I know MPs are busy. It takes time to think up inventive ways to maximize their expense claims.
Nevertheless, it might have been helpful if they had spent more time watching the public accounts. If they did, they would quickly realize that tax payments have grown exponentially. Back in 1997, current tax receipts amounted to ₤288 billion; by 2008, this figure had risen to ₤548 billion; an increase of 89 percent.
Some might say "but Alice, you haven't adjusted these numbers for inflation". Well, inflation is a tax. It is an undemocratic sequestration by the government of people's savings. It is a tax on holding money. So it is right to compare the numbers in 2008 with those in 1997.
Next year, tax collection is likely to go fall. Unfortunately, the reasons for the decline are rather unpleasant. The economy is in a tailspin. Firms are closing, and unemployment is rising, and collections are crashing.
Nevertheless, declining tax collection would be welcome if it were matched by equally large expenditure reductions. In fact, the government is increasing expenditure, meaning that today's poor tax collection performance will have to be paid at a later date.
Meanwhile, back in Westminister, our MPs are still busy with the expenses.