EU Budget Latest: €2 Million for “Private Storage of Cheese”

The European Parliament adopted amendments on the draft EU budget this week. A line-by-line breakdown of spending proposals was circulated to MEPs – it’s eye-watering even by the EU’s troughing standards. €2 million for “private storage of certain cheeses” really grates, as well as €700,000 for a “manual of good practices for cruises”. All-time-classics of outrageous splurging…

Independent MEP Steven Woolfe said:

“The EU is actually a parody of itself. If the British people needed further reminding of why they voted to leave the EU last year it’s set out in black and white in this year’s budget. ‘Ocean literacy for all’, a ‘Manual of good practices for cruises’!? The mind boggles. Presumably, the ten million Euros spent on ‘storage measures for skimmed-milk powder’ is to ensure that, in the event of a nuclear holocaust, Eurocrats in Brussels will still be able to enjoy a white Americano as they slowly die from radiation poisoning…”

Roll on 2019…

Welsh Government’s £1.8 Million Credit Card Splurge

The eye-watering £1.8 million credit card bill run up by the Welsh Labour government is exposed today, revealing how jet-setting civil servants are travelling the globe in 5*luxury while taxpayers pick up the tab. In total, £1,838,679 was spent on Welsh Government credit cards in 2016-17, up from £1.4 million last year. The extraordinary litany of waste would not look out of place on the bank statement of a Hollywood A-lister, but instead the extravagances are enjoyed by faceless Cardiff bureaucrats:

  • £203,644 was spent on flights;
  • £110,889 went on 4* and 5* luxury hotels;
  • When events are included, the hotel bill rises to £141,880, including a whopping £14,480 on exhibitions in the 5* Shanghai Peace Hotel;
  • £1876 went on on limousines;
  • £5418 was spent on Uber;
  • £3,028 was spent on yachting and boating;
  • £8604 was spent on luxury dining – with £1,652 alone being spent on 7 visits to the Michelin-starred James Sommerin Restaurant in Penarth (6 course taster menu £70, rising to £110 with wine; 9 course tasting menu is £90, rising to £150 with wine; the cheapest main course is £17 and the Welsh Lamb is £26);
  • £359 went on Nom Nom Chocolate, where a single bar costs £4.50;
  • £110 was spent on iTunes,

Shadow Finance Secretary, Nick Ramsay, said:

“The bill for Welsh Government credit cards is out of control. The purpose of these cards is to reduce the bureaucratic cost of processing small claims – not to make it easy to splash the cash with impunity in lavish restaurants and boutique hotels. Worryingly, since 2011, staff in the Welsh Labour Government have racked up over £9 million in credit card bills and it’s time for the system to be thoroughly investigated by the Auditor General.”

Welsh Labour is presiding over a bonfire of taxpayers’ cash…

Government Values Guardian Readers Most Highly

per-reader

Stephen Doughty, the Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth, is complaining that the government has spent some £5 million on advertising in the Tory press. By which he really means advertising in the popular press, the Daily Mail and The Sun get the most advertising revenue because they sell the most papers. Doughty says “I personally don’t think it’s appropriate to see extensive government advertising alongside homophobic headlines or the sort of language we last saw in the 1930s.” The snowflake left are rallying around advertising boycotts of publications they don’t like. 

Guido took a look at the same data in a different way; how much does it cost to to reach an individual reader? On that basis the government overpays to reach a Guardian reader (£2.15), 12 times what it pays to reach a Mirror reader (£0.18). Now Whitehall may have different objectives, Guido suspects it is advertising for more diversity officers on Guardian’s job pages and telling Mirror readers to claim benefits, stop drinking and eating sugar on the tabloid’s pages. Or possibly they are just over-paying to reach broadsheet readers…

Lights on in Brussels But Nobody’s Home

lights

Over in Brussels, the European Parliament’s grandiose Altiero Spinelli building is shuttered up with the Eurocrats and their bag-carriers off on summer holidays. Inside the 17-storey high-rise office block resembles a scene from an apocalyptic horror movie, not a person in sight. That hasn’t stopped them from leaving all the lights on. You won’t meet your carbon emissions targets like that…

Pics via Bill Etheridge

Taxpayer Billed Six Figures to Restore Whitehall Art

Guido has got hold of the bill for restoring the art decorating Whitehall departments. In the last two years alone the taxpayer has spent £168,515 touching up 829 paintings and sculptures. Many of the restorations couldn’t be valued so the real figure will be much higher. 

The frame and canvas of this oil painting of Charles II needed restoring. Cost to the taxpayer: £14,344.

Taxpayers also spent £6,747 repairing this large lump of bronze (above). And over five grand for this strange bowl thing:

Unbelievably, repairing this neon sign cost over two grand:

The government art collection is believed to be worth several BILLION pounds and most of it is never seen by the taxpayers who own it. Wouldn’t it be better to sell it off to galleries and ease cutbacks elsewhere?

Red, Red, Whine: Greek MEP Moans About Half Hour Plonk Wait

MEPs on the Brussels gravy train have been treated to a revamped gourmet catering service. The new menu features delights such as ‘Chavignol crottin cheese with bacon, thyme and honey’ for a starter, followed by ‘Striploin limousin with roquefort sauce’ and then ‘Chocolate moelleux with salted butter’ for dessert.

menu

Though not everyone is satisfied.

Greek MEP Eleni Theocharous fired off a lengthy complaint airing her grave concerns about the quality of service, copying in the entire MEP mailing list for good measure:

“I hope that the new provider will principally give priority to the food quality and to the service. What we need is good quality food, fresh and clean ingredients, no processed, conserved food. Speaking for the MEPs Restaurant, many times most of the buffets suggestions are harshly recognisable and sometimes with no taste at all. Gourmet kitchen is excellent but not at the expense of quality. Simpler is better… and healthier!”

Going on to moan about suffering an appalling thirty minute wait for a glass of vino:

“As for the service, most of the personnel is kind and they try their best, but especially at the MEPs Restaurant, the provider has to hire more people. We are people on the run all the time, we have little time to eat and many times we use this restaurant for professional reasons. We cannot wait for a glass of wine or a dish for 30 minutes…”

Lucky Greece doesn’t have any more pressing demands at the minute…

Forgotten EU Parliament Bans Brits Who Pay for It

secret eu parliament

British taxpayers are still paying for a forgotten European Parliament building that hasn’t been used for 34 years. The 208 seat chamber and attached buildings, located in Luxembourg, last hosted the European Parliament in 1981. The EU sees fit to shell out over £45 million a year to keep it running. Luxembourg is over 100 miles away from the Brussels…

The old plenary chamber is lavishly decorated with a massive zinc bas relief that was be the largest metal sculpture in the world when it was installed. Oddly, despite funding the Luxembourg Parliament as the EU’s second largest contributor per head, Brits are not allowed to visit it. Tory MEP David Campbell-Bannerman is livid “What a waste of yet more hardworking taxpayers’ money by the EU. I am an MEP and regularly use two Parliaments now, but I have never even seen this third Parliament. Now as a Brit they say I am not welcome there anyway!” Tours are only granted to citizens of Luxembourg, France, Belgium, Germany and Netherlands… something for David Cameron to add to his negotiation demands…

MoD Forced to Fight Russian Aggression… With Tweetdeck

navy twitter

The MoD is glued to Tweetdeck, scouring Twitter for sightings of Russian ships off the coast of Scotland, according to SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson, who made the claim in a speech at the Royal United Services Institute:

“In recent years we have seen increasing foreign military operations close to UK territorial waters and airspace, and the UK armed forces have been known to rely on intelligence from Scottish fishing vessels and social media as they have not had the appropriate assets in place in time.”

The MoD’s surveillance capability have been wiped out by the shelving of the RAF’s Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft programme. £3.8 billion was spent on procuring the Nimrod MRA4 before the airframes were cut up and sold for scrap. #PunchingAboveOurWeight…

BBC Licence Fee Lobbying Circle Jerk

With impeccable timing, every MP has received a DVD and slurpy letter from the BBC’s lobbying wing.

Ostentatiously designed to show MPs the quality of recent BBC work, it’s no coincidence that the targeted lobbying campaign has taken place in the same week that Whittingdale launches his BBC Charter Review Green Paper.

The BBC really don’t help their cause sometimes.

Using licence fee payers’ cash to lobby MPs not to cut the licence fee because – as they claim – there is no room for cuts in the corporation.

Here is an easy rump saving: say goodbye to the ‘Head of Corperate Affairs’. And his entire lobbying team…

No Hands On DECC

Decc

The Department of Energy & Climate Change paid £600 to promote just one job on the business social network LinkedIn. Despite the advert being seen by 4,162 people, the number of people who clicked on it was precisely zero.

According to an FoI request, the cash was shelled out to the recruitment agency Penna who “promoted” the vacancy on LinkedIn for them.

Efficient, data driven and on the ball with new technology; it’s everything we’ve come to expect from the DECC.

 

SPEAKER WATCH: Pointless Parliamentary Vanity Prizes

Browsing the Parliamentary Intranet, as is his wont, Guido has come across the ‘The Diversity and Inclusion Awards’ that took place on Monday. Another Bercow wheeze that we are paying for. “All parliamentary passholders are eligible to be recognised by the annual award”, and apparently the judges “had a hard job to choose from the high calibre of nominations, over 40 of which were submitted.” Don’t all rush at once.

Congratulations to all the worthy winners, in these powerful categories:

Embedding Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
Runner-up: Martin Smith (Deputy Business Relationship Manager, PICT)
Winner: John Thursfield (Portfolio Manager, DHRC) and Salma Dean (Peer’s staff)

Catalyst for Change
Runner-up: Polly Meeks (Inquiry Manager, International Development Committee, DCCS)
Winner: Catherine Tyack (Joint Clerk, Public Administration Select Committee, DCCS)

Most Improved in Access and Inclusion
Runner-up: Dane Smith (Visits Officer, Parliamentary Education Service, DIS)
Winner: Tony Williams (House of Commons Information Office, DIS)

Inspiring Role Model
Runner-up: Tom Goldsmith (Head of the Office of the Chief Executive, OCE)
Winner: Abiola Babalola (Senior Management Accountant, DF)

Special Recognition Award
The judges also conferred a Special Recognition Award to someone who was noted for having made a number of contributions to different areas of Parliament, including work on equality analyses across Parliament, support to individuals, and co-chairing of ParliOUT.
Winner: Jenny Radcliffe (Business Change and Project Manager, Security Arrangements Renewal Programme, Office of the Parliamentary Security Director)

 The only catalyst for any change that Guido can see here, is towards a new speaker. 



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Quote of the Day

Tory MP Nick Boles says what everyone thinks…

“There is a timidity and lack of ambition about Mrs May’s Government which means it constantly disappoints. Time to raise your game, Prime Minister.”

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