There are 1.2 million reasons why she didn’t really mean it…
The Standards Committee report into Maria Miller is out at 11am, with the Culture Secretary expected to be ordered to repay £5,000 of the £90,000 she claimed in mortgage payments for a second home lived in by her parents. Labour minister Tony McNulty resigned in 2009 over a similar arrangement and Miller has so far offered no explanation for why she suddenly stopped claiming when the MPs expenses scandal broke. If it was legit at the time why stop?
Oh and she is briefing that she simply ‘forgot’ to change the morgage claims when there was a change in rates. Whoopsy daisy.
It’s the cover-up that makes this the real issue: Miller used her role in charge of press regulation to threaten journalists reporting the story. If as a Secretary of State she is also found to have failed to cooperate with the inquiry into her expenses, how does that not cross the line? And how clever to put out the Plain Packaging statement at the same time as the report.
What time was the decision made to rush out the plain packaging announcement to coincide with the Maria Miller report, and why?
The faceless bureaucrats of Her Majesty’s civil service are the people really in charge of the country, so it’s a tad worrying that they’ve been sent on courses such as ‘Economics for Non-Economists’, ‘Enhancing Your Credibility’ and, particularly appropriate for working in this government, ‘Presenting Difficult Messages’. Sir Humphreys can learn how to ‘Be the Leader You Can Be’, not to mention ‘Going the Extra Mile’ and ‘Navigating the Leadership Labyrinth’. Though penny pinching mandarins could surely do without being trained in ‘Using Social Media’ and ‘Diversity and Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Awareness’. If it all doesn’t work out at the end of the day, at least there’s the ‘Getting a New Job’ class to help the men and women in grey suits move on. Obviously the £9 million a year price tag for all this training is on us.
Last month Guido revealed that Maria Miller was making a potential six figure profit on the second home – lived in by her parents – that she had claimed mortgage payments for on expenses, in clear breach of expenses rules. The Telegraph today reports she has sold the home which she bought in 1996 for £234,000 for £1.47 million, trousering a taxpayer-subsidised profit of over £1 million. Despite claiming £90,000 for the second home on expenses she will only have to repay £5,000. This was a case of a Cabinet minister blatantly breaching expenses rules, resulting in significant personal gain, yet the impotent Standards Commissioner is giving her a mere slap on the wrist…
UPDATE: A DCMS source gets in touch:
“Maria has co-operated fully with the inquiry, asked for by the Labour Party, which has now been going on for a year and a half amidst constant unfounded speculation. We hope it will conclude soon. It is not surprising that London houses go up in value well over a decade after they are first bought . It is also not unusual for people to move house.”
Rachel Reeves just repeatedly refused to deny she told a gathering of socialists that “it will be much better if we can say that all of the changes that the Government have introduced we can reverse and all benefits can be universal.”.
Mark Harper clearly stood down to spend more time reading the Guido Fawkes Blog ‘which one or two members are familiar with’…
Last week Rachel Reeves let her guard down at a meeting of Christians on the Left, formerly known as the Christian Socialist Movement:
‘It will be much better if we can say that all of the changes that the Government have introduced we can reverse and all benefits can be universal.’
Much better? Really? That’s not what the sums say…
Implementing working-age Universal Benefits alone after the next election would cost Rachel £180 billion a year, which is double the benefits bill now. If you then include reversing all of IDS’s savings made in this parliament – like £2.1 billion to Housing Benefit Reforms (this year alone) or £1.3 billion to Employment and Support Allowance – you’re looking at another £50 billion needed. That takes Rachel’s bill to £230 billion . How can that figure possibly be seen as ‘much better’?
The Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary admitting that she’s against the principle of Welfare Reform, but has been forced into it, hardly fills you with confidence about how she would act should she get her hands on the moneybags. Tomorrow Labour will finally back a welfare cap, something that they have voted against three times before, yet behind closed doors what has actually changed?
When John Bercow was elected Speaker in 2009, his campaign team said:
“The Speaker can either be a road block to reform or an agent of reform and change and there’s no doubt about it that John Bercow will be that agent of change.”
After five years in the £142,000 job, the only thing that has changed is the size of Speaker’s bill. Not happy with just his coat of arms, Bercow has grown his team to a nine-strong entourage of helpers at a cost of £383,000 a year. As Guido revealed in yesterday’s Sun, they include a £42,000 train-bearer whose job it is to carry his ceremonial cloak:
- Speaker’s Secretary: up to £93,380
- Assistant Speaker’s Secretary: up to £61,255
- Chaplain: up to £61,255
- Trainbearer: up to £42,401
- Diary Secretary: up to £35,723
- Personal Secretary: up to £29,330
- Secretary: up to £29,330
- Ad hoc Adviser: up to £15,512
- Cleaner: up to £15,042
Add that to the £37,500 a year on jet-setting around the world and his £8,000 annual expenses bill and Bercow has creamed the taxpayer for more than £2 million since 2010. The ‘agent of reform and change’ is hardly short changed…
Readers will know parliament can be a tough place to work, just look at David Ruffley’s temper tantrums or what has been happening during certain ongoing criminal trials (allegedly). New figures reveal there have been at least five separate employment tribunal cases where bag-carriers made complaints against MPs since 2010, with some resulting in the taxpayer forking out for payouts where the staffer has been found to have had a legitimate grievance. However, Commons authorities are refusing to disclose how much has been spent on compensation for the reason that it was agreed in confidence with the MPs concerned. Given it is clearly in the public interest to know how much the public is paying and there is no danger of anyone being identified, that sounds like a cover-up to Guido…
Osborne’s pledge that we’ll be back in the black by 2018/19 raises the obvious question of why it has taken him so much longer than promised to cut the deficit. The Chancellor might want to take a look at DCLG, where ministers have set aside £230,000 for a series of music events aimed at promoting diversity, multiculturalism and community cohesion.[…] Read the rest
LibDem president Tim Farron wastes no opportunity to line his party’s coffers with taxpayers’ money. Last year re-renter Farron was one of the guilty men exposed for funnelling parliamentary expenses to his local Westmoreland and Lonsdale party, claiming £6,000 in the last financial year to rent a building owned by his local LibDems and letting them cream off the cash.[…] Read the rest
IPSA has today announced its latest proposals for reform of the MPs’ expenses scheme. Some of them are not bad ideas, such as publishing MPs’ landlords’ names and addresses each year, publishing details of contingency payments and further scrutiny of MPs’ mortgage interest subsidy and capital gains repayments.[…] Read the rest
Following Guido’s story about the PM’s trade envoy to Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan Charles Hendry taking a job with an oil company working in those two countries, Labour MP Sheila Gilmore has tabled two written questions to the Prime Minister demanding answers:
[…] Read the rest
To ask the Prime Minister, whether the appointments of the hon.
Following Guido’s story about Stella Creasy’s £31 junk food bill on expenses, the posh Labour MP suggested that the Jammie Dodgers, chocolate fingers and Starburst sweeties were for non-partisan community volunteers in her Walthamstow constituency. It turns out St. Ella wasn’t being entirely truthful…
Creasy’s #7Days4Stow campaign is advertised on her party website with Labour Party branding, uses Labour Party slogans and is backed by her local Labour Party, the campaign group Movement for Change set up originally by David Miliband – which describes itself as “the home of community organising in the Labour Movement” – is at the centre of Stella’s community volunteering.[…] Read the rest
Tory MP Charles Hendry has been a busy coining it since he was sacked as Energy minister, landing a £48,000 windfall from wind energy giants Forewind and hobnobbing with Hanover lobbyists and Environment Secretary Owen Paterson. On top of that, Hendry has now bagged another outside job as a consultant at oil giants Vitol.[…] Read the rest
IPSA have forced a trough-full of greedy MPs to repay £40,000 worth of expenses for claims that were in breach of the rules. New figures for October and November last year show 50 MPs were made to pay back cash. Some of the weirder repayments include £1,300 from Jack Straw for a year-long sublet of his constituency office for the Blackburn Labour Party and £1,250 from Vince Cable for subletting his office.[…] Read the rest