As the controversy over MPs' expenses continues with fresh revelations in the press and a row over the Speaker's recent intervention, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, has weighed into the argument accusing parliamentarians of “clawing greed”.
His comments came in the News of the World newspaper, a down-market tabloid.
Lord Carey declared: “The moral authority of Parliament is at its lowest ebb in living memory. The latest revelations show it was not just a few MPs with their noses in the trough, but a culture of abuse."
He continued: "It is not just the clawing greed of painstaking claims for such minor items as tampons, barbecue sets and bathrobes, but also the egregious way some have transferred allowances from one second property to another – enabling them to refurbish homes at public expense, then sell them for profit."
The former archbishop said that during a time of financial crisis, the revelations threatened “to be the straw that broke the camel’s back”.
Lord Carey also said he was concerned that the revelations could damage the reputation of Parliament so much that it could put people off wanting to become MPs.
He wrote: "Let us not forget there was a time when to become an MP was seen as a noble and honourable way of serving your country … Ask yourself now whether men or women of integrity from whatever walk of life will want to touch political office."
The BBC has detailed the information published so far about MPs expenses here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8039273.stm
All three main party leaders have now made public apologies for the system and for the way in which some have exploited it to the hilt. But the row shows no signs of abating as the Telegraph newspaper, which appears to have payed an undisclosed large sum of money for some of the details, continues to leak material into the public domain.
Some MPs are contesting the reporting or interpretation of their claims. Others are refusing interviews or have apologised.