France's own MPs' expenses 'scandal'

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A Mediapart investigation has revealed that a socialist MP used his parliamentary expenses allowance to pay for family holidays abroad. But his is not an isolated case. Instead, it highlights the near total lack of transparency and control over the way that France's Members of Parliament make use of their generous monthly expenses of more than 6,000 euros. A number of MPs are now calling for greater openness in the allowance system, fearing that an expenses scandal such as the one that hit British MPs in 2009 could engulf them. Meanwhile an anti-corruption organisation warns that an MP who can be shown to have misused their allowances could be prosecuted for misappropriation of public money. Valentine Oberti reports.

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A Mediapart investigation has revealed that a socialist MP used his parliamentary expenses allowance to pay for family holidays and train trips. Pascal Terrasse, a Socialist Party (PS) Member of Parliament for the Ardèche department in south central France, who is seeking a fourth term in June's legislative elections, paid for foreign holidays, train journeys for his family, leisure activities and bar bills out of a fund supposed to be used simply for his activities as a constituency MP. In all, Mediapart estimates that in the last four years Terrasse, who is also president of Ardèche's department council or conseil général, spent around 15,000 euros on family holidays alone out of parliamentary allowances.