200 Ministerial Car Journeys Taken Without a Minister

More than 200 government car journeys were undertaken last year without a Minister in the car. After George Osborne pledged this morning to make government smaller and leaner, Guido suggests the Chancellor has a look at the government car data for 2012/13 that was quietly published today. In 2012 the government car pool was broken up and a vehicle given to each department, yet a small pool was kept for ‘top up journeys’. Hidden within these additional rides is some very poor planning, or very lazy Ministers, who are using this service to ferry their red-boxes unaccompanied around the country. And we’re paying for the pleasure.

The Deputy Prime Minister is amongst the worst offenders, using empty cars to ferry his boxes 52 times. Hague relied on this trick 41 times and Gove 23. While the worst offender was former Trade Minister Lord Marland, who clocked up a bizarre 61 extra journeys on our tab for his boxes, the LibDems seem to have a particular penchant for this perk. David Laws managed it 21 times, Sarah Teather 14 and Danny Alexander 22 times. That is one cut the Chief Secretary to the Treasury has not managed to find. 

Transport Minister Stephen Hammond is clearly struggling with the 5.7 mile commute from his constituency in Wandsworth to his desk in Westminster; he has got his box sent over 19 times on top of the 138 ‘top up’ journeys he took himself. By comparison Cabinet Ministers such as Osborne, Maude, Greening, Clarke, Shapps and Hunt managed to organise their departmental business with zero such trips. No costs for these journeys were published. 

Say No to Yeo: Tim Gets Tepid Backing

Junior minister and topless enthusiast Dr Dan Poulter has organised a letter of support for the re-selection of his troughing neighbour. Apparently Tim Yeo “has a lot of fuel left in the tank” and “remains very active.” On the golf course perhaps…

On the bright-side for Tim, Poulter’s letter is a marked improvement on the effort by Crispin Blunt, who himself survived such a deselection bid. The former minister said Yeo was an “elder statesmen” and his constituents need someone who knows “how to get around the system”. If Blunt actually spoke to anyone in the seat, he would understand that was the problem…

New Year Honours Establishment Cronyism
Troughing MPs, Spinners, Aides and Donors Bunged Gongs

Establishment cronyism at its most cynical in tonight’s New Year honours. The party leaders have rewarded expenses scandal hit MPs, spinners, aides, party donors and lobbyists, also buttering up potential candidates and local party association bosses. Their cronyism in full:

  • Sir Alan Parker – shadowy CEO of lobbying firm Brunswick. Gordon Brown is godfather to his son, he is a Labour donor. Has also holidayed with Cameron.
  • Karren Brady CBE – Cameron adviser on fiscal matters who has previously been arrested twice on suspicion of fraud and money laundering. In the running for a Tory seat.
  • Sir Kevin “Morally” Barron – Labour MP and head of the troughers’ union, the standards committee that lets off money-grabbing MPs. Watch Guido’s ding dong with him here.
  • Sir Peter Luff – Tory MP who bought three loo seats, three food mixers, two microwaves and ten sets of bed linen for his country house. Rent-swapper extraordinaire.
  • Marion Dowdings OBE and Simon Mort OBE – deputy chair of Cameron’s local party and chair of its supper club, and president of the Oxford West Conservatives, respectively. See what Dave did there.
  • Sir Keir Starmer – New Miliband adviser currently being lined up for a Labour seat. Well it can hardly be for his work at the Crown Prosecution Service, can it.
  • Peter Emmerson Jones OBE – has given tens of thousands of pounds to Osborne’s local party.
  • Lady Patricia Hobson OBE –  another big money Tory donor.
  • Emma Pidding CBE – chairman of the National Conservative Convention. C’mon.

This is why people hate politics.

WATCH: Lord Hanningfield Doorstepped

“All 600 sometimes go in just to clock in. All 600.”

Lord Hanningfield making the case for the abolition of the House of Lords…

Via @liarpoliticians.

Mirror Clocks On to ‘Clocking In’

Regular readers will not be surprised by this morning’s Mirror splash that shows Tory crook Lord Hanningfield clocking in and out of the House of Lords in under an hour to collect his daily £300 expenses. Guido has been warning of this scandal for years. In June 2010 he wrote:

s0OYczBh“There is also a very obvious flaw in this which Guido likes to call the “Rennard Model”. There will be nothing to stop Lords turning up in the morning to collect their £300 and then disappearing off for the rest of the day – it is going to be an honour system – something that is very lacking in Westminster.  If these changes haven’t been properly thought through then the this system is looking just as prone to abuse as the last set up.”

Time for Hanningfield to name and shame ‘at least fifty other peers’ he claims are up to the same trick.

Two Lords a Leaping into Suspension

Ulster Unionist Lord Laird has been banned from the Lords for four months, while Labour’s Lord Mackenzie has picked up a six month ban after they were caught out in a newspaper lobbying sting in June.

They should be banished forever.

UPDATE: Here’s a thought. There were three peers caught in the fake company lobbying sting: How did Lord Cunningham avoided a suspension?

Does his membership of the privy council make him immune from censure?

IPSA’s False Deal

IPSA have confirmed their recommendation to whack up MPs’ pay to £74,000. Their reforms in full:

  • A one-off uplift in salary to £74,000 in 2015, an increase of 9.26%, to address the historic shortfall. Thereafter, MPs’ pay will be linked to average earnings – if they go up, so will MPs’. If they don’t, neither will MPs’.
  • A new pension on a par with those in other parts of the public service, saving the taxpayer millions. Following public consultation on our proposals from earlier this year, we have decided to increase MPs’ pension contributions further, reducing the cost to the taxpayer even further.
  • Scrapping out-of-touch “resettlement payments” worth tens of thousands of pound per MP. These will be replaced with more modest loss-of-office payments, which will be available only to those who contest their seat and lose.
  • A tighter regime of business costs and expenses, including ending the provision for evening meals.

IPSA seem to be taking the approach that they have to come to some sort of deal with MPs; that if MPs agree not to fiddle their expenses, sign up to a more reasonable expenses regime, increase their contribution towards their gold-plated pensions and give up their resettlement payments, then they can have a pay rise. This is a false offer. There is absolutely nothing to stop IPSA toughening up on expenses and pensions and ditching the resettlement grant with no pay rise sweetener attached. The only ‘deal’ on the table should be that all these things happen without the condition of a pay rise…

IPSA’s Imaginary Pay Problem


Writing in The Times this morning, IPSA’s Sir Ian Kennedy is adamant

ipsaWe will announce a one-off pay rise. Thereafter MPs’ pay will move with the pay of the rest of us. That’s a sensible way forward, which we will implement after a further review of conditions in 2015.

I know there is a tension between the reasoning and the politics but we were asked to fix the problem for a generation, not for a news cycle. That is what we have done. The alternative approach takes us back to the days of political deals, with scandal never far away. I can’t believe anyone seriously believes that is the way forward.

Of all the problems in politics, the problem of underpaid MPs is not one that Guido or the voters have noticed. MPs are paid a handsome £66,396, plus another £14,728 if they chair one of the 39 select committees. If they make it to Cabinet, the pay goes up to £134,565 — more than doubling their salary. They are paid a basic salary that puts them in the top income decile. For this, as Gordon Brown shows, they have to do nothing. They also get another £20,100 towards accommodation expenses. Hundreds of them are paid more as ministers or for having extra responsibilities – chairing committees. The average MP costs taxpayers over £100,000 in pay and personal expenses.

It is little acknowledged by IPSA that since 2000 MPs’ earnings have outstripped the consumer price index and since the 1980s their earnings have risen from double the average to the triple figure that they enjoy today. Although politicians are professionally skilled in advancing an argument, they will find it impossible to convince the public that they have gone from being worth twice the average wage to being three times as much. There is no lack of applicants for MPs’ jobs. There is no pay problem.

They Just Don’t Get It

According to IPSA’s anonymous polling 69% of MPs want to milk the taxpayer of even more cash, so why are they all being so shy in public? This weekend only three were willing to go on the record to back […]

+ READ MORE +

Troughers Vote Against Recall Bill

Zac Goldsmith’s bill proposing to allow constituents to recall corrupt MPs passed its first reading by 127 votes to 17 this afternoon. Worth looking at a few of the names who voted against.

There is Labour’s Frank Dobson, who lives […]

+ READ MORE +

Bercow: “No Shared Malice or Corruption” From Jailed MPs

Bercow was spinning hard for jailed MPs caught fiddling their expenses during his speech to the Hansard Society last night.

“The House appeared to be little more than a cross between a rubber stamp and a talking shop which had

[…]

+ READ MORE +

A Very Elegant, Soft Hand in the Till

As another round of expense receipts are published a special prize goes to Tory MP Penny Mordaunt, who claimed £4.37 for some Dove hand cream. Taxpayer-funded moisturising is creative even by their standards…[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

David Cameron tells MPs after voting:

“Wouldn’t miss this for the world. Secret ballots very important. Remember the Chartists.”

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