Worth ten minutes of your day…
This rent-swapping malarkey is bringing out some statements that remind you just how out of touch Members of Parliament can be. Some MPs might be admitting their guilt but expenses-hungry LibDem Don Foster is playing dumb. The sanctimonious self-serving communities minister even talks about himself in the third person:
“I genuinely don’t quite know what the story is. I used to live in a property that I owned in Westminster, and I was able under the previous rules to claim the interest on the mortgage. When IPSA changed the rules I was no longer able to do that so I had to move into rented property, and I could have sold the flat or rented it out. It is mine, I paid for it, and I chose at the bottom of the market to rent it, and that is what I currently do. I may one day sell it, or may carry on renting it out. It is an absolute disgrace that we have a system that says Don Foster can’t live in a property he owns, and claim about £400 per month less than he currently claims. They changed the rule to make it look supposedly better, but it has cost the taxpayer hundreds of pounds more per MP than it needed to have done just to look good, and I have absolutely no idea what it is I am doing wrong.”
The old flat might belong to Don, however he didn’t pay for it, taxpayers paid for it for years. The new system expects MPs to pay their own mortgage on properties they own. What Don is doing wrong is “contriving a tenancy” to maximise his expenses. As the property is yours Don, as you so proudly state, then why not live in it and pay to do so out of your salary? Why should the taxpayer pay for you to rent when you have you own property already? Foster refused to respond to Guido over the weekend.
Foster is despised by many is his student-packed constituency of Bath as a result of his refusal to address the university following the tuition fees u-turn. Other prospective LibDem candidates have already been sniffing around in anticipation that Foster may stand down at the next election. The fact that he is a shamed rent-swapper may hasten his demise…
Disgraced rent-swapping Labour MP Linda Riordan has told her the Halifax Courier she will sell her London flat and pay back the capital gains or profit to the taxpayer. Last week it was revealed that hard left Riordan skimmed £1,000-a-month profit by renting out her mortgaged London home while claiming rent for another nearby house on expenses.
“I have decided to place the flat on the market this week, and after speaking to Iain Mckenzie this weekend (the person renting the flat) he has agreed to move out as soon as is practically possible. I have always abided by the rules. Furthermore, I have agreed to pay IPSA back any capital gains. I will, on the assumption that my flat sells, pay any profit to the taxpayer. Of course I cannot speak for other MPs or ex-MPs who are or may continue to make profits.”
Housing benefit fraudsters go to jail when they are caught out, MPs can just promise not to do it again. Shameless Linda Riordan didn’t even say sorry. She only has a majority of around 1,000 – the people of Halifax know what to do in 2015…
When Guido was doing his own digging into rent-swappers last week one potential name that cropped up was that of Labour MP Meg Munn. Sheffield Heeley’s finest is a well-known trougher, employing both her husband as her researcher and her sister-in-law as an assistant in her constituency. When Guido asked Meg if she was a rent-swapper on Thursday she denied it outright:
It seems Munn is suffering from a convenient case of amnesia. It turns out she did use a rent-swapping arrangement up until April of this year, with the Register of Members’ Interests revealing her little trick ended just six months ago. She claimed for over £16,000 in rent-swapping expenses over the last financial year alone. Now Munn is quickly rowing back, suddenly recalling – that’s right – that the rules are to blame:
“When in London I now live in a rented flat. I would have preferred to continue to live in the flat I owned, but IPSA’s rules do not allow this.”
Funny how she forgot to mention all this when Guido first came calling…
Both Dave and Nick promised before the election they would change the law to let us recall corrupt MPs. After the election they agreed it was a priority and put it in the Coalition Agreement:
We will bring forward early legislation to introduce a power of recall, allowing voters to force a by-election where an MP is found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing and having had a petition calling for a by-election signed by 10% of his or her constituents.
Imagine Guido’s shock when pretty much the only piece of legislation proposed by this government that would improve accountability was kicked into the long grass:
“The Government remains committed to establishing a recall mechanism which is transparent, robust and fair. However, we set out in the White Paper that we would consider the results of this process with great care. In order to fulfil that pledge, and to give due consideration to the Committee’s conclusions and recommendations, the Government wishes to take the proper time to reflect on this policy and determine its future direction. That way we can be sure of introducing the most appropriate mechanism for our constitutional framework.”
In other words, never…
And here is who is running in the contested elections:
Elections will take place on WEDNESDAY 24TH OCTOBER IN COMMITTEE ROOM 14 between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Business, Innovation and Skills Committee (2-vacancies)
Nominations: Caroline Dinenage, Jonathan Djanogly, Richard Fuller, Anne Marie Morris,Robin Walker
and Mike Weatherley
Culture Media and Sport Committee (3-vacancies)
Nominations: Andrew Bingham, Angie Bray, Conor Burns, Alun Cairns, Tracey Crouch, Jason McCartney,
David Morris, Caroline Nokes, Mike Weatherley
Defence Committee (1-vacancy)
Nominations: Crispin Blunt, James Gray, Adam Holloway
Energy and Climate Change Committee (1-vacancy)
Nominations: Peter Lilley, David Morris
Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee (1-vacancy)
Nominations: Simon Hart, Sheryll Murray, Mark Spencer
International Development Committee (2-vacancies)
Nominations: Fiona Bruce, Matthew Offord, Mark Pritchard
Procedure Committee (one vacancy)
Nominations: Jonathan Lord, Martin Vickers
Transport Committee (2-vacancies)
Nominations: Gareth Johnson, Karen Lumley, Karl McCartney
Treasury Select Committee (1-vacancy)
Nominations: Steve Baker, Brooks Newmark, Dominic Raab
Ministers should not participate but PPSs can.
Graham Brady MP
This is just out from Graham Brady’s office to Tory MPs:
For the following committees I have received the same number of nominations as there are vacancies, the following are therefore elected:
COMMUNITIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Bob Neill, Rahman Chishti
Guto Bebb, Justin Tomlinson
WORK AND PENSIONS
Aidan Burley, Nigel Mills, Anne-Marie Morris, Jane Ellison, Graham Evans
You’re either in front of Guido…
Tory MP Rob Wilson has written to new New York Times boss and former BBC director general Mark Thompson demanding that he fly back to Britain to answer questions in front of the Pollard Inquiry and the CMS select committee.
Could another Piers-style video link be in the offing?
However bad your Monday morning might be going, at least you aren’t as hard-up as poor old Andy Burnham. Over the weekend he published his heart-wrenching sob story excuse for why he has been outed as a shamed rent-swapper. It almost brought a tear to Guido’s eye:
“After the 2010 Election, IPSA changed the rules to stop MPs claiming for mortgage interest. I wanted to stay at my flat but I could no longer afford to do so and was forced to leave by August 2012. In June this year, I moved to an unfurnished, rented flat in Kennington. I now claim accommodation expenses on this new property alone. I make no claim in respect of the old flat. However, all this has left me in the unusual situation of having a flat in London on which I have a mortgage to pay but where I am unable to live. I don’t want to sell it so have had to rent it out. The rent I receive covers the mortgage, the agents’ management fee and on-going maintenance costs. IPSA is right to prevent MPs making capital gains on properties with the help of the taxpayer. I support rules to stop this. However, I believe they could have been introduced without asking MPs to move to more expensive rented accommodation. If the rules changed again to reflect this, I would move back to my old flat at the earliest opportunity.”
It wasn’t Andy’s fault he had to send the taxpayer the bill, it was the rules of course! He “couldn’t afford” to pay his own way despite earning three times the average wage as an MP. He was “forced to leave” his home and live in an “unfurnished flat” with the plebs in Kennington. Don’t believe the spin, Burnham’s snout is so far in the trough he is fast looking like one of the most piggy MPs. Poor Burnham is financing his buy-to-let scheme and building up a little nest egg courtesy of the taxpayer. He is the highest-profile rent-swapper yet…
Find out which Tory MPs are standing on a BBC scrutiny platform for the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.
On MediaGuido today or in Media Guardian tomorrow…
Last week Guido brought you the runners and riders trying to get on to the high-profile Culture Media and Sport Select Committee. Now two of the Tories standing for election for have announced that they are putting BBC scrutiny at the heart of their campaigns. David Morris and Alun Cairns are both calling for more Parliamentary scrutiny of Aunty. Former musician David Morris tells Guido “Its clear that the leadership of the BBC has been unaccountable for far too long. The fact that MPs are barred from tabling questions to the BBC is crazy.” While Alun Cairns is promising to:
- “Reduce the dominance of the BBC that squeezes out competition.
- Ensure that the BBC shows the same investigative rigour to its own in-house matters as it does to other individuals and organisations.
- I have a ten minute rule bill scheduled for 21st November to force the BBC to publish all invoices over £500. Until now they have refused my calls.”
The elections take place on Wednesday, after Entwhistle’s grilling tomorrow, sadly.
Peter Rippon, the Newsnight editor that Panorama is accusing of being leant on has stepped down. With the growing scandal, it looks unlikely he will be coming back. The BBC have just put out the following statement:
The BBC has launched an independent review, led by former Head of Sky News Nick Pollard, to determine whether there were any failings in the BBC’s management of the Newsnight investigation into allegations of sexual abuse of children by Jimmy Savile.
However, on the basis of material available now, it is apparent from information supplied by the Newsnight editor and programme team – that the explanation in a blog by the editor of his decision to drop the programme’s investigation is inaccurate or incomplete in some respects.
By way of correction and clarification:
1.The blog says that Newsnight had no evidence that anyone from the Duncroft home could or should have known about the allegations. In fact some allegations were made (mostly in general terms) that some of the Duncroft staff knew or may have known about the abuse.
2. The blog says that Newsnight had no evidence against the BBC. No allegation was made to the programme that BBC staff were aware of Mr Savile’s alleged activities, but there were some allegations of abusive conduct on BBC premises.
3. The blog says that all the women spoken to by the programme had contacted the police independently already and that Newsnight had no new evidence against any other person that would have helped the police. It appears that in some cases women had not spoken to the police and that the police were not aware of all the allegations.
The BBC regrets these errors and will work with the Pollard review to assemble all relevant evidence to enable the review to determine the full facts.
Turns out it wasn’t one rogue journalist…
Bill Cash has form for dodgy expenses. Last time round the Staffordshire MP was denounced by David Cameron for claiming over £15,000 to pay his daughter rent for her London flat, so it’s no surprise that Guido has caught him at it again. Millionaire Cash lives in a massive country house in Shropshire, one the biggest houses owned by anybody in the Commons. According to the Register of Members’ Interests he also has a share in a Pimlico property that he receives rental income for. Despite all this Cash has just started renting a new flat in London, charging the taxpayer for his rent on expenses. In April alone he asked taxpayers for over £2,000.
Dave told him last time round that he was on thin ice. Now Cash has crashed through.
Why does one of the richest men in Parliament need to bill the taxpayer for rent when he already owns a house in London and another mansion in Shropshire?
With his über-safe 13,000 majority he’s able to take liberties. And your cash to pay his bills.
Yesterday’s Daily Star Sunday column revealed further details about Osborne’s Class A habit and why the BBC’s coverage of it was a little subdued:
CHANCELLOR George Osborne was left red-faced when he was accused of trying to get away with sitting in the first-class carriage of a train with a standard-class ticket. His spokesman and Virgin Trains deny an argument ever took place, even though a witness says his aide tried it on. Osborne does have previous on bending the rules. The same thing happened back in May when a ticket inspector was high-fived by other passengers for refusing to let the multi-millionaire sit in first class without the correct ticket. Strangely, BBC news all but ignored Friday’s incident. Nothing to do with the aide in the spotlight being Poppy Mitchell-Rose – a former BBC employee who is dating Ben Wright, the BBC’s political correspondent.
Guido’s favourite story was the Shadow Public Health Minister’s morning tipple:
LATE-NIGHT TV star and part-time Shadow Minister Diane Abbott was up for an award last week for the “Best Politician on Twitter”. Eyebrows were raised at the nomination, given that Abbott came very, very close to losing her job in January when she was embroiled in a racism row after tweeting blanket insults about all “white people”. There were even more eyebrows raised at the example set by the Shadow Public Health Minister who, upon arriving at the posh ceremony, immediately tucked into the champagne. At 8am.
You can now read the rest of Guido’s Sunday column online here.
The original expenses scandal cost dozens of corrupt MPs their jobs, the worst offenders ended up behind bars. Now the rent-swapping sleaze that John Bercow is trying to cover up has been blown wide open. This morning Guido is listing the most shameless rent-swappers…
The usual suspects kept cropping up when Guido started digging around last week. Top of the pile was surprise, surprise Denis MacShane, outed in the Times this weekend. In addition to his property back in Rotherham – remember he rented his garage to himself on expenses for £125,000 – MacShame owns a £700,000 house in Pimlico just a few minutes walk from Parliament, which he rents out under the IPSA rules and then claims £1,450-a-month expenses to rent another home in London. Making cash off the back of the taxpayers when he has no reason to exploit the IPSA loophole except to enrich himself…
When The Times confronted him he claimed he had stopped doing it – convenient. We have some further questions for him, when did he stop the fiddle? Why can’t MacShame live in his posh Pimlico pad right next to Westminster? Why does millionaire MacShane have to bill the taxpayer rent for a house he doesn’t need to rent?
Because he is taking us for a ride. Again…