Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sunday Sleaze

Sunday Sleaze

Think the public have a right to know what happens to public money? The Sunday Times reports that expense receipts to be released in July will be cesored so that we don’t know what they were for, where the taxis went, the names of shops or hotels.

Labour MP Jim Devine has fiddled  a total of nearly £17,000 in “car” and “mileage” costs, but the office manager, Marion Kinley, told the Sunday Herald she did all the driving and “I received only £60.” Devine has some improbable excuses.

The Sunday Times reports that the Labour peer Baroness Uddin has named a flat in Maidstone, Kent as her main residence and claimed around £100,000 in Parliamentary expenses for it. This is despite the flat being empty and Baroness Uddin living in Wapping, East London – just four miles from the House of Lords.

After the Sunday Times challenged Uddin about her “main residence”, she appears to have done a quick “move in”This is prima facie fraud.

David Miliband wants a private jet and spare on standby according to the News of the World.  Despite the fact that he invariably could fly commercial for a fraction of the price.

Well, even so, it is going to be hard for a Labour MP to cover up building a sauna on expenses

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Public Hearings on MP’s Expenses


Sir Christopher Kelly has this morning announced the terms of reference for the The Committee on Standards in Public Life’s Inquiry into MPs’ Expenses.  He says:

The aim of our Inquiry is to reform the system of MPs’ expenses to create a new set of rules which are trusted by the public, and which give MPs the support they need to do their jobs.

There will be public hearings, Guido intends to attend those hearings and make a submission through the Sunlight Centre for Open Politics.*

Over the last five years of investigating MP’s fiddles it is fair to say that Guido has become something of an (unwilling) expert on the system and the abuses of the system by which MPs enrich themselves.

Broadly speaking there are some simple principles which need to underpin any new system.  Firstly and most importantly transparency.  We need a completely transparent system of financing.  The best protection we have against shady behaviour is sunlight.

Secondly we need full accounting.  Every single penny must be accounted for, it is public money and the public are entitled to know where it goes.  If politicians don’t like it, maybe public life is not for them.

*Full disclosure, Guido financially supports the Sunlight Centre for Open Politics.  If you want to intern for the Centre (next month) email your resume to team@sunlight-cops.org.uk.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

At Last : Expense Fiddling Politician Charged

Tom Wise MEPAt last an expense fiddling politician is to face criminal charges for false accounting and money laundering, Tom Wise is the first MEP to face criminal charges over the abuse of Parliamentary expenses.  The former UKIP parlimentarian was arrested in June last year after it was revealed that he had allegedly siphoned off nearly £40,000 of public money by claiming it was for a researcher’s salary.

Wise will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court next Monday on charges that carry a maximum term of 14 years.  Guido would like to see Westminster Magistrates court kept busy with a few more cases of expense fiddling MPs from down the road.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Maude-y Money

Guido has not yet seen the Channel 4 Dispatches about the Westminster Gravy Train produced by the excellent Heather Brooke.   Will watch the 8pm repeat tonight. Francis Maude is exposed for abusing the expenses system to buy a second property yards away from the one he already owns.  Something that didn’t come out in the broadcast (Guido had it on his to-do list) was confirmation of a persistent rumour that the property was rented out to Tory researchers, who are  of course themselves paid out of parliamentary expenses.  Double dipping in the trough…

UPDATE : Am told it is on at 2.25 a.m.- will record it instead.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Because She’s Worth It :Jacqui Gets Blue Plaque

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Clegg Horrifies MPs With Reform Proposals :MPs Would Have 3 Years to Sell Homes

Nick CleggNick Clegg had his constituency home renovated at our expense and claimed 100% of the maximum allowed expenses last year, so perhaps he has a guilty conscience. Nevertheless he has come up with some good reform proposals that most voters would welcome:

  • MPs would no longer be able to claim for mortgage interest payments, only rent.
  • MPs should be forced to sell their second homes and return profits to the taxpayer.  They would be given 36 months before Parliament refused to fund their mortgage interest payments. A proportion of the capital gain profits would have to be returned.

Clegg’s proposals would also see an end to taxpayers picking up the bill for flat screen TVs, furniture, building work and taxis.  Just utility bills and council tax would be paid for by the taxpayers. Mr & Mrs Balls, Mr & Mrs Keen, Mr & Mrs Winterton and Mr & Mrs Robinson would only be able to claim half each.  Guido’s heart bleeds for these millionaire troughers.

The Times reports that hair shirts would become compulsory wear:

Ministers with grace and favour accommodation, such as the Prime Minister and Chancellor, would not be allowed to claim rental on any additional property.  On travel, MPs would be permitted standard open return tickets when travelling to and from their constituencies. MPs’ salaries would not be raised while the country is still in recession.

Mr Clegg told The Times: “It is easy enough for politicians to talk about how the current system for pay and expenses needs to be changed, but what people want to know is what we are actually going to do about it.”

On the whole this is a basis that many would see as fair and in line with best practice in the private sector.  Guido would also like to see a “no receipt, no claim” system – as all of us in the private sector work on that basis – HMRC doesn’t believe taxpayers are honourable and the taxpayers no longer believe members of parliament are honourable.  Cameron’s proposals are expected next week, they should be no less stringent if he wants to be credible. The parliamentary gravy train needs to be halted…

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sorry for the Delay

In case you are wondering why Guido has yet to name and shame some more scamming MPs, it is not for lack of will.  They are being elusive – genuinely on holiday in some cases.   Would like to hear their explanations before putting them in the stocks.  Though am close to just outing without speaking to the MP who boasted he had 400,000 airmiles as a result of junkets and wouldn’t have to pay for his family holiday. 

You, know who you are…

Irish Politicians Take 10% Expenses Cut, Pensions Abolished

The Irish budget yesterday was a tough  budget.  The type of budget that in reality Britain needs to implement to get the economy back on track. Welfare cuts and tax hikes are never popular moves. Brian Lenihan, the finance minister, said right at the beginning of his speech

… before we ask anyone else to give, we in this House and in this Government must examine our own costs. Those of us in politics have been entrusted with a great privilege by the people. We must lead by example.

Irish politicians rightly feel they need to share the pain – pensions for serving politicians are to be discontinued and allowable expenses cut by 10% across the board.  The Irish President Mary McAleese has already announced that she will be taking a 10% pay cut in light of the current budgetary troubles. The finance Minister Brian Lenihan and his ministerial colleagues took a 10% wage cut last year. The opposition leader has instructed his party’s parliamentarians to take a 5% cut. The governor of the Irish Central Bank and Financial Services Authority has volunteered to also surrender 10% of pay. The state broadcaster RTÉ’s top six executives are taking a “significant reduction” in pay.

In contrast last week British MPs accepted a 2.33% pay rise

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

+++ New MP’s Scam Breaking +++

millionaire-mp-logoGuido is digging into a whole new seam of scams that have come to his notice. MPs are renting out buy-to-let properties that they own, to members of  their own staff, to whom they authorise payments out of parliamentary expenses.   Laundering their expenses via their staff back into their own pockets.

Like a Victorian mill owner paying his tenanted workers in their own coin to pay back in rent and spend in their tied shops.  Except MPs use our money…

UPDATE : Have just been given information about MPs renting properties to other MPs who claim for the rent on expenses, which they then pay into their MP mate’s pocket.  Nice.

+++ Developing +++

Monday, April 6, 2009

Politicians Take Us for April FoolsNew Green Book Insults Taxpayers

millionaire-mp-logoCameron, Clegg and Brown now say they will meet to discuss reforms of MP’s expenses – even though the last set of  “reforms” came into force only six days ago on April Fool’s Day.  It isn’t hard to see that first and foremost any measure that increases the income of MPs is not acceptable.

Guido’s inbox is over-flowing with evidence of politician’s financial fiddles.  High and low, Labour, Tory and LibDem alike.  Front bench, back bench, Peers of the Realm, left, right and centre.  They are nearly all at it.

Britain is in a recession verging on a depression, millions are hard-up. Yet politicians are becoming millionaires at the expense of the public.  How can they explain how someone who has never had a job in the productive part of the economy can become a millionaire?  They already have an all-in-package worth some £115,000* a year.  Despite already making five times average earnings they still want a pay rise.  How can they justify this greed?

Green Book of FiddlesThis level of looting of the public purse by supposed  public servants is grand larceny. It is on such a scale that we cannot possibly contemplate MPs themselves deciding on their own reforms.  The Speaker’s fix which saw them change the Green Book’s rules is an absolute insult.  How did they decide to tackle MP’s defrauding the taxpayer and claiming expenses that broke the rules? They scrapped the rules.  What was once financial fraud now becomes permissable. If you take the time to compare the old Green Book and the new Green Book (the April Fool’s Day reforms) you will see that instead of tightening things up, they have loosened things up.  Spitting in the faces of taxpayers who can do nothing because all the lawmakers are at it.

The revised “Green Book” is a licence for larceny:
‘The Green Book 2009′ : A Guide to Members’ allowancesPDF Document
The Green Book 2006′ : Parliamentary Salaries, Allowances and PensionsPDF Document

They must think we are idiots – for them it is “Carry on Fiddling”, except it is no longer a fiddle, it is an entitlement within the rules.

*£115,00 is the pre-tax equivalent of all claimable personal permissable allowances. Do no be confused by MPs arguing speciously that most of their expenses are for staff. That amount is not included in the £115,000 figure. Bear in mind that a huge number of MPs also employ spouses, children, mistresses and cronies.


Tip off Guido
Web Guido's Archives

Subscribe me to:






RSS


AddThis Feed Button
Archive


Labels
Guido Reads
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,647 other followers