Tuesday, March 18, 2014

IPSA Good Start

IPSA has today announced its latest proposals for reform of the MPs’ expenses scheme. Some of them are not bad ideas, such as publishing MPs’ landlords’ names and addresses each year, publishing details of contingency payments and further scrutiny of MPs’ mortgage interest subsidy and capital gains repayments. Most of these reforms would not be implemented until after the election however. Even then they do not go far enough.

Guido has said it before that a House of Commons debit card is the best way to regulate legitimate expenses. The transactions would as normal be electronically recorded automatically and could thus be published online automatically, the spending limits would be automatic and bureaucracy would be minimal. The idea was proposed in Disinfecting Parliament, a 2009 report from the Sunlight Centre that recommended a number of measures based on best practice in the private sector that could easily be transferred to IPSA. MPs have called for a fairer and simpler system, what could be easier than the debit card plan?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Expenses Piggies Told to Pay Back Dodgy Claims

IPSA have forced a trough-full of greedy MPs to repay £40,000 worth of expenses for claims that were in breach of the rules. New figures for October and November last year show 50 MPs were made to pay back cash. Some of the weirder repayments include £1,300 from Jack Straw for a year-long sublet of his constituency office for the Blackburn Labour Party and £1,250 from Vince Cable for subletting his office. Eric Joyce tried to get away with claiming hundreds of pounds for hotels which were not allowed under the IPSA scheme. Cheapskate Jamie Reed was told nine of his £3 claims for petrol would not be granted. Several MPs blew their expenses budget allowance and had to pay back the overspend, including £4,010 from Mike Crockart, £4,551 from Daniel Kawczynski and £933 from Debbie Abrahams. Still, who can blame a greedy expenses trougher for trying…

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

MPs Stuff Their Faces With Free Pudding on the Taxpayer

Parliament’s taxpayer-subsidised bars, cafes and restaurants have introduced a pudding loyalty scheme for MPs, journalists and staff. Once you buy a pudding from all four of the eateries taking part, you get one free. Caught almost literally with their snouts in the trough…

Monday, March 10, 2014

Stella’s Junk Food Binge on Expenses

Her jealous Labour colleagues call power hungry Stella Creasy “St. Ella”, however when it comes to expenses Stella is no saint. Guido has come across this recent Tesco expenses claim submitted by the Labour MP:

How does she keep her slim figure?

*Artist’s impression.

UPDATE: Stella would like to make clear the snacks were for her volunteers. She has generously invited Guido to Walthamstow for a biscuit. Though the taxpayer will be paying.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Gordon Claims £215,000 Public Duties Costs in Two Years
Taxpayer Triples £66,000 Salary for “Ex-Politician”

The £10,000-a-week expenses Gordon gets from his company are clearly not enough for the Prime Mentalist, who new figures reveal has claimed £215,000 in public duties cost allowance in the last two financial years. The money is offered so ex-PMs can “fulfil their public duties”, though since Gordon has said he is an “ex-politician”, barely bothers attending parliament and spends most of his time flying around the word giving speeches for huge sums of money, Guido is struggling to work out why the taxpayer is still topping him up. Especially considering he is still pocketing his £66,000-a-year salary as an MP. Presumably he will tell us he “isn’t receiving a penny of this money personally” either.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Keeping it in the Family

The Men in Tights have published an updated list of those MPs related to each other and who is Westminster aristocracy (descended from previous MPs):

Some surprisingly well connected Labour types, for the party that fights nepotism. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Delivery for Mr Oliver

That’s what they meant when they said he ‘got TV’.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

EXCLUSIVE: Tory MP Claims Rent For Same Address Twice
Expenses Money Paid to Family of Donor

James Gray is the Tory MP for North Wiltshire. Readers may remember his crowning career achievement of cheating on his cancer-stricken wife with a married woman.

Now a Guido investigation can reveal that Gray double claims on the rent for his constituency office and constituency accommodation, separately charging the taxpayer thousands of pounds for each despite them being at the same address.

Gray claims £4,800-a-year in expenses for his constituency office rent. His constituency office address listed on the official parliament website, shown above, is that of his local Conservative association. Guido phoned the number given, and indeed the person who answered was sitting in the Tory association office. Yet IPSA records show Gray is claiming constituency office rent expenses for a separate address.

Guido’s investigation has discovered that Gray separately claims both constituency office and accommodation rent expenses for the same Wiltshire address: Ganbrook Farm. He claims a further £13,474-a-year for his accommodation, also charging the taxpayer up to £35,000-a-year to employ his new wife Philippa as his diary secretary on the farm they live in together. Yet if you call his listed constituency office number to book an appointment, the phone rings in a building miles away. Gray therefore appears to be doubling up on his rent expenses for his home and office, a ruse last tried by Denis MacShane.

IPSA rental arrangement files show that the landlord of the property is the “Andrews Settlement”. Guido has learned that the Andrews Settlement is the trust for the Neston Park estate, a large local estate controlled by Sir James Henry Fleetwood Fuller, 4th Baronet. Gray has confirmed that Fuller is the recipient of both his office and accommodation expenses, for the same farm. Electoral Commission data reveals that Fuller and his family have donated £1,250 to Gray through his association, and over £20,000 more to the Conservative Party.

Despite the photo evidence, Gray says that his constituency office and accommodation are “entirely separate” properties with separate leases, merely “adjacent” to each other on the same farm. He insists the arrangement is “open, declared… wholly above board [and] absolutely legitimate and honest”. Despite the publicly-listed address and telephone number for his constituency office being the local Tory association, Gray claims they merely “field very occasional calls and forward the tiny amount of post which arrives there”. However you cannot write to him at his real constituency office – for which we pay – because IPSA told us, it is kept private for the “protection of the MP’s security”.

Gray rather amusingly warned Guido: “you might want to be very cautious how you phrase your story.”

Monday, January 13, 2014

Yeo Could Face Legal Challenge for Overt Campaigning

Despite party rules stating that he is not meant to be overtly campaigning, Tim Yeo is fighting hard for his political survival in Suffolk. The trougher even sent members Christmas cards for the first time in a decade and has become uncharacteristically active in his previously neglected seat. Neighbouring MP Dan Poulter is helping to boost support locally, “they’re golf buddies” notes another MP dryly.

If Yeo should win the crunch vote, a legal challenge has been prepared by local Tories desperate to be rid of him. In 1983 Yeo comfortably survived an attempt to oust him as the candidate after a company he chaired was investigated by the London Stock Exchange over a share scandal, this time it might be time to sell shares in Tim Yeo. Local party elders suggest the fall out, division, and defections will be greater if the great greedy green survives the vote.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

£500 Training for MPs Expenses System, on Expenses

IPSA is so complicated that it requires expensive training just to work out how to use it. ‘MP staff secretaries, office managers and assistants’ are being sent on a course to work out how the hell to work the expenses system at a cost of nearly £500 per head. The training programme teaches staffers how to ‘create spreadsheet records easily transferable for use within the IPSA system.’ And who is picking up the £455 plus VAT bill?

“Please note that all fees associated with attending these training courses, can be reclaimed under IPSA, as they fall under their classification of staff training.”

Naturally.


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