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…
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…
Dozens of MPs claims for their constituency office on expenses even though it is already owned by their local party or a friendly donor. Taxpayers end up effectively making a donation to party funds or refunding donations given privately. Parliamentary authorities have cottoned on to the “re-renting” scam and are preparing a report which will once again out dozens with their snouts in the trough. Yet another round of expenses scandals…
Guido can reveal one of the big name ministers set to be exposed is the LibDems’ Ed Davey. He claims £12,352 for 2012/13 on expenses for his constituency office rent in Surbiton – which is more than enough to cover any mortgage. As revealed in yesterday’s Sun column, deeds seen by Guido show that the property is already owned by the Kingston Liberal Democrat Property Company Ltd, and his wife Emily is a director of the company. The building is also being used by local LibDems as their headquarters for party political activity, subsidised nicely by the taxpayer.
We put the £200,000 mortgage borrowing into our calculator with a standard 25-year term and found the LibDems should have been paying just over £900 a month in mortgage repayments, yet Davey is claiming for over £1,000 a month towards rent. The rules state that for an office shared between party political and constituency work the costs should be apportioned to fairly reflect the dual use. So how is he is claiming not just a proportion of the property cost for rent, but more than the entire property costs to mortgage?
A quick browse of comparable local offices available to rent shows that Davey is charging taxpayers double the market rate for office space. The cash is being recycled from the taxpayer into party funds. There is no chance of the Energy Secretary or local LibDems going cold this winter either. Davey claims for the office’s gas and electricity bills on expenses as well.
With an MP’s constituency office rent expenses scandal coming, Guido can reveal the name of another shadow cabinet minister helping out his union mates with taxpayer cash. Shadow Welsh secretary Owen Smith has claimed up to £1,500-a-month in expenses to pay his constituency office rent. What is the address of his constituency office? That would be the subtly-named GMB House, on Morgan Street in Pontypridd. The GMB union can then effectively pay the £1,500-a-month of taxpayer cash back to Labour as part of their (soon to be reduced) £1.2 million donations to the party. Taxpayer funding of political parties and their donors through the back door. Expect many more of these in the coming weeks…
Next month the rental agreements for MPs’ constituency offices will be published, exposing just how many MPs are bunging taxpayer cash to trade unions and their local parties by claiming rent for properties they could have access to for free. Regular readers will be aware of the potential for troughing here…
It may not be for personal gain, but if the parties are taking money from the taxpayer in murky circumstances, that does not make it any better. Back in 2010 Sarah Teather’s back-door party funding was revealed in a Guy News investigation:
Unions are often major beneficiaries of rental trickery. Luciana Berger claims £1,750 per quarter for her constituency office rent, her office is the UCATT building in Liverpool. They’re donors…
Geoffery Robinson does the same for Unite:
This is a scam used by Labour MPs to, perfectly legally, funnel taxpayer cash to a donor who then gives money back to the party. Next month we will find out if the Tories are pulling an equivalent stunt; claiming taxpayers’ money to pay rent to a private donor, who then gave money back to the party, it would be a major scandal. Where there’s a rule to bend, there’s a will…
The good news is IPSA says MPs should no longer be able to claim for:
- A £15 evening meal when Parliament sits after 1930
- Hospitality tea and biscuits
- Hotels before 0100
- Taxis home before 2300
- Contents insurance for a second home
- Installing a TV in a second home
The bad news is they think that should come with a bribe of a £7,000 pay rise.
And surprise surprise, the troughers’ union – Kevin Barron’s morally bankrupt Committee on Standards – has rejected the expenses restrictions. How times change…
Labour are moaning about flexible working hours in the Commons right now.
Apparently working limited hours is very, very bad.
Unless you are an MP, of course…
Guido is looking forward to Lin Homer’s appearance in front of the Public Accounts Committee this afternoon. This £180,000 a year civil servant first hit the headlines in Birmingham with electoral practices “that would disgrace a banana republic.” Thence to positions running immigration where her “catastrophic leadership failure” resulted in a £20,000 performance bonus and a move to Transport where a disastrous franchise letting process costing £100m qualified her for the biggest executive job in the civil service – collecting the nation’s taxes as head of HMRC. Here, her “woefully inadequate” response earlier this year to a critical report was noted by the Public Accounts Committee. Next episode begins at 2.30.
Eleanor Laing is the still the front-runner in Deputy-Speaker election. She has public support from Labour’s side; Kevin Barron has written to Labour colleagues calling on them to support Laing and Chris Bryant is sounding out support for her. If Chris is her campaign manager on the Labour side, his own failure to win election to the Shadow Cabinet doesn’t bode too well. After Laing was exposed for not paying capital gains on the £1 million profit she made when she “flipped” her home in the great 2009 expenses scandal, she told Guido she would stand down in 2010. She obviously didn’t.
As for her supporters; Kevin Barron, chairman of the Standards and Privileges Committee which judges MPs’ ethics, sold his taxpayer funded home for a tax-free £500,000 profit, whilst Chris Bryant flipped his ‘second home’ twice in two years at taxpayers expense.
Quite a flippin’ team.
UPDATE: Eleanor Laing called within seconds of this post going up to deny she ever said to Guido that she would stand down. We both agree where and when we had a conversation, she denies saying anything of the sort. Guido’s recollection is different. She also points out that Sir Thomas Legg’s inquiry did not result in her being ordered to make a repayment – because, we both agree, “it was all within the rules”. We’ll leave it at that…
Adrian Bailey: Jill Bailey £9,999
Adrian Sanders: Alison Sanders £29,999
Aidan Burley: Jodie Jones £29,999
Alan Campbell: Jayne Campbell £4,999
Alan Haselhurst: Angela Margaret £44,999
Alan Meale: Diana Gilhespy £19,999
Albert Owen: Samuel Blyth £29,999
Alec Shelbrooke: Susan Shelbrooke £14,999
Alex Cunningham: John Cunningham £9,999
Alistair Burt: Eve Burt £39,999
Andrew George: Jill George £4,999
Andrew Miller: Frances Miller £29,999
Andrew Robathan: Rachel Robathan £24,999
Andrew Smith: Valerie Smith £14,999
Andrew Turner: Carole Dennett £19,999
Angela Smith: Steven Wilson £39,999
Angus MacNeil: Jane MacNeil £24,999
Angus Robertson: Carron Anderson £29,999
Annette Brooke: Eleanor Perera £4,999
Barry Gardiner: Caroline Smith £24,999
Ben Wallace: Liza Wallace £24,999
Bill Cash: Bridget Cash £29,999
Bob Ainsworth: Gloria J Ainsworth £14,999
Bob Blackman: Nicola Blackman £34,999
Brian Donohoe: Christine Donohoe £24,999
Caroline Flint: Phil Cole £39,999
Cathy Jamieson: Ian Sharpe £14,999
Charles Walker: Fiona Walker £29,999
Cheryl Gillan: John Leeming £19,999
Chris Grayling: Susan Grayling £39,999
Chris Ruane: Gillian Roberts £24,999
Chris Williamson: Margaret Amsbury £29,999
Christopher Chope: Christine Chope £49,999
Clive Betts: James Thomas £34,999
Craig Whittaker: Sophie Whittaker £19,999
Dan Jarvis: Rachel Brookes £9,999
Dan Rogerson: Heidi Rogerson £9,999
Daniel Poulter: Carol Poulter £39,999
David Amess: Julia Amess £19,999
David Burrowes: Rebecca Chard £39,999
David Crausby: Enid Crausby £39,999
David Davies: Aliz Harnisfoger-Davies £9,999
David Davis: Doreen Margery Davis £34,999
David Hamilton: Jean Hamilton £29,999
David Mundell: Oliver Mundell £29,999
Dennis Skinner: Lois Blasenheim £39,999
Derek Twigg: Mary Twigg £29,999
Desmond Swayne: Moira Swayne £9,999
Diana Johnson: Kevin Morton £39,999
Frank Roy: Ellen Roy £4,999
Gareth Johnson: Wendy Johnson £14,999
Gary Streeter: Janet Vanessa Streeter £14,999
Gavin Williamson: Joanne Williamson £4,999
George Howarth: Julie Howarth £34,999
George Young: Camilla Young £34,999
Glenda Jackson: Clare Fletcher £9,999
Glyn Davies: Bobbie Davies £19,999
Graham Brady: Victoria Lowther £44,999
Graham Evans: Cheryl Evans £24,999
Graham Stringer: Eleanor Carr £29,999
Graham Stuart: Niki Roberts £34,999
Graham Morris: Michelle Morris £14,999
Greg Knight: Janet Knight £24,999
Gregory Campbell: Frances Campbell £19,999
Helen Grant: Simon Grant £9,999
Helen Jones: Michael Vobe £39,999
Henry Bellingham: Emma Bellingham £14,999
Henry Smith: Jennifer Lois Millar-Smith £24,999
Hilary Benn: Sally Clark £24,999
Hugo Swire: Alexandra Sasha Swire £34,999
Hywel Francis: Mair Francis £44,999
Iain McKenzie: Alison McKenzie £4,999
Iain Wright: Tiffany Wright £29,999
Ian Davidson: Morag MacKinnon £34,999
Ian Lavery: Hilary Lavery £24,999
Ian Liddell-Grainger: Jill Liddell-Grainger £34,999
Ian Lucas: Noah Lucas £9,999
Ian Murray: Hannah Woolfson £9,999
Ian Swales: Anne Marie Swales £9,999
Jackie Doyle-Price: Mark Steven Coxshall £19,999
James Gray: Phillipa Gray £34,999
James Paice: Ava Paice £14,999
Jeffry Donaldson: Eleanor Donaldson £24,999
Jim Dobbin: Mary Dobbin £34,999
Jim Hood: Marion Stewart Hood £24,999
Jim Sheridan: Joanne Riley £29,999
Joe Benton: Doris Benton £24,999
John Healey: Jackie Bate £14,999
John Mann: Joanna White £34,999
John Robertson: Laura Robertson £4,999
John Stevenson: Tracy Nixon £9,999
Julian Brazier: Katharine Elizabeth Brazier £19,999
Julie Elliott: Miles Elliott £24,999
Karen Bradley: Neil Bradley £44,999
Karl McCartney: Cordelia McCartney £39,999
Kelvin Hopkins: Patricia Hopkins £14,999
Kevin Barron: Andree Deane £14,999
Laurence Robertson: Anne Marie Adams £44,999
Lee Scott: Estelle Scott £34,999
Liam Byrne: Sarah Harnett £9,999
Linda Riordan: Stephen Roberts £39,999
Lindsay Hoyle: Catherine Hoyle £14,999
Malcolm Bruce: Rosemary Bruce £35,000
Margaret Beckett: Lionel Beckett £30,000
Mark Garnier: Caroline Garnier £40,000
Mark Pritchard: Sondra Spaeth £45,000
Mark Simmonds: Lizbeth Simmonds £25,000
Mark Tami: Sally Tami £20,000
Martin Caton: Bethan Caton £35,000
Martin Vickers: Ann Vickers £10,000
Meg Munn: Dennis Bates £25,000
Menzies Campbell: Elspeth Cambpell £30,000
Michael Dugher: Joanna Dugher £35,000
Michael Fallon: Wendy Fallon £20,000
Michael McCann: Tracey Ann McCann £35,000
Michael Moore: Alison Moore £20,000
Mike Penning; Angela Penning £35,000
Nadine Dorries: Phillipa Dorries £45,000, Jennifer Dorries £35,000
Neil Parish: Susan Parish £20,000
Nigel Adams: Claire Adams £20,000
Oliver Heald: Christine Heald £40,000
Owen Paterson: Rose Paterson £35,000
Patrick McLoughlin: Lynn McLoughlin £40,000
Patrick Mercer: Susan Gray £40,000
Paul Beresford: Julie Beresford £30,000
Paul Farrelly: Victoria Perry £5,000
Paul Flynn: Lynne Flynn £20,000
Peter Aldous: Mark Bee £10,000
Peter Bone: Jeanette Bone £50,000
Phil Wilson: Margaret Brown £40,000
Philip Davies: Deborah Davies £25,000
Phillip Lee: Anthony Lee £10,000
Rehman Chishti: Nusrat Ahmed £25,000
Richard Ottaway: Nicola Ottaway £15,000
Richard Shepherd: Davida Catleugh £40,000
Robert Buckland: Sian Reed £5,000
Robert Goodwill: Maureen Goodwill £20,000
Roger Gale: Susan Gale £40,000
Ronnie Campbell: Deirdre Campbell £15,000
Russell Brown: Gillian Carey £25,000
Sharon Hodgson: Alan Hodgson £35,000
Simon Danczuk: Karen Burke £30,000
Simon Hart: Abigail Hart £25,000
Stephen Crabb: Beatrice Crabb £20,000
Stephen Gilbert: Jaqueline Bull £15,000
Stephen Hammond: Sally Hammond £45,000
Stephen Pound: Maggie Pound £25,000
Teresa Pearce: Paul O’Neill £10,000
Tim Loughton: Elizabeth Loughton £10,000
Tom Harris: Carolyn Harris £35,000
Tony Lloyd: Angharad Lloyd £10,000
Valerie Vaz: Paul Townsend £40,000
William McCrea: Robert Watters £25,000
Yvonne Fovargue: Paul Kenny £25,000
£4 million-a-year of your money goes straight into their pockets…
Following on from Guido yesterday, this morning the Mail and the Mirror go after the MPs who top up their household income by employing their wives and daughters, creaming off the taxpayer. A quarter of MPs give a job to their family, the taxpayer forks out £4 million-a-year to pay the wages of family members. The problem is not so much that relatives of MPs have these jobs, rather the often non-existent selection process. How did they get the job? What was the selection process? How can they ever be sacked?
One of the most common complaints Guido receives from parliamentary researchers is that in some cases family employees simply don’t do any work for their money. They often aren’t even aware the wife is employed at all…
Back in 2009 after the expenses scandal Sir Christopher Kelly’s Committee on Standards in Public Life report into MPs’ Expenses and Allowances looked into this in detail. They found that MPs paid family members on average nearly £2,000 more than non-family members.
The Committee determined
- Such arrangements are at odds with good employment practice in the private and public sector.
- There would be line-management issues between two people who had a personal relationship and “it is difficult to see how such an approach could ever operate satisfactorily in practice, given the personal relationships involved.”
- Employing family members is fundamentally unmeritocratic, restricting access for others to political experience and jobs.
- The employment of family members has been banned in a number of other legislatures.
- MPs’ offices are not small family businesses. They are supported by public funds.
For those reasons the Committee on Standards in Public Life recommended that
MPs should no longer be able to appoint members of their own families to their staff and pay them with public funds. Those currently employing family members should be able to continue to do so for the life of one further Parliament or five years, whichever is the longer.
MPs quietly scuppered the family gravy train being derailed…
The combined parliamentary and ministerial salary for Cabinet ministers is £134,565, five times the wage of the average Briton. Ministers of State trouser £98,740, for under-secretaries of state a paltry £89,435. Clearly that is not enough for some however.
New data shows the Grayling household tops up Justice Secretary Chris’ six figure salary by charging the taxpayer between £35,000 and £39,999 to employ his wife Susan.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin’s wife earns the same amount.
Rose Paterson, wife of Owen, the Secretary of State for the Environment for Rural Affairs who is worth £1.5 million, makes between £30,000 and £34,999.
Millionaire Chief Whip Sir George Young employs his daughter Camilla on up to £34,999, while Alistair Burt and Hugo Swire at the Foreign Office have given taxpayer-funded jobs to their wives Eve and Sasha.
Sally Hammond, wife of Stephen is on up to £44,999.
These ministers have household incomes of up to £175,000-a-year straight from your pockets.
Peter Bone manages to shoehorn his wife “Mrs Bone” into almost every speech or question in the House. “Mrs Bone” has almost become a PMQs institution. What you might not know is you are paying for that dubious pleasure. New IPSA data reveals that Mrs Bone was paid between £45,000 and £49,999 last year. Meaning that between them the Bones are pocketing more than £100,000 from the taxpayer. Not so funny now, is it?
New data from IPSA reveals that through employing two of her daughters to work in her office, the taxpayer paid the Dorries girls up to £145,000 last year. More than the PM. 28 year old Philippa Dorries earned between £40,000 and £44,999 as her office manager, while Jennifer Dorries raked in £30,000 to £34,999 as a senior secretary. Nadine earns £65,000 as Member for Mid Bedfordshire. No wonder she can stop claiming for expenses…
UPDATE: Nadine gets in touch to complain that this gives the wrong impression. They were as IPSA say both employed in the 2012-13 financial year, not simultaneously. Philippa Dorries left her employ in August 2012 and Jennifer Dorries started working for her in October 2012 according to Nadine. Same year, not same time…
The party funding figures are out for Quarter 2 of the year. The Tories are out front with £4,116,006 while Labour’s £3,136,447 is almost entirely from the unions. The LibDems have struggled to even raise a million with £801,448, while UKIP’s £160,289 was double what they raised in Q1.
The biggest donors were:
Unite the Union £772,195 to Labour
Ms Joan L B Edwards £420,576 to Tories
Ms Joan L B Edwards £99,423 to LibDems
GMB £485,830 to Labour
UNISON £458,080 to Labour
Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers £411,147 to Labour
Mr Michael S Farmer £280,770 to Tories
Mr James R Lupton £263,600 To Tories
National Conservative Draws Society £165,000 to Tories
CWU £143,121 to Labour
Offshore Group Newcastle Limited £117,300 to Tories
Clearly whoever Joan L B Edwards is, she really really likes the coalition. Labour got another £2,241,419 in short money, yet despite this have gone cap in hand to the bank again:
Let’s hope the Co-op bank will be able to keep up their support. Labour still have more than £12 million in outstanding loans, while the Tories owe £2m. Ker-ching.
UPDATE: According to City AM Ms Joan Edwards left half a million “to whoever was the party in government of the day”. This was then divided down the MP/Ministerial split of the coalition.
In the mid-seventies MPs were paid in line with average wages, now they are triple average wages. Why?
IPSA’s 11% pay increase for MPs includes:
- a salary of £74,000 in 2015, indexed to average earnings in the whole economy thereafter;
- a new pension on a par with those in other parts of the public service, saving the taxpayer millions;
- scrapping out-of-touch “resettlement payments” worth tens of thousands of pound per MP and introducing more modest, modern redundancy packages, available only to those who contest their seat and lose; and
- a tighter regime of business costs and expenses – ending the provision for things such as evening meals.
They are spinning hard by throwing expenses into the mix so overall they can say money is being saved. On pay alone this is a net cost of £500,000 a year….
First the facts and figures; MPs are paid a handsome £66,396 plus another £14,582 if they chair one of the 39 Select Committees. If they number among the 169 MPs who are ministers they also receive extra payments to compensate them for the burdens of the Red Box. If they make it to Cabinet they add an additional £68,827 – more than doubling their MP’s salary to £134,565. In short whereas the basic pay of an MP is more than triple the average £19,000 income of UK workers, almost a third of MPs are earning between 4 and 7 times average earnings. This is of course before any outside earnings are taken into account.
Read the rest of The Thunderer…
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) looks set to bung troughing MPs a 15% / £10,000-a-year pay rise, even though both Labour and Tory MPs support policies restraining public sector pay rises to 1%. As Ed Balls says: “There is no way we should be arguing for higher pay when the choice is between higher pay and bringing unemployment down.” Last week Osborne attacked “some public sector employees” who “see annual pay rises of seven per cent”.[…] Read the rest