Monday, December 16, 2013

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?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

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.

Monday, December 9, 2013

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 their 11% pay rise.

David Ruffley says he is “minded to accept” being paid £76,000-a-year. That would be the same David Ruffley who Guido exposed for his “obnoxious” behaviour. Bright-eyed hopefuls leave his office in floods of tears, some being binned after only days. The same David Ruffley who claimed £1,674 for a sofa and £2,175 for a 46 inch HD television during the expenses scandal. Now he wants more.

Then there is Jack Straw, standing down but hoping to give his colleagues a nice farewell gift. During the expenses scandal Straw was accused of trying to prevent MPs’ claims from being published because he did not want the public to find out about renovations to his own home.

And thirdly Peter Bottomley, warned about excessive expenses claims in 2009 after demanding £6,000 for windows and £980 for bookshelves. He now thinks he deserves more of your money.

TV producers are struggling to find pundits to defend the rise today. They should start with these troughers…

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

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 in £1 million council flat despite earning three times the average wage.

What about Brian Donohoe, who put through a £2,575 expense claim for one three-seat and two double-seater sofas.

Tom Harris with his three iPads at the taxpayers’ expense.

Not to mention John Baron, who bought a three-bedroom house £153,500, claimed expenses on the mortgage repayments, and then sold the property for £250,000.

And finally Paul Beresford, who through his second job as a dentist, designated his west London property, which includes his surgery, as his second home on expenses.

What possible reason could they have for voting against?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

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 taken to collective activity such as the imaginative interpretation of what might be a legitimate expense claim as much as an odd form of displacement activity as out of any shared sense of malice or corruption.”

Jim Devine must have submitted claims for cleaning, maintenance and printing work that the judge said were “entirely bogus”, pleading guilty to dishonestly claiming £8,385, and been jailed for 16 months because he was bored.

David Chaytor’s three counts of false accounting worth £18,000, submitting claims for the rent of a flat in Westminster which he bought in 1999 and had paid off the mortgage for in 2003, seeing him sentenced to 18 months, must have been a “displacement activity”.

Certainly no malice or corruption from Elliot Morley submitting 19 claims for excessive mortgage payments and 21 second home allowance forms for a mortgage he had already paid off. Costing the taxpayer £32,000 and seeing him sentenced to 16 months.

And what of Eric Illsley, who made false claims for his second home worth £14,000 and was jailed for 14 months.

Let’s not forget Denis MacShane, awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to false accounting. These MPs were not bored, they were crooks who were banged up for breaking the law…

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Very Elegant, Soft Hand in the Till

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Names of Every MP Caught in Re-Renting Scandal

IPSA Confirm Re-Renting Scandal
244 MPs Exposed, Cost to Taxpayer of £3.6 Million

Readers will remember Guido’s preview of the “re-renting” scandal, well today the full figures have been released. The taxpayer has been charged a total of £3,632,220 for 244 constituency office leases where the landlord is a political party. MPs claim expenses for their constituency office rent, then pay the money to their parties. It is taxpayer funding of political parties through the backdoor…

Monday, November 11, 2013

Labour Expenses Piggy’s Second Home Heating Bill

Readers will remember disgraced former Labour MP Joan Ryan, kicked out by the voters of Enfield North in 2010 after she was caught “flipping” her second home. Now she is standing for parliament again, pounding the streets listening to constituents’ concerns about their energy bills and campaigning on Labour’s doomed energy price freeze.

Back when she was their MP, Joan had no similar concerns about keeping warm in winter – receipts released during the expenses scandal show that she claimed £2,476 for gas and electricity utility bills for her second home on expenses. Clearly claiming £4,500 for repairs on her Enfield second home before flipping it with her flat in south London was not enough. No wonder local Labour activists begged members not to select her…


Seen Elsewhere

PC Worries Prevent Police Protecting Young Girls | Jill Kirby
Miliband Should Win Rochester | Martin Kettle
Thatcher Minister Sir John Nott ‘Voted for UKIP’ | Times
Time to Listen to Drugs Experts | Guardian
Drug Laws Don’t Work | Times
Our Moral Duty to Cut Taxes | David Cameron
Greens Ahead of LibDems | Guardian
Channel 4 to Spoof UKIP Election Win | Guardian
The Threat to Press Freedom | Paul Dacre
White House Scoop Strategy | Post
Labour Council Retweets BNP Endorsement | HandF Forum


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