Sunday, December 05, 2010

Another Pathetic Expenses Story

Can newspaper journalism get any more pathetic than having a go at an MP for spending £31 over five months on biscuits for visitors to his office, and handwash soap for the office toilet? Because that's what the News of the World has done today to Blackpool Tory MP Paul Maynard.

Truly, truly pathetic.

By their logic their own editor should be funding all the News of the World office coffee and biscuits from his own pocket. Or maybe it should be Rupert Murdoch.

And maybe News of the World hacks whoo take MPs out to lunch should pay for the meals themselves? Just a thought. :)

Paul Maynard must be wondering why he bothered to get elected if this is the sort of thing that is thrown at him.

47 comments:

haddock said...

given the way that the 'Conservative' Party has ratted on its promises and principles ( remember those ?) he's lucky that it's just words thrown at him and not the ordure that MPs deserve.

The Purpleline said...

Until we bite the bullet and pay each MP £90-£120K a year Tax Free to cover all their expenses and compensate those further away with the top of that range then they are always going to be in the sights of the press and electorate.

This measure would save money in the long run as thee would be no policing or authority to check on how they spent it. If they did not do well then RECALL will be used.

Also being an MP should be opened up from this party state we need 25% independents to ensure scrutiny in the house. And for once and all let MP's male wear casual clothing to bring them up to date and with the public. Also stop calling them Rt Hon & Hon they are not in anyway better or different from Joe Bloggs on the street. The sooner we realise that the better

trevorsden said...

Agreed.

As a lifelong conservative I struggle to see the truth in haddocks allegations.

What I re,member is the party of McMillan. I remember the real Conservative Party, not the fiction perpetuated by haddock.

I remember Thatchers first cabinet which was more left wing than the current one. The conservative party was united under Thatcher not least because it had the 'liberal' Whitelaw as her deputy.

As both Brown and Blair ought to now know, 'Every Prime Minister needs a Willie'

Paddy said...

I think you (or maybe the Screws - I haven't seen the paper) mean Paul Maynard, not Paul Marsden (who was MP for Shrewsbury).

Either way, why on earth should he not claim for these things? Seem like reasonable business expenses for his constituency office. And, as you say, a trifling sum of money, which has been properly declared.

I worked with Paul a decade ago and have no doubt about his integrity and desire to serve the public. We should allow his staff to wash their hands on the State's shilling and give constituents the odd HobNob.

If we are to insist that MPs pay for everything that normal workers would be entitled to claim from expenses, only the rich will go into politics. I presume for consistency's sake, the journalists who wrote this pay for all drinks and lunches with sources out of their own pocket rather than the News International expenses...

Overtiredandemotional said...

The answer to all this is simple. Cease paying MPs a salary let alone expenses. Let us return to the days when MPs lived from their private means. The public expects most things to cost nothing now, so why not democracy? They can then spend money on things they really like.

Stephen Yeo said...

Paul Marsden was the Lib Dem MP for Shrewsbury until 2005.

The Tory MP for Blackpool North is Paul Maynard.

An Annie said...

Remember when call-me-Dave promised to clean up politics and change the system? He opposed Gordon Brown's efforts as being too little too late. Well the reason that these stories continue is because as soon as was expediently possible call-me-Dave dropped the issue. Beyond call-me-Dave's headline grabbing initiatives nothing effective has been done.

Craig said...

It seems to me the problem is that under the regime, MP"s have to claim for things as 'expenses' which are not expenses in the vast majority of other offices up and down the country. For example, stationary. In a firm of a solicitors, they don't each file a claim for the stationary they've used, its provided the by the firm. It seems to be that there is scope for more things (like stationary, office supplies) for example to bought centrally, taking things outside the expenses system possibly being able to source more cheaply as a central order will be far larger than a single MP purchasing on their own.

James said...

"By their logic their own editor should be funding all the News of the World office coffee and biscuits from his own pocket. Or maybe it should be Rupert Murdoch."

In every office I've worked in so far, we did indeed have to pay for our own coffee and biscuits. Is there any reason to think the NotW is different?

Lady Finchley said...

Okay, James - the coffee and biscuits is not for the hard worked staff (God forbid) but for the constituents who come and also for meetings that the MPs take on behalf of the constituency. Oooh what a sin!

Just the other day the Telegraph printed that George Osborne spents £90 on office stationery - shock, horror, probe! Danny Alexander got it in the neck for buying printer cartridges and a computer. Get out the knitting needles, Madame Defarge!

This crap has just got to stop. MPs are now frightened to death of claiming legitimate expenses such as travel to their constituencies and office supplies. Get a grip. Does the editor of NOTW and the Telegraph have to pay for office supplies upfront and then get reimbursed? Hmmm, thought not!

It seems everyone wants democracy on the cheap - MPs working for nothing and paying for the privilege, staff doing it for charity and bringing their own paper. Pray tell, constituents, how do you expect to get replies to your brilliant ideas for governing without paper and print cartridges? How does one make representations on your behalf to the Council, NHS and the Tax Credit office without computers and printers? Do tell.

In the meantime, MPs need to grow some cojones and tell it how it is instead of quaking in their boots at legitimate spends. Enough, already!

Right Hon. said...

This does seem a bit trivial I grant you.

However it seems that there are a whole of MPs still claiming for things they are not entitled to: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/8172585/MPs-still-claiming-tens-of-thousands-in-illegitimate-expenses-Ipsa-reveals.html

Crooked MPs, or just not very bright?

trevorsden said...

Once again we have people like an annien inventing the past.

Fist the only PM in recent memory to run the 'call me..' line was one Gordon Brown.

What has been dropped on expenses? All the new expenses rules were passed before the election. What more is there to do?
The fact that the new expenses rules are rubbish is not one that will be readily admitted by the howling mob so I am in no way surprised that the govt ate leaving well alone.

The point of the post is to expose the stupidity of the press. I grow tired of the anti politics oiks with their chips on their shoulders. Get a life.

Lord Blagger said...

52% of MPs paid back cash.

0% of MPs paid any interest on that money.

MPs are required


avoided any appearance of benefit or subsidy to the MP or anyone close to him or
her from public funds, or diversion of public money for the benefit of a political
organisation.


Thieves the lot of them.

The others either haven't been caught yet, or looked the other way whilst the money was looted

Lord Blagger said...

We also need the right of recall, and for everyone to have a final say in any act, tax rise, or borrowing made by the government.

Just wait until the students realise that 30K of debt is just a tenth of the debts the government has run up for every household, and they are going to be the ones that pay the bill.

Pensfold said...

I have worked at several private companies where we had a kitty for coffee/tea and biscuits because the company did not provide them.

Also at a large FTSE 100 company the vending machines were changed from being free to having to pay. When we had visitors we could claim it back.

Forlornehope said...

We're at war in Afghanistan. Our biggest trading partner's currency is in chaos. We've got the biggest government financial deficit ever outside wartime. All we can do is discuss the biscuits. Funnily enough this was exactly the example used in the original "Parkinson's Law".

Lord Blagger said...

All the new expenses rules were passed before the election. What more is there to do?

================

One thing is this. They should publish all the receipts. They should also inform us which MPs made claims that were refused. They should also publish the names of all MPs where 'arrangements' were made to pay back money.

They won't publish the receipts. That's a secret.

They won't tell us which have made claims that aren't within the rules. i.e. MPs trying to profit or who are too incompetent to fill out an expenses form. If they can't do that, they haven't the ability to run anything, let alone the UK.

Why should those that have been caught be allowed to keep the fact a secret?

Colin said...

The last time I checked, News International was not a Tax Payer funded organisation.

You're clearly now a fully paid up member of the UK political industry. Like the rest of your fellow members, your objectivity looks to be in question.

If you're not careful, your integrity will be next...

Unsworth said...

@ Lady Finchley

If "MPs are now frightened to death of claiming legitimate expenses such as travel to their constituencies and office supplies." then they really ought not to be MPs. If such things frighten them what on earth will they do when faced with real matters of concern - such as the security of the nation.

Just because we see newspaper articles such as this it doesn't necessarily mean we (the public) are in the slightest concerned. Let's not confuse press reports with public sentiment.

Yes, MPs (both male and female) certainly do need to grow some testicles - for a whole variety of reasons. I am utterly pissed off with the lack of courage, ability and integrity of these swamp dwellers.

Iain Dale said...

Colin, are you as much of an idiot as you sound? If you really think MPs should not be able to claim back normal office expenses then I suggest you see a shrink. Perhaps you think they should do the job out of the kindness of their hearts and pay their staff out of their own salaries.

I have never claimed anu semblance of objectivity. I give you my views. If you don't like them feel free to collect your refund at the door.

MPs have a right to be treated properly, just as anyone else does. I picked on this story as I regarded it as preposterus to pick on an MP for claiming £31 for normal office expenses. If you don't think that is unfair that says a lot about you.

Every day I thank my lucky stars I never got selected. Because if I had been, I'd have to put up with and be nice to people like you.

Right Hon. said...

MPs used to spend alot of their time working out how to flip their homes, employ their relatives and generally fiddle their expenses. Now they spend a similar amount of time working out how to fill in their complicated, but legitimate, expense claim forms.

I don't care if the IPSA system does cost more than the old system - it makes me feel better that MPs aren't helping themselves to large quantities of my taxes.

I'd prefer to have fewer MPs, do away with expenses altogether but have much increased MPs' salaries.
This might also have the effect of improving the quality of MPs. There was a selection of Lib, Lab and Con MPs on last month's Channel 4's program about the Trillion Pound Debt displaying an appalling level of ignorance about UK's financial state (don't know their debt from their deficit), only Alan Johnson knew the debt was trillions rather than billions...

Lady Finchley said...

Unsworth - it is indeed many members of the public who think this way particularly those not bright enough to form their own opnions. Every MP I know has been heckled and sometimes abused by a member of the public about expenses and as somebody who works for an MP, I and most of my colleagues have come in for some form of abuse. Mud sticks and the majority of MPs who have been honest and above board are still gettting it in the neck for the Chaytors, the Morleys and the Wintertons.

You only have to see some of the ignorant comments on any threads about MPs' expenses to know that.

Windsor Tripehound said...

It's a funny thing: the tabloids like to pry into the private lives of footballers and soap stars where there is no conceivable "public interest" issue involved other than downright prurience; but when Rupert Murdoch, arguably one of the most powerful and influential men in the world, dumped his wife of 32 years and went off with a Chinese woman younger than his children, none of them thought it to be a story worth investigating.

I wonder why that should be?

Sean Haffey said...

The real expenses scandal is nothing to do with MPs.

It's the vast sums of money wasted buying "entertainment" for various "businessmen"; tickets to the Opera, Wimbledon, the Grand Prix and more. When bankers are involved, it typically means that your pension and mine are worse off because these bankers are in effect being bribed to buy second best products.

Brian said...

"It seems everyone wants democracy on the cheap"

Well, with a trillion quid National Debt and govt borrowing of £150 billion per year it would be nice to try the choice of the majority to see how it works for us. "We are all in this together." The less money that Parliament demands for its running costs, the more that taxpayers would have available to spend at political parties' fund raising jumble sales and fetes. Why don't the big parties dare to have popular policies that would inspire voters to freely part with their money?

Lady Finchley said...

My God, Rt Hon, do you know all of the 600 odd MPs so that you can make such a blanket statement?

Having done the IPSA thing myself - it is not difficult but infinitely more time consuming and I just don't see how it makes the process more transparent so why is that better just because it wastes more time? As I work for an incumbent MP I've not had the sharp end of the stick but I do know plenty of new MPs that are still out of pocket because of IPSA's inefficency.

Colin said...

Iain,

I don't think I'm an idiot and I don't think that MPs should not be able to claim legitimate expenses and BTW I regard biscuits for meetings as legitimate.

The point I was making, which you clearly missed, is that you cannot remotely compare a public servant with an employee of a private sector company, such as NI.

Maybe the sub-text of your post is that NI journo's should busy themselves by following up on all those MPs, including front benchers, who've yet to properly account for their conduct in relation to the misuse of tax payers money. If that's the case, good on you...

Perhaps you should consider fitting a couple of safety catches to your knees, for the purpose of preventing unplanned or hysterical jerk like reactions.

Lastly, as an FYI, I thought it was a shame you weren't selected.

Unsworth said...

@ Lady Finchley

You cannot assume that all members of the public feel the same way as those you or your colleagues may deal with. These people are, after all, a self-selecting group.

However this manipulation of expenses (or, theft, as I prefer to regard it) has been known of for many years. Why did the 'innocent' MPs not take action to expose this criminality? Why did they just simply ignore the situation? For that matter why was the Fees Office so complicit?

As you have said, MPs need to grow
some - and rapidly. That applies to their staff, too. By their silence all these people are condoning such actions.

Iain Dale said...

Colin, now you've made me feel guilty :). Well, sort of. But from what you say you agree with me... So I am still a little mystified by your original comment.

But I meant what I said about being glad I didn't get selected - and I never, ever, thought I would say that, I can assure you.

Right Hon. said...

@Lady Finchley
I do have some sympathy for the honest MPs who have suffered because of the behaviour of the corrupt scumbag MPs.

However my view of MPs is heavily coloured by my last MP who swindled me, the taxpayer, out of at least £150,000. And although this thief and his MP wife were forced to pay back some of that amount they were still able to stand down with large parachute payments and generous publically funded pensions. In my view he committed fraud and should have been prosecuted for it.

Libertarian said...

Iain

Get a grip, you run a business, have you never had the vat man or HMRC in?

The rules and regulations passed by your put upon MP's are exactly what we get in business. Every expense is questioned, every receipt is combed over, every expenditure is questioned.

That's life in over regulated, red tape, bureaucratic nightmare Britain.

Yes it's pathetic nonsense that MP's are taken to task for this kind of minuscule expenditure , well hello boys welcome to the world you created.

If they don't like it WTF don't they create a system that actually works, that IS their job after all.

Libertarian said...

Dear Lady Finchley,

Oh my heart bleeds for them/you.

Try being on the receiving end of the criminal insanity that passes for employment/business law out here in the real world.

I got a letter from a Tory MP a few weeks ago slagging off me and my business because of something a constituent had told her. She hadn't bothered to check who we were or what we do, her constituent is the local nutter.

I wrote a very polite letter pointing out that we don't even do what her constituent said as a business. Not a word in response.

There are far too many MP's and most of them have no value to society and are a drain on the taxpayer. If they don't like being abused go and get a different job, there isn't a shortage of idiots who do want the job

Victor, NW Kent said...

A pathetic effort by the NOW. Of course those are legitimate expenses.

Lady Finchley said...

Unsworth - what makes you think MPs and their staff know about the business of the 600 odd other MPs - don't be absurd. Do you think the guilty advertise their guilt? What world do you live in? Would you be culpable if your brother was fraudulently claiming money - I don't think so. What a pathetic and weak justification for your misguided opinion. Simply pathetic.

As for Libertarian - another weak and futile argument - you obviously have an agenda with MPs. I am sure the MP didn't accuse you but merely asked for your comments. An MP is obliged to take up the case for all their constituents, even you. And maybe you do have a case to answer. How does it feel to be unfairly judged? Hmmm? And if any idiot can do an MP's job, why don't you give it a go?

Lady Finchley said...

Yes, he perhaps he should have been, Rt Hon, but that is no reason to brand every last MP as a scoundrel.

And IPSA is costing YOU the taxpayer a mint just so people like you can feel better - so glad you don't mind that but I bloody well do.

Lord Blagger said...

Anyone who thinks the debt is a trillion and the deficit 150 billion is wrong.

That trillion is just gilts.

No pensions are owed, civil service when they are retired won't be paid anything ....

Lord Blagger said...

I do have some sympathy for the honest MPs who have suffered because of the behaviour of the corrupt scumbag MPs.

=============

There are the 52% who were and still are corrupt. (No interest has been paid and that's against the rules)

The 48% stood back and let them.

Unsworth said...

@ Lady Finchley

As much of this theft was actively encouraged by the Whips and the Fees Office it would be remarkable if all these colleagues of yours knew nothing - as you seem to be saying. Do you seriously believe that MPs do not talk to each other about such matters? Perhaps you do. The fact is that even after the furore some MPs are continuing to make such claims, although Iain's point about the stupidity of this particular press report is well made.

The scandal of MPs expenses was known long before the Telegraph revelations - both inside and outside Parliament. Hence the infamous John Lewis list and the deliberate obstructions of Michael Martin. You personally may not have known, but that is unsurprising - given that you seem to believe it perfectly OK to witness fraud and simply do nothing.

Note my choice of word - complicit. None so blind as those who will not see, or those who simply shrug and turn away. Anyone with half a brain looking at the claims which were being made could deduce that MPs were ripping off the taxpayer. In no other walk of life were/are such claims made by or paid to employees. We pay these MPs. They are employed by us.

Would I be culpable if my brother was fraudulently claiming? Obviously not of the fraud per se, but I'd be complicit if I knew it was going on and said and did nothing. That's the difference between legal and moral obligations - in case you haven't quite understood.

In the light of that it is as well to view all those in Parliament with considerable distrust until such time as they prove themselves worthy of our trust and confidence. And that, unsurprisingly, is the view of many of the voting public. Nothing you have written here or elsewhere has served to reduce that justifiable cynicism.

Right Hon. said...

Lady Finchley said: "And IPSA is costing YOU the taxpayer a mint just so people like you can feel better - so glad you don't mind that but I bloody well do."

I do feel better that unscrupulous MPs are no longer filling their pockets from the public purse. Are you advocating going back to the old system?
The whinging and whining MPs are truely, truely pathetic... Baffled by an expense system but feel capable of running the country...

And in the spirit of balance:
* Big thumbs up for the uber-thrifty Jeremy Corbyn for only claiming a total of £8.70 for his post-election expenses.

* Big thumbs down for the blog-lying, daughter-employing, IPSA-hating Nadine Dorries.

Samuel Dale said...

Yep, it's absurd. It makes you admire anyone who puts themselves in the firing line of being an MP.

There were some real abuses of expenses but they have been obscured by the stream of garbage - such as this - about trivialities. Shame.

................................. said...

"Paul Marsden must be wondering why he bothered to get elected if this is the sort of thing that is thrown at him."

Especially if people can't get his name right...

Lady Finchley said...

Unsworth - how dare you cast aspersions on my honesty - you clearly know less than nothing about life. Do you really think that MPs discuss their expenses of with each other? How simple you are. And how dare you and Rt Hon assert that all MPs are filling their pockets. You two are clearly the most vicious, pig ignorant people I have ever come across and are simply not worth answering further. What a sorry lot you are - spiteful and ill-informed.

Right Hon. said...

Oh do calm down LadyF. You're the ignoramus... try actually reading what I wrote.

Unsworth said...

Lady Finchley

I'm not casting aspersions on your honesty. I think you do genuinely believe everything you write. As a matter of interest where did I say that all MPs were/are filling their pockets?

You're now asking that we should accept your assertion that each and every MP never discusses expenses, or the regime, with another. That's a remarkable position, given that it is on record that Whips encouraged MPs to 'fill your boots' and the Fees Office took exactly the same stance. It's also on record that many of those who fought against the formation of IPSA - like Vera Baird, Austin Mitchell etc - were claiming that they would have to be compensated to make up their incomes to previous levels. Yet the formation of IPSA did not change the fundamental allowance regime in the slightest.

Of course the whole debate over the formation of IPSA was not a discussion of expenses, was it? And there were no discussions of any sort outside the Chamber, were there?

How do you know this to be so?

As to 'how dare' etc, well, tant pis. This is a forum, take it or leave it. For what it's worth many here are not quite as stupid, ill-informed, vicious, pig-ignorant and spiteful as you might wish to believe. Many are simply not as credulous as you might wish.

Lord Blagger said...

No one has assert all have filled their pockets.

However, 52% of MPs paid back cash after signing it was wholly necessary for their jobs as an MP. That statement was clearly fraudulent as they gave the cash back.

Not a single MP has paid any interest on this, contrary to the code of conduct on personal benefits.

As for the 48%, I've no doubt large numbers knew it was going on, because we've had comments that they refused the advice of the fees office to make claims. However, not a single one raised the issue of this advice in parliament to the effect that the tax payer was being ripped off.

In other words, they were complicit.

So Lady Finchely, in this case you've got it wrong.

So perhaps you can answer some quetsions.

1. Why are current receipts secret?

2. Why are details of failed claims secret?

3. Why are details or even names of those who are still paying back cash under secret deals not revealed?

It still stinks.

Libertarian said...

@Lady Finchely

Wrong I'm afraid, the letter was rude, accusatory, factually incorrect and threatening.

No, I don't have an agenda against MP's, but I dohave an agenda for quality.

Why don't I become an MP, well because I'm really busy actually doing the work, creating, the wealth and providing the jobs that snotty leaches like you live off.

Lady Finchley said...

No smoke without fire, Libetarian -maybe she WAS on to something. You know, how all businessmen are corrupt, rip off merchants.

What's good for the goose....