I suppose if I was being naughty I could say that the fact that Jacqui Smith's husband needed to "entertain himself" by watching pornographic moves, adds weight to the argument that she spends more nights in her rented one bedroom London residence than she does at her second home in her constituency. After all, what's a boy to do...
The thing is. While entertaining Rosie Palm and her five daughters, Richard Timney hasn't, in theory, done anything wrong. The rules allow MPs not just to claim for mortgage interest on a second home, but also to furnish it and pay for "services". These include Cable TV and Sky. Perhaps individual PPV films don't qualify, but in the rules there is nothing to stop film and sport packages being claimed for, as well as news channels.
From 1 April even these rules are being replaced with some vacuous policy which takes all responsibility away from the Fees Office and puts it entirely on the shoulders of MPs. Even if the Fees Office advises them that a claim is acceptable, it is left to MPs to decide "how this would look if it appeared in a newspaper". Incredible. This can only make matters worse and give the Mail on Sunday even more fun at politicians' expense.
But if you think this episode is embarrassing, just wait until July, when the expenses of all MPs are revealed, down to the very last detail. Sky is reporting today that Jacqui Smith claimed for an 88p bathplug. Of course she did. The rules allow her to. They also allow for lightbulbs to be claimed for, doormats, knives and forks, and indeed anything else which a second home requires.
I take the view that MPs from outside London should indeed be allowed to claim for a second home. But they should only be allowed to claim for mortgage interest, rates and utility bills, and possibly a one off initial relocation cost of, say £5k. The rest of the furnishing and upkeep of that home is down to them. If you want a TV, you pay for it. If you want to have cable TV you pay for it. If you want a bathplug, or any other kind of plug, you pay for it.
UPDATE: Headline hattip to Davidodavido
Why, if the armed services can have barracks why cannot homes/block of flats be provided.
What I cannot accept is that they get these second homes and can sell them. I presume the pay that money back to the exchequer?
Strapworld has it correctly.
I can't claim for all this stuff.
Nor can anyone else that I know of, barring MPs.
It is just not right.
The best system would be to pay MP's a decent wage in the first place.
If MP's were on say £120k a year plus a second home allowance for those outside central London that paid for a mortgage and say £10k worth of furnishings, plus other travelling expenses, then I would have absolutely no problem with that.
After all, that's not unreasonable considering that there are local council staff on excess of the current £67k and they don't have the responsibility nor status of MP's.
The current system is a bastard hybrid of an attempt to please everyone, and has left everyone dissatisfied.
It recognises that MP's aren't paid enough, but since the public won't stomach the required level of increase needed, they've simply made expenses more and more generous. So really an MP's salary is their salary plus what they claim on expenses.
That's stupid. Make it simple, make it transparent. Recognise that an MP is high office, recognise the status that comes with it with a high salary of £120k pa. Recognise that a second home is essential for those outside london by paying the mortgage of a property in central london. Recognise that they have to furnish this property with £10k worth of furnature and other equipment. Recognise that they need to travel around the UK and reimburse them for that.
Other expense however can come out of their salary.
That's more than fair, especially considering what happens in other countries.
MPs who live outside London shoul be subject to the same rules as any other employee who is required to be in London.
Train costs to get to London (standard class, not first class - no company allows normal employees first class) and the rates for a hotel for the night. Any expenses accumulated in the hotel come out of the MPs pocket. The taxpayer should only pay to get an MP to London in order to do their job. Any costs that come outside of the job (buying a home, watching 'movies') should come out of the MPs salary.
The whole system of MP allowences is a joke. They have this system so that they can raise their income without making the headline salary look too large.
There should just be a basic allowence for expenses on top of their salary, set at a realistic level. We should not be funding everything they do.
What if it wasn't the Home Secretary's husband who was watching the films?
Now that Sky has taken off "Swiss Railway Journeys" from Channel 253 what is the poor husband of a Cabinet Minister supposed to do? Especially, as Shaun the Sheep is away on holiday.
What a fool - it is all free on the internet! At a pinch he could have called Edwina round.
It couldn't have happened to a more unpleasant woman. The whole thing is just too delicious for words. Yum yum.
I would be interested (in a mischief making sort of way) of knowing how many of the MPs second home mortgages are held by banks now majority owned by the government.
So as an MP I can get Cable or Sky on the taxpayer...where do I sign????
Seriously though, this is total insanity. What needs to happen is to get independent, intelligent members of the public - not MPs, not judges, not party members, just ordinary people to look at these expenses and MPs pay and reform it themselves, with a referendum given on various options, with the option voted as most preferable by the people being enacted without alteration or delay.
The whole issue of MPs expenses is a piss take.
Regardless of the arguments for and against paying for their second homes (which I think they should be made to sell once they are no longer MPs and the proceeds should go back to the Treasury), why do we have to pay for all these "extras"?
I find it absurd that they get allowances for food; didn't they eat before they became MPs?
And why should we fork out for what they watch on TV? For f#ck sake, read a bloody book... Animal Farm would be a good choice.
Mr Law - spot on.
I find it eye-waterning that they claim for tis stuff - a plug FFS.
Talk about a subsidised life.
I have a big NO in the pay-rise box. They can claim expenses like any other taxpayer under HMRC rules.
And provide itemised receipts for them too.
And not employ their husbands on the state unless they successfully apply for a freely advertised post.
I've just paid over £11k to HMRC in tax on my little business - so that's just been swallowed up by these piggies in just a blink of the eye.
Enough is enough.
wv prosper !!!!!
From Red to Blue would have been snappier.....
Mike Law, well said. Personally I think they get rather well paid as it is. A major in our army gets slightly LESS THAN HALF of an MP's salary and with few expenses allowed and second class travel at all times.
Give them £100,000 max and do away with the expenses system. Let them pay their staff etc from that and all the furnishing of the second homes that, I can assure you, wouldn't be bought because they would have to pay themselves.
Could well be that the job would attract a person of ability and principle if this was the case, instead of greedy individuals with such little intelligence they can't even check a simple expenses sheet.
It's all in the rules I expect.
Problem is, who wrote the rules?
Are they allowed to claim for SKY?
I saw/read a report that it was an 'error' in a claim for broadband.
Some broadband can come with a freeview and satellite subscription. So what is the exact rule? It seems to me that claiming for 'broadband' and surrepticiously geting TV is a further scam.
"Any costs that come outside of the job (buying a home" -- this is rubbish.
An MP might live outside his constituemncy to start with - say Oxford. Win a seat somewhere else - say Reddich and still have to travel to and work long hours in London.
There is nothing wrong with the allowance to have a flat in London - it is purely when it is abused by people like Smith. And if an MP does not have a presence i the constituency - this is exploited by opponents.
The only honest quotation on MP's expenses was uttered by Harry(I'm better value than W s Churchill)Cohen who was instructed to 'fill ye'r boots son' by the Labour Whip.
Expenses is a racket designed by politicians of all parties to allow same to 'fill their boots' whilst keeping headline pay at modest levels.
As for Mr Timney perhaps he had better drop the Redditch Advertiser a line explaining that he was undertaking research on exploitation of women for the Home Office.
Perhaps Mr Desmond of Express Newspapers could give Mr Timney a free subscription to Asian Babes now that Ms Smith has cancelled the sub to Sky Adult Channel.
Why don't we abolish the entire concept of a "career" politician and just simply have a basic wage.
That way, maybe, someday, we have a small number of individuals that may take a more realistic view on how best to allow people to run their own business and lives, rather than laying down a plethora of policies that fine tune their porcine ways.
I'd rather had an individual that has worked for most of his life that actually starts to have an appreciation of the real world and understands the values of true success.
As they say in business: duvet days are all too frequent in the paradigm of paid sick leave, but when you are only rewarded for the hours you actually work, suddenly you become all too well.
Good headline and good piece. Have you seen Frank Fisher's post re the dick on the roof, very tongue in cheek.
Why should tax payers have to pay politicians at all? We should all sponsor those politicians who represent our values and whose policies we agree with.Why should I have so subsidise those politicians whose views and ideology I hold as evil and obscene -ie Labour and liberal MPs?
Oliver Drew said... “So as an MP I can get Cable or Sky on the taxpayer...where do I sign????”
Hmm. BBC News Channel, Sky News and BBC Parliament are all genuinely free to air so no Sky sub needed - just the kit. I believe it’s now being marketed as Freesat.
BBC 1, BBC2, Three, Four and all Radio Channels genuinely FTA so ditto.
And more recently ITV, Ch 4 and lastly Ch5 genuinely FTA.
That includes FTA of all localised BBC and ITV channels for an MP’s local newses where appropriate. If you want to watch the Borders news, you can at no charge.
So now I think about it, what exactly does any MP need a Sky sub on expenses for - watching the excellent Stephen Colbert show? [The Daily Show is FTA on More4.]
Although some TV access for MPs is more free than others, eh Simon?
a touch of porkiness
UPDATE: Apparently the naughty films were: Confessions of an MP, and Screwing Joe public.
Oh come on.......if you were married to Jacqui Smith wouldnt you want to watch porno....
I'd rather wear a welder's mask to be honest
Simon Gardner said...
"Hmm. BBC News Channel, Sky News and BBC Parliament are all genuinely free to air so no Sky sub needed"
But you will have to pay a Licence Fee to fund the BBC if you wish to view Sky (I know it sounds silly but it's true).
BTW, does Jacqui Smith claim back her Licence Fee as well as her Virgin Media subscription?
At what point do we expect MPs to pay for things out of their own wages which are, by the way, much higher than the national average?
How about a floor of £50 for all claims? Anything below that the MP can easily afford to pay out of their salary.
At least that way I wouldn't have to learn of Mr. Timney's activities (what was it? £11 a pop, so to speak) resulting in mental distress to myself and possible therapy.
Also makes you wonder whether Mr. Timney has taken the fall for this and perhaps it was Jacqui Smith or both of them who enjoyed blue films on the tax payer.
The thing about this that seems to stick in everybody's craw is that the MPs don't pay tax on their benefits... yet they pass laws against the rest of us doing just that. (Remember the tax on mobile phones anyone?)
These benefits were introduced because they wanted to give themselves a pay rise but recognised that it was politically unacceptable. Now their way round that has been uncovered, it is still politically unacceptable to pay them more than £60k. Their current pay still make them the best paid MPs anywhere in Europe, apart from Italy.
Expecting MPs to vote for a pay cut is unrealistic. As an alternative may I suggest simply making the rules for taxpayers the same as those for MPs. If MPs like Eric Pickles think that it's ok to have a second home in London if you live in the suburbs then campaign for the rest of us not to be taxed if we do the same. If Caronline Spelman thinks her employer should pay her childcare costs, let her vote for that privilege for us too. If Jacqui Smith thinks that she's entitled to an unreceipted subsistence allowance for time away from home, then why has she voted that ordinary workers should suffer prohibitive taxes if they do the same?
Personally, I don't think MPs should be paid more than median wages for the whole country and that their job should be part-time so they can not only top up their salaries but also reconnect with the real world. Ministers' salaries should be on the same basis as any other employment.
If this is unrealistic, allowing the rest of us tax breaks along the lines that MPs have allowed themselves would at least take some of the sting out of this ongoing crisis and, as an effective tax cut, provide welcome relief in the current economic climate.
Every day I think to myself "NuLabour cannot sink any lower" and every day I am proved wrong.
Scary Biscuits -Amen!
You forgot pensions - and let everyone have pensions the same as MPs
According to The Mail the films were viewed at Smith's (West Midlands) home on Tuesday April 1st and Sunday April 6th last year. Any idea as to where the stunning Ms Smith might have been? Diary entries for those dates?
You can see why these people don't want their expenses to be revealed.
Does Jacqui Smith's hubby have an orange penis?
Why should taxpayers pay 88pence for Jacqui Smith's bath plug let alone her husbands porn flicks (bet that annoyed Harriet Harman!)...
Why not let all MPs live in a Dolphin Square type apt complex if they need to work in London, cover travel expenses - and then pay them a fair salary? End of the gravy train.
It's not surprising that so many people think that most politicians are on the make...
They probably are...
The entire system needs to be overhauled.
It's not just the expenses that need looking into, there are also the select committees which are used to 'top-up' MPs wages and provide them with plenty of free jollies around the nation. Those need a sledgehammer taking to them as well.
I simply cannot understand why people call for the 'system' to be overhauled. It's not the 'system' that forces MPs choose to make such claims. It's simply that none of these outrageous bastards has the slightest conscience or personal integrity.
Any 'system' which is brought in will immediately have the acountants and lawyers crawling all over it to find the loopholes, anyway. And then the whole process of deliberate evasion will start again.
What's needed is a change of attitude, a sense of morality, principle, decency and honour. Not too difficult for those who are so inclined. You don't need 'rules' to live by, just a few principles. By their actions we'll know them - and they'll be judged.
A good start would be to take a close look at the actions and history of your MP and see whether he/she is really the kind of person who ought to be representing you. Do they meet your own standards of behaviour?
Funny thing really, when I was in the domestic supply in RAF Germany back in the eighties I used to get bollocked for dishing out lightbulbs and vacuum cleaner bags to anyone that asked. They sold them in the NAAFI apparently. I'm curious as to how they think this kleptocracy is going to continue when myself and people like me keep losing our jobs.
Mr Timney looks like a w.... and I guess he has now confirmed it. Are we paying for cookery channels for Her Highness Jacqui Smith I imagine that equates to porn for her.
I find hard to respect any MP who pontificates about how wrong it is for people to dishonestly claim benefits - while they too abuse the taxpayers good will.
What is the difference between a 'benefit cheat' and an MP who claims for 'fabricated' expenses?
There is no punchline there...I would just like someone to explain the difference?
The solution might be quite simple >> don't vote for an MP if he or she is known to be a dishonest hypocrite. Simply DO NOT vote for them.
The more I think about this the angrier I get. What is most hypocritical is that Smith, McNulty and Butler all stood on a socialist platform and all bang on to a greater or lesser degree about the redistribution of wealth… yeah, of course - redistributing it to their pockets.
apparently she told him to rig the election but he misheard and grabbed the "wrong end of the stick"
@Mike Law - the Tories are just as bad as Labour...All parties are on the gravy train.
It's not just a 'Labour problem' - it's everyone's problem - most of all the taxpapyers problem.
Ian Dale wrote ... I could say that the fact that Jacqui Smith's husband needed to "entertain himself" by watching pornographic moves, adds weight to the argument that she spends more nights in her rented one bedroom London residence than she does at her second home ...
A logical deduction from the available data. Of course, given the fellacious (Inspector Gadget ©) nature of some politicians it would be fallacious to assume that the most obvious explanation is the most likely.
Indeed, she may absent herself to facilitate his activity, rather than him activating his facility due to her absence.
I think your views on this are prety fair Iain.
It is important for MPs to be paid so that, in principle, not only those with private incomes can be MPs. But this cavalcade of dishonesty and shystering has become too much.
Given their responsibilities, they should get more than the median wage, and I am not one of those would would reduce the number of MPs. [I at least, with Ivan Lewis, can always get a personal answer to a written question, of which I send quite a few, as well as invites to surgeries if more time is needed - far more local service than a US Rep with a 1.5 million pop district can give.]
[BTW is anyone else impressed by blogger's ability to come up with non real but real sounding words for verification: I got "derse" for this, which should have a meaning even if it doesn't]
I accept that (to a degree) but that isn't the point I'm making.
It's far more outrageous when these ZaNuLabour buffoons pontificate about the plight of those on low incomes when they are siphoning off money that should rightly be used for the benefit of all.
Sorry, that was @canvas
CNN has just appeared for free on my local Freeview, along with Russia Today at some hours.
I think a case could me made for MPs paying for Sky because of all the news channels in carries for free which Virgin doesn't - for example China CTV, Indian NSTV, Al-Jazeera/English, and France 24. All good channels when you want to see different points of view.
[Word verification; "pergerit" - perhaps it could mean something you loose at cards and then get back"]
@ Mike Law...
that's exactly what I said above...but it's NOT just Labour. Look at Conway.
"What is the difference between a 'benefit cheat' and an MP who claims for 'fabricated' expenses?"
Oh wait I know the answer - the 'benefit cheat' gets fined and possibly goes to prison.
A dishonest MP apologises, maybe resigns, or as in most cases, 'gets on with the job'. Possibly the best political cliche of the 21st century... "I'm getting on with the job".
What a Juan Quer.
I didn't stop smiling until the boat race. It's up there with the satsuma & tesco bag dude.
In essence, I'm in total agreement with you.
Just been watching Channel 4 news.
Ocean's 13, Surf's Up and porn - why should we pay for Smith and her family to watch any of this?
Furthermore, the Channel 4 reporter covering the package stated that it was a mere £67. Which is more than most unemployed have to live on for a week.
Furthermore, the Channel 4 reporter covering the package stated that it was a mere £67. Which is more than most unemployed have to live on for a week.
Don't worry, he's apologised and agreed to pay it back. Apology
So that's alright then.
Could a 'benefit cheat' apologise and offer to pay it back - and escape a criminal record? I doubt it.
MPs could be the new 'bankers' if they don;t sort it out.
it is left to MPs to decide "how this would look if it appeared in a newspaper"
Sorry, Iain, but that is not the question they should be asking - in effect, 'How embarrassed will I be if I'm caught?'.
The correct question should be, 'Is this the right (and honourable hoho) thing to do?'
What an expensive wank, perhaps he should use the 'Billy Haigh' technique to avoid excitement.
I just read this article in the Times about David Cameron...
..."He promised that a Tory government would "lead by example," by paying off public debt and curbing spending while supporting parents, teachers and doctors to take the right decisions.
And he delivered a hard-hitting attack on irresponsible benefits cheats and bankers, saying that the culture of relying on others and thinking only of oneself "must end"."
Surely DC should have included MPs in that speech?!
Would he care to explain why there are two sets of rules?
Canvas - it's called Parliament. You being half Yank can cite Congress as a similar 'are they really serious?' case in point.
In listening to the 1979 vote of no confidence debate last night it became so apparent how much of it was so esoteric as to perhaps dog whistle to Miriam concerned with her local post office - they never stop campaigning, they never ever stop campaigning and because we're 14 months off in a minute - the wasters are now shouting and screaming 'look at me - I still love you my brilliant voters'.
Is it pathetic or beautiful - I dunno - work with what you've got eh?!?
D the P, do you think it is hypocritical of DC to exclude MPs from moral obligations to the taxpayer?
DC likes to bang on about 'broken Britain' (and he's wrong about that) - surely it is Parliament that is fractured?
Society is not broken. But at least DC admits society exists.
Ms Smith had given her husband, an "real ear-bashing". Is that some new sex technique that she seen in some porn film she watched with her husband?
Ms Smith not being that great a looker, I don’t know if I would like her to give me an ear-bashing? Would love to know if she only wears stockings and suspenders with matching bra and knickers while giving this ear-bashing that might change my mind?
Does she ear-bash her husband in her office, or her sisters spare bedroom where she alleges she spends most of her time when away form her husbands house. Now I know why he was watching the porn! she is never at home and he must feel the need to relieve some of his pent up tension watching porn?
So far no one has asked what type of porn was it? Was it gay porn, or is he into grannies, or is he into midgets or could it be he is into gay midget granny porn?
Yes completely. I'm thinking that it will have to be an election pledge - sign up to this or be named.
It's different for a PM that a President - a PM's voice is sotto voce until he has the whips - it has to be done before and how good odds d'ya reckon they'll do a Tony McNulty and blame the system rather than the individual and open it out to the House of Lords etc. Hell, even Haigh & Duncan became pricks - no relation!
Outside jobs are irresponsible - if it's too cheap - sod off.
"that she seen in some porn film she watched with her husband?"
Maybe but the point about these films was that he was watching them alone. Despite this address in London allegedlybeing the family home - her husband was miles away on his own watching a film.
"It is important for MPs to be paid so that, in principle, not only those with private incomes can be MPs"
Correct - but its also important that 'ordinary' people can have some sort of physical presence close the Westminster (unlike 'wealthy' ones)
Paul Halsall said... “Simon Gardner. CNN has just appeared for free on my local Freeview, along with Russia Today at some hours. I think a case could me made for MPs paying for Sky because of all the news channels in carries for free which Virgin doesn't - for example China CTV, Indian NSTV, Al-Jazeera/English, and France 24. All good channels when you want to see different points of view.”
OK, well I didn’t bother going through the full list because frankly it’s way too long. Us sat nuts use lyngsat.com. For the purposes of the “UK” satellite, it’s specifically http://www.lyngsat.com/28east.html
So what I didn’t bother including is that Bloomberg TV Europe, France 24 English, Russia Today, Prime TV (UK), CCTV 9, Al Jazeera English, CNN International Europe, Euronews (in about 9 languages), the funny Iranian propaganda news channel that George Galloway is always on, all my earlier list, the other ITV channels (2-4), the +1 channels, all the C4 additional channels etc, etc are ALL free to air satellite requiring no payment to Sky or sub whatsoever.
There is absolutely no legitimate reason whatsoever any more for an MP to claim a Sky sub on expenses. He/she just needs the satellite kit - no more.
The real question is why did she watch Oceans 13 twice? Is she too thick to get it the first time around?
Was listening to you on 5 live.
MPs are legislators? May well have been the case in the past, but can you really defend that position now? EU legislation! Statutory instruments!
I've no problem with MPs employing relatives as long as they go through an interview process. Salaries for MPs researchers and staff should be set as a standard i.e x amount for senior staff member, y for researcher, z for case worker. Each MP should be allowed the same number of staff as every other MP and this should be paid for out of a central parliamentary fund. Thus, we the taxpayer will know exactly what we are paying for and what it will cost.
MPs being paid and compensated for working long hours away from their families???? Don't you think this sentiment should be stretched to the service men and women who are thousands of miles away fighting wars at the behest of the government?
5k is a bit mean perhaps. But as others say the whole structure is wrong. We should be paying for accommodation not creating excess wealth. Who cares about the odd bath plug. It is the million pound house paid for in full by the taxpayer over a few terms that I object to. Not a few plus. Still less a couple of 18 certificate films erroneously claimed. Such a non-story.
Why has John Lyons and his commission never come out and tell the public what they do when they receive a complaint about an MP.
John Lyon is in receipt of over 100K a year from the public purse this makes him a Public servant and as such open to public scrutiny.
John Lyon and his commission must not be permitted to hide and conduct their crucial investing of MP's in secret.
The last time I checked we were not some Robert Mugabe type regime, well not for the want of trying by Zanu- Labour!
Just as an aside; were they cleared to submit the bill for the other films that were watched. If they were cleared to get paided to watch these films I want to know why?
What part of Ms Smith’s or her husband Dicks’ parlamaintry duties did the other film’s fulfill?
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