The view of Guido’s readers is clear, Derek Conway’s financial arrangements are unacceptable. If Cameron does nothing, it is a case of accepting politics as usual. Fiddling thousands of pounds off the taxpayers to finance your son’s education is not acceptable. Lawmakers can not be law breakers.

Cameron has the power to withdraw the whip from Conway, his constituency party have the power to withdraw their support for him as a candidate. What is it to be?

Incidentally, do you think we will see articles from Sir Michael White et al explaining that it is a trivial amount of money? Will we see those who have been writing apologia on behalf of Hain, Harman, Johnson and Wendy Alexander doing the same for Derek Conway? Don’t hold your breath…

Derek Conway Should Repay the £40,000

Tory MP Derek Conway has got caught out and he is being given a slap on the wrist and told not to do it again. He paid some £40,000 over four years to his son to finance his way through university out of your taxes. There is not a scrap of evidence, apart from Conway’s say-so, that his son did any work in return. Nobody outside the Conway family is willing to back up the claim that the son did any work.

The Select Committee on Standards and Privileges is recommending Conway pay back some £13,000 that it reckons was over-paid. Reading between the lines they suspect, but have been unable to prove, that no work was done whatsoever. Can you think of another profession where if £40,000 was paid to a family member for nothing in return the police would not be called in?

UPDATE : Duncan Borrowman, LibDem candidate for Conway’s seat has written to the police demanding an investigation.

Daily Food Allowances :School Children, Armed Forces, Prisoners, MPs

Dizzy had a piece that struck Guido as demonstrating where our politician’s real priorities lie. Guido has turned it into an easy to understand graphic. Take a look at the average spending allowances per day on food as voted for by politicians. According to the government, Army and RAF personnel (on base) get £1.63 per day spent on them, and the Navy (when in port), gets £1.78 per day. Schoolchildren in state schools now get on average some 50p up from 37p since Jamie Oliver. (Admittedly for only one lunch meal, but it is still nevertheless revealing.)

Now compare that with the average spend per day on food for prisoners. £1.87. Those in a Young Offenders’ Institute get a budget of £3.81 per day, over double the armed forces. How much do politicians get? £20 per day, no receipts required. 12 times as much as a soldier. Can it be any clearer where their real priorities lie?

They are literally gorging themselves in the trough at the taxpayers expense whilst heroes go short.

UPDATE : Metropolitan Police Dogs have more spent on their daily food than squaddies do.

Yvette’s First Class Package

A Labour party press release arrives in Guido’s inbox from Mrs Balls, headlined “Next Steps for Social Housing”
“Labour’s Housing Minister, Yvette Cooper, has announced a package of measures and extra investment to make social housing fairer and more effective. The plans will re-focus social housing around the needs of the tenants and will make it easier for young families to move to larger homes when they need to.”
Fairer and more effective packages?

Mr and Mrs Balls are paid by the taxpayers quarter-of-a-million a year between them, yet so hard done by are they that they still claim a package worth tens of thousands extra in mortgage subsidy on top. They own two homes and with the CGT reforms dreamt up on the back of an envelope after George Osborne promised to slash IHT, they will be voting themselves a handy reduction from 40% to 18% on property capital gains. So the constituency and London home owners who already benefit from a tax-free allowance worth £40,000 annually to pay their mortgages, will vote themselves a nice little bonus tax cut. They will then be able to sell their taxpayer funded second home and only pay the reduced capital gains – a 55% tax cut for MPs.

Somehow Guido doubts that kind of package will be offered to ordinary young families who don’t vote themselves the nomenklatura benefits available to the political class. Fairer and more effective packages? They are having a laugh…

359 Lords-a-Fiddlin’

Sam Coates in The Times has another research based snouts-in-the-trough piece. The evidence is that at least 359 Lords, that is the majority of the them, are fiddling their expenses. The evidence whilst circumstantial is particularly compelling. Can it be a coincidence that, according to the article;
  • 359 of the 550 Lords who claimed “day subsistence” — a £78.50 payment for meals and taxis — claimed the maximum on 95%of occasions or more.
  • 272 of the 406 peers who live outside London and claim “overnight subsistence” for hotels — worth £159.50 — claimed the maximum on 95% of occasions or more.
  • 338 of 514 Lords who claim office expenses, worth £69 a day, claimed the maximum on 95% of occasions or more. Unlike the House of Commons, secretarial costs are paid to the peer to distribute.
Essentially this is a tax-free fiddle with no receipts required. Guido has pointed to the prevalence of this fiddle before. Many of the same peers, particularly Labour ones, also get on a few Quangos as well to pad out their retirement as if the gold-plated, non-contributory pension benefits they voted themselves when they were MPs were not enough already. The gravy train flows thick and fast for many ennobled MPs.

What particularly irks and disgusts Guido, is that they claim £78.50 for “subsistence meals” per day and children in state schools get meals costing 40p per day. Shows their real priorities doesn’t it? They really know how to look after themselves don’t they?

MPs Expenses – A New Hero Emerges

MPs expense figures have just been released.* Philip Hollobone (Con, Kettering) is the least expensive MP coming in at under £44,551. Liam Byrne (Lab, Birmingham Hodge Hill) is four times as expensive at £178,116.

Guido called Hollobone’s office to try and figure out the anomaly:

Guido Fawkes “Is Hollobone there?”
Office “Yes.”
Guido Fawkes “Can I speak to him?”
Office “Yes.”
Guido Fawkes “Thanks.”
Guido waits patiently.
Office “It is me.”

It turns out that the reason he is some £23,340 cheaper than even Dennis Skinner (£67,891) is that he doesn’t employ any office staff. He answers his own correspondence (he can type) and he says dealing with constituents is his favourite part of the job. So it is no surprise that he is rated in the top decile for responsiveness by WriteToThem.com, whereas Liam Byrne, despite all his staff and great expense, comes 158th.

According to data from TheyWorkForYou.com, Philip Hollobone

  • Has spoken in 105 debates in the last year — well above average amongst MPs.
  • Has received answers to 194 written questions in the last year — well above average amongst MPs.
  • Is a member of 2 select committees.
  • Replied within 2 or 3 weeks to a very high number of messages sent via WriteToThem.com during 2006, according to constituents.
  • Has voted in 87% of votes in parliament — well above average amongst MPs.

How is it that he can be an excellent constituency MP for a third of the average cost of the rest?

*Thanks to Bloomberg for doing the number crunching.

What Did They Do With Gisela?

This morning Quentin Letts in his sketch wonders what the Labour whips did to Gisela Gordon is Lying Stuart during Brown’s EU treaty statement yesterday. He points out that she was noticeably missing despite having helped on the drafting committee for the EU constitution. Jack Straw (pictured here) chose her to be on Valéry Giscard d’Estaing’s committee when he was Foreign Secretary. Quentin is therefore looking for her:-
Lost: one feline Labour MP, sleek coat, answers to the name of Gisela Stuart (Edgbaston). If you see this much-stroked pussy please ring to say she is all right.

The slimey Kaufman had a go at her yesterday as well, he spoke of how some MPs were prepared to write “well remunerated articles” in the Press, and how they “prefer money to the truth”. Rich coming from him, as you can see by studying the register of interests.

Some MPs do television for free, but not him. Here are Gerald’s recent declared media fees: BBC (Up to £5,000), Daily Mail (Up to £5,000), Mail on Sunday (Up to £5,000), Evening Standard (Up to £5,000), Fees from the Telegraph Group. (Up to £5,000), The Scotsman, News International, (Up to £5,000). Massive pot calling small kettle…

Name & Shame MPs Who Vote Themselves Tax Cut

Guido was at an impromptu meeting of successful* internet entrepreneurs held at the Adam Street Club. We were briefed by David Gauke from the Tory shadow treasury team who also sits on the Treasury Select Committee.
Basically the entrepreneurs were extremely pissed off that they were looking at a sudden 80% hike in capital gains taxes when they come to sell their start-ups. They are not the only ones, the CBI, the Institute of Directors, the British Chambers of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses are spitting tacks at a tax that came out of the blue via the back of an envelope.

David Gauke pointed out that MPs would, as a result of the reforms, now get a 55% tax cut on capital gains (down from 40% to 18%) when they sell their taxpayer subsidised Westminster second homes. At this self-serving outrage there was a collective “what the f***!” from a roomful of exasperated entrepreneurs.

Guido thinks when the vote comes, those MPs who vote themselves a 55% tax cut and small businesses an 80% tax hike, should be named and shamed. Guido is thinking not just of Yvette and Ed Balls, but those champagne socialists with their multi-million pound property portfolios who will benefit. Michael Meacher and Emily Thornberry spring to mind, but they are not the only MPs who’ll be voting themselves a tax cut on their property portfolios. It adds insult to injury when you factor in that the taxpayer has paid them a tax-free mortgage subsidy worth some £40,000 a year to MPs. Guido will happily publicly name and shame MPs with bulging property portfolios who vote for the Finance Bill that clobbers entrepreneurs. Email Guido any names and details…

*FYI, this blog is more profitable than Guardian Unlimited, which is supposed to be an online success. Apart, that is, from the making money element of success

Tim Yeo Does a Days Work

Guido has reflected on the high emission hypocrisy of Tim Yeo before. This week we read in the FT about him flying off for some golf. The article reveals that he actually went to the office on Monday, yes a

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Drinks All Round – The Taxpayer is Paying

There was a veritable tax parasites ball at Westminster’s fancy Atrium restaurant on Wednesday. The BBC spent some £5,000 pouring booze down MPs throats. Perhaps they were celebrating the expected 2,000 jobs being cut at the BBC? Maybe not, but

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Thirst Aid for the Political Class

A co-conspirator writes:

MPs in Bellamy’s last night were being given priority service – with a queue for drinks, the barman by-passed those at the front and asked MPs joining the queue at the back what they would like. I

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Ed & Yvette Profit Handsomely

So who did really well yesterday? Not small businessman, wacked with an 80% hike in capital gains tax when they sell their business at retirement. Alternatively if they work themselves to death dealing with regulatory red tape and hand the

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Former Labour MP Dame Anne Begg:

“[Iain Duncan Smith] took to standing behind me during Prime Minister’s Questions. He stood at what’s called the Bar of the House and occasionally he would lean on my wheelchair. Our working relationship was slightly fraught anyway because I’d been critical of him a lot. I wanted to keep that criticism a professional criticism, not a criticism of him as a person so I never quite built up the courage to actually say: ‘Please don’t do that.'”

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