Monday, October 12, 2009

Paying the Price

This morning MPs of all parties will be getting letters from Sir Thomas Legge ordering them to pay back money to the taxpayer. There will be howls of complaint from many MPs about the unfairness of it all, especially from those who fall foul of the retrospective rules which Sir Thomas has apparently decided to impose. But if you start of precedent of passing retrospective legislation, as happened recently with various tax laws, the public will have little sympathy for MPs who bleat about it in this case. And rightly so.

MPs who are innocent are having to pay the price of those who are not. They must bite the bullet and take the heat, or get out of the kitchen.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

Haven't the rules always said "wholly, necessarily and exclusively incurred" in the performance of parliamentary duty.

If they have then how is making them pay back expenses that were not incurred "wholly, necessarily and exclusively incurred" in performance of their parliamentary duties a retrospective rule?

Do you still not get it?

john miller said...

I would be astonished if Sir Thomas were applying legislation retrospectively. I think this is mis-direction from Downing Street.

As far as I am aware he has applied the "wholly and exclusively" test. This alone has wreaked havoc with most of the claims.

As for misleading us that the Fees Office was some sort of policing authority, whose advice (if it ever existed) cannot subsequently be challenged, this merely reinforces my opinion that they are morally, as well as financially, corrupt.

Joe Public may not know the true status of the Fees Office, but enough of us do to spread the word.

Victor, NW Kent said...

A error to believe that Sir Stuart Bell's interpretation of Legg's mandate is the only one or even the correct one. He was, after all. Michael Martin's main accomplice in the attempts to have these excesses hidden forever.

Let us see in which direction the new Speaker, John Bercow will lean. It will tell us a lot about this man.

All those who refuse to pay up must be named and shamed. then we must send Legg to look at the various Barons and Baronesses in the Lords who have been on the fiddle.

Nick said...

There are no retrospective rules.

That is the lie the politicians are pushing. The rules were just ignored.

Hence there is no defense.

Even the statement that Jacqui Smith hasn't profited is a lie. She did by over 64,000 pounds. If she had followed the rules she couldn't have claimed for all those home improvements.

However, your point that they don't like it up 'em is correct. They don't.

However, it didn't stop them doing this to the rest of us.

Nick

Stronghold Barricades said...

and what price for the former two homes secretary?

Pete said...

Unfortunately, I am afraid that Lrgge can't `order` but only `recommend`

Mick anderson said...

The only rule that needs to apply is the one to the effect of "wholely, exclusively and necessarily for the execution of duties as an MP". So, no food, no mortgage payments, no cleaning bills, no house maintenance, no TV subscriptions, no bath plugs, no porn.

If I can't claim it in my business life, they shouldn't be able to claim it as MPs.

Anything less is utter hypocrisy, but what do you expect....?

Dan said...

I couldn't agree more. It utterly infuriates me when they introduce retrospective legislation, as far as I am concerned it is tantamount to theft. MPs might think again in future (or then again maybe they won’t) if they realise how infuriating it is when it happens to them.

Gary said...

Well said Ian.

Short and to the point. Well done.

Unsworth said...

Let's get this right. Paying the price? Whose damn money is it anyway? Apologies come cheap enough, don't they?

That ghastly Jacqui Smith animal is apparently to stand up and apologise - to her peers - for ripping us off? Why? These are the self-same fellow MPs and co-conspirators in the wholesale rip-off of us all. How absolutely beyond farce or even Kafka.

These people are truly disgusting. This latest wheeze is the final nail in the coffin of Parliament.

If the Conservatives wish to be part of this charade it will do nothing but damage their electoral chances. "We are all in this together"? You betcha. Cameron's strongest card with the voting public was his stance over the whole expenses scandal. Is he to back down now?

Laurence said...

Lying thief to apologise to lying thieves for thieving.

Will Rees said...

"MPs who are innocent are having to pay the price of those who are not. They must bite the bullet and take the heat, or get out of the kitchen."

on the contrary, 300 out of 650 is more than a few bad apples, Innocent MP's should resign their seats to save their honour, 350 bi elections should be enough for the rump to get the hint

Sir Bunton-Greatcoat said...

"wholely, exclusively and necessarily for the execution of duties as an MP"

So what? (erm, I mean "so weak")

It is part of an MP's duty to fiddle his/her expenses, always has been.

It's just the politics of envy. Go and eat cake.

Anonymous said...

Those that fail to pay back monies looted on expenses should be made to forfeit their MP's pension rights from the moment they became, or ceased to be MP's.

This cash belongs to the UK taxpayer not troughing MP's.

tapestry said...

The Blairs have many questions to answer. The only record at the Fees Office against Blair's name to be found reads '£230 cost of shredding files as requested'.

Legg seems to warned Blair to get out in time. See Legg Protects The Powerful" for a bit more detail.

Brian said...

They still don't get it. Claims paid out that did not fall into the Greenbook's rules were fraudulent.

The public won't be happy until all thieving MPs have been sacked and prosecuted. NOW!

Anonymous said...

Sir Stuart Bell is completely wrong. Michael Martin made explicit that the investigation would "take into account of any issues arising from that examination which caused them to question them."

The terms of reference also stated that Legg was:

To examine all payments made on such claims, against the rules and standards in force at the time, and identify any which should not have been made, and any claims which otherwise call for comment

Clearly he has been given a broad remit, and rightly so.

Brian said...

Stuart Bell is also expounding that the rules have changed... oh yeah? See here:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8161912.stm

I guess that technically, the rules have been changed, but not to any real effect. Not in the way they promised, not in the way we the public wanted and demanded if they wanted our trust again.

It'll be back to the trough for the MP piggies.

Ed said...

I agree Iain. But while there's a certain sense of MPs having earned their karma on this occasion, as a point of principle, retrospective legislation is a disgrace and it should be outlawed in Cameron's British Bill of Rights.

Scary Biscuits said...

Iain, I don't think you will be doing your prospects of (s)election in Bracknell any good if you continue to offer even a partial justification of MPs' excesses. (Just remember what happened to Eric Pickles on QT.)

I agree with Anon 1254 et al. These rules aren't being applied retrospectively; that is just Mandy-spin. The rules are being applied in their literal and intended meaning, as they always should have been: "wholly, necessarily and exclusively" should be engraved on the heart of every MP and PPC.

Anonymous said...

+_+_+_+_ WHITE WASH +_+_+_+_+_

Here we go again paying for even more white wash.

The findings of the investigation into Jacqui Smith found her guilty as charged. She says sorry to her comrades and that's it? She said sorry (in a way) before and we didn't need to pay for an investigation for it to happen.

Can we have our money back for the investigation please as it was obviously ineffectual.

Anonymous said...

bite the bullet in the kitchen, presumably. what a way with words you have today!

jon dee said...

Victor @ 1.00 pm

Dead right.

Bell's influence/control of Martin has been a key factor in the behind- the - scenes pantomime for a number of years.

Harman and Bercow are now the one's to watch.

Guthrum said...

Paying the Price as in keeping the loot and apologising to Parliament

True Belle said...

What really upsets me is that educated responsible people in charge of decision making and those who were shadowing the decision making DID NOT KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RIGHT AND WRONG!

They knowingly bucked the system.

Can we be really fierce now with those who seek diplomatic immunity by virtue of various embassies here in the UK for the many unpaid bills that cause endless grief .

This country could sort its finances out by calling in all the debts that it's owed, is there no factoring Quango that deals with things like that?

Anonymous said...

Not many comments on here.

Maybe I just don't get it.

Norton Folgate said...

MP's who are "innocent" sure as hell knew what was going on so quite how innocent they are is debatable.

They are being REQUESTED to pay the money back, not ordered.

Jaqui Smith has just gotten off scot free with stealing £116,000 of tax payers money and having to pay back nothing more than an apology.

They are untouchable and we are powerless.

Anonymous said...

Will the Outer London second home cheats like Jon Cruddas be caught by the Legg?

Mike Law said...

I don't see how "MPs who are innocent are having to pay the price of those who are not." - surely, they are all paying back money they should not have claimed for in the first instance!

Wholeheartedly agree with the first comment here (anon 12:54 PM)

AJ said...

How is me paying for the PM's Sky subscription within the rules? If you choose to have Sky as an MP you should pay for it yourself.

How is cleaning and laundry etc wholly necessarily and exclusively incurred in the performance of parliamentary duty, I amazingly enough have to do my own cleaning and laundry, I can't claim it to my employer.

They need to get in the real world and understand that in private industry you just wouldn't be able to claim for what they can claim for.

Forge said...

good luck with the open primary, hope you win

the tone of this post should help :P

Anonymous said...

whats the latest on Miss Kirkbride????

Any Colour but Brown said...

Reading these posts, it is obvious that all these expense breached another rule - that all expense claims must be above reproach.

Quietzapple said...

Fu - u - u nny how Legg brought in some extra "Rules" re limits on flat cleaning (which is what it was all about) and Gardening (a nice little extra) to catch out the PM and Lib-Dem Party Leader - eh?

Remains true that that, because successive PMs have done their best to insist on holding MPs' salaries back, "Allowances" or "Expenses" as they later came to be known, became an important part of MPs' incomes.

The Fees Office even pushed MPs to CLAIM! CLAIM! CLAIM! and pushed some to declare their London flat as their principal residence.

I am disgusted by those who treat this as a a bigger issue than the tax evasion of the billionaires who own the Tory Party and so much of the media, and the Second, Third, Fourth etc "Interests" or "Jobs" of so many MPs.

We should prioritise the way decisions are made. If your fans get their way we can look forward to the most corrupt government in our history.

But . . chickens . . one, two . .

Nick said...

It's worse. All their expenses are exempt from tax, unlike the plebs

Quietzapple said...

Btw I gather hardly any, if any, got letters in the morning:

http://robnewman.typepad.com/a_weekend_revolution/2009/10/quite-a-day.html

Care to confirm, Iain, that you and the others who got it wrong shaped the logistics of the Legg letters' issue?

Iain Dale said...

Quietzapple, I might if I understood what the hell you were on about.

Anonymous said...

Quietzapple:

Proof (if it was ever needed) that drinking on an empty brain is not a good idea.

In Contempt of Parliament said...

You know, I've just read an account of some poor woman with a minimum wage job - probably not the sharpest knife in the drawer - who happened to do a little overtime, and didn't think to tell the benefits office. An honest error, amounting to a few tens of pounds, and something that could surely be sorted out with a quick phone call. And how she spent three weeks of tears and sleepless nights and worry before being summoned to attend an enquiry, grilled at a formal interview over suspected benefits fraud, threatened with prosecution, cautioned, and the trivial amount of money taken back. A few weeks later, she gave up work entirely, so that she would never have to go through such an experience again.

MPs need to find out how sympathetically the rest of us are treated should we be suspected of having defrauded the government. A shop worker will lose their job if they take a tenner from the till. A hundred grand?! Their feet really would not touch the ground!

That's a lifetime's savings for most people, not something you can accidentally 'overlook'. And this person is supposed to be switched-on enough to be running the country? We don't believe it.

Tell you what - we'll do you a deal. We'll let you keep your dodgy expenses claims, if you enact laws telling the revenue and all the other Jacks-in-office to give all of us the same consideration. "I didn't pay the right amount of duty? Sorry sir. All square now, right?"

Because I can still imagine the quavering voice of that frightened woman in my mind, apologising over and over again, pleading. Begging. For there is no mercy for her sort, and we both know it.