that this really is not on.

"MPs regulating themselves is probably not a very good thing to be happening and people are saying it needs to be sorted out.

"I think it will lead to a major shift in the way MPs conduct their business."

Dr Glyn Daly, who teaches politics at the University of Northampton, agrees the wave of public feeling and its consequences for our MPs is unprecedented.

He said the debate that has unfolded could bring about a major change in the way MPs are held accountable.

Dr Daly said: "I think it is very significant. At a time of economic downturn, the public have an absolute right to expect great moral leadership and moral accountability from our democratic leaders.

The public's anger at this is fully justified.

"After all this is something that does affect us all. It is not something we can just put behind us and simply say 'It's one rule for them and another for the rest of us'.

"People are realising that the whole standing of politics and political leadership in this country is simply without credibility unless they address this issue. They cannot think this situation is simply going to go away with a few MPs falling on their swords.

"It needs to be addressed and I would certainly favour a system of rental allowance or even better, why not social housing for MPs?"

 
 
 

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