MPs and their ‘expenses’ have come under unprecedented public scrutiny. Perhaps we should remind ourselves of the bad old days, when you couldn’t afford to be an MP unless you were a man (certainly not a woman) of considerable means. It wasn’t until 1911 that MPs received an allowance to help with their living costs. Now it seems the pendulum has swung too far the other way. The creativity and ingenuity exercised by some ‘black sheep’ in the House of Commons to maximise their expenses would have been put to far better use solving some of the nation’s dire problems.
Parliamentary papers are an often overlooked and underused resource for family historians; there’s a vast wealth of material available on how our ancestors lived. You can find out more in my latest feature for the May issue of Ancestors magazine.
Image: Interior of the House of Commons, 1834. Engraving from Old and New London, Vol. III, (Cassell, Petter & Galpin, c.1894.)