Even less in an Uber…
A reader writes:
My fantastic girlfriend bought me afternoon tea on the Palace of Westminster terrace as part of a surprise weekend in London for my birthday on Saturday 18th July. As we waited in the Central Lobby at 1:50 pm, I was asked by a security guard if I “was part of Keith Vaz’s group”. I replied that I certainly wasn’t, then we were asked to move to one side and a large party was waved through, about 50-60 people heading towards the terrace.
A rather hassled usher explained to a visitor next to us that Keith Vaz had “booked in a large group right at the last minute” and that he “is always doing this”.
When we were let through after a delay, we were shown to an inside room along with the other approx. 50 people who had tickets. The waiter explained that we were inside because there was an MP’s party using the terrace. I didn’t mind too much and still enjoyed the time, but my girlfriend was really disappointed that we were not outside on the terrace by the river as she planned.
I know this is really small beer, but thought I would write to you on the off-chance. Maybe you have some other information this adds to or it will lead you to something. It wouldn’t surprise me if Vaz is at the very least using his perks to the absolute maximum- quite possibly beyond. Who are these large parties on the terrace and why so many of them? If Parliament’s a gravy train he’s always struck me as being in First Class.
Vaz really thinks he can get away with anything…
UPDATE: Guido understands that TV chef Ainsley Harriot put in an appearance and that there was Zoomba dancing. Naturally…
IPSA has revealed the roll call of shame of MPs who begged for more cash in the pay rise consultation. Only four had the balls to go on the record:
“I know I speak for the silent majority (who are not millionaires) to say this increase is well overdue… I hope common sense will prevail and this pay rise will be honoured.” Tobias Ellwood MP
“I am supporting IPSA’s recommendations as they have been done independently of Members.” Keith Vaz MP
“IPSA… must work totally free from government influence.” Mark Field MP
“In my view IPSA was established precisely to take away the responsibility of this sort of decision from the hands of MPs… MPs were traditionally unpaid. And parliament predicted when salaries were introduced that it would be a source of continual public disappointment and anger, as it has been… My fundamental conclusion is that an independent body such as IPSA is now and should be in the future the appropriate body to make recommendations – not MPs themselves. I believe IPSA has conducted serious research and comparisons. I believe they are in a better position than MPs to be objective. I would accept their recommendation.” Rory Stewart MP
At least they had the nerve to stick their necks out, unlike the silent majority who quietly accepted the rise…
“MPs’ pay will rise to £74,000 as part of a package of changes to their remuneration,” IPSA confirm this morning: “The pay rise will be backdated to 8 May 2015″.
The expenses watchdog are spinning that this is a good deal for the taxpayer because the new rules mean MPs “can no longer claim for the costs of hospitality, evening meals, taxis home from Westminster when working late”, and the scandal of resettlement payments has been ended. That hardly makes up for the public sector pay cap-busting 10% hike.
Here is IPSA chief Ian Kennedy:
“Parliament gave IPSA the power to deal with the vexed issue of MPs’ pay – independent of Parliament and Government. Pay has been an issue which has been ducked for decades, with independent reports and recommendations from experts ignored, and MPs’ salaries supplemented by an opaque and discredited system of allowances.
“We have made the necessary break with the past. We have created a new and transparent scheme of business costs and expenses, introduced a less generous pension scheme, where taxpayers contribute less and MPs make a higher contribution, and scrapped large resettlement payments. We have consulted extensively on MPs’ pay, and with today’s decision we have put in place the final element of the package for the new Parliament.
“In making this decision we are very aware of the strongly held views of many members of the public and by some MPs themselves. We have listened to those views. We have made an important change to the way in which pay will be adjusted annually. Instead of linking MPs’ pay to wages in the whole economy, it will be linked to public sector pay.
“Over the last Parliament, MPs’ pay increased by 2%, compared to 5% in the public sector and 10% in the whole economy. It is right that we make this one-off increase and then formally link MPs’ pay to public sector pay.”
Celebratory subsidised drinks on the terrace later?
Earlier this year, Guido revealed Labour MP Sarah Champion’s £17 expenses claim for a poppy wreath.
Then top Miliband aide John Cruddas was caught putting funeral flowers on the taxpayers’ tab.
Now the Tories are at it too.
Wealthy Stephen Hammond rakes in £67,000 a year as the MP for Wimbledon. He also owns a luxury £500,000 second home in Portugal, complete with a swimming pool.
That didn’t stop the rotund miser from filing a £4.50 expenses claim on Remembrance Sunday last year for “mileage” to drive, in his own car, to “two Remembrance services” within his constituency.
This is what greedy Hammond said about MPs’ pay in the last parliament:
“An MP salary should be linked to a public sector job of similar responsibility such as a GP. Official figures I have been shown put the average salary for a GP at over £105,000.”
At least then maybe he’d be able to find the cash to honour our heroes from his own pocket.
Continuing Guido’s series of troughing new MPs who are already employing family members on the public payroll, meet the new Tory MP for Eastbourne.
At her selection, Caroline Ansell revealed that her husband Nick would be giving up his full time job as a teacher if she was elected as an MP to look after their three boys.
A noble commitment.
Yet, just two months since she came to Westminster, Caroline has declared:
“I employ my husband, Nicholas Ansell, as a full time Personal Assistant.”
Guido asked Caroline why the change of heart, but alas she declined the opportunity to comment. Only a cynic would suggest that Nick’s role as a house husband was being subsidised by the taxpayer…
Awkward, via PA:
Iain Duncan Smith had his official credit card suspended after running up more than £1,000 in expenses debts, it can be revealed.
The Work and Pensions Secretary was among more a dozen MPs subject to action by the Commons watchdog after failing to show spending was valid.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) issues MPs with credit cards for to pay for items such as travel and accommodation.
The politicians then have to prove the spending was genuine by the end of the month, or they build up debts to the watchdog.
What would the DWP have to say about such a flagrant breach of the rules?
Seems pretty serious: Higher.
Hardly the first time that the words ‘IDS’ and ‘expenses’ have been heard in the same sentence…
Certainly a case for suspending hand outs.
UPDATE: Team IDS get in touch:
“Iain has not had his card suspended. IPSA have confirmed twice in writing that this issue was an error on their part. To be clear no money is owed”
Yet IPSA still insist the credit card was switched off and that they stand by their original claim entirely. So who’s telling the truth?