Pyramid Comment

This journal takes an alternative view on current affairs and other subjects. The approach is likely to be contentious and is arguably speculative. The content of any article is also a reminder of the status of those affairs at that date. All comments have been disabled. Any and all unsolicited or unauthorised links are absolutely disavowed.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

MP Expenses - Escalation

In February 2008, UQ (aka UK) Ltd prime minister Gordon Brown, supported the expenses of speaker Michael Martin, MP. It seems that MPs are not satisfied with their current pay so an effective increase is acquired by large expense claims.
If the money is not enough then get a real job
Once in the job, an MP seems to assume the position of determining the conditions and rewards that should apply. Much like Fred "The Shred" Goodwin and his ilk, if they threaten "to go abroad where the pay is better" - then just go. Such a pathetic justification to pump their ego because they are 'so-important' that they actually believe we cannot live without them. It's breathtakingly naïve and staggeringly incredible. These 'so-important' and 'very clever' people are the same ones responsible for the mess. That's so clever, but as corporate principle spews forth: the bigger the cock up, the higher you fly. All the way up (or down) to £703,000 every year.
  • Pure conditioning alone makes people believe that upwards is to goodness and Heaven. It would be a better description, perhaps, to promote the idea of upwards to Hell and downwards to Heaven. People would then actually end up where they should go. There would be quite a few surprises.
The salary for an MP is £64,766 (after a 2.3% increase) and all expenses (including travel) claimed amount to a taxpayer-funded £92,993,788. This amounts to an average of over
£144,000 for every MP and is more than 2.2 times the salary
Married couples like Ann (Brentford & Isleworth) and Alan Keen (Feltham & Heston) receive a combined total of £315,282 including (not inclusively) £38,193 for the mandatory second home. Total = £353,475. Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper get two bites of the same cherry at £308,185 including £24,438 for a second home (the same one presumably) giving a total of (£332,623). Add the £4,105 for family travel and this yields £336,728. But husband and wife team Andrew MacKay (Bracknell) and Julie Kirkbride (Bromsgrove) settle for only £283,404, but £45,685 for the second home (£329,089). This drops to £245,603 (£210491 + £35112) for Sir Nicholas (Macclesfield) and Lady Ann Winterton (Congleton). This all makes for a mixed bag of values.
  • The cherry picking of an appropriate defence argument is quite repellant. The outrage expressed by Brown over the Goodwin pension juxtaposed with this expenses business is an example of hypocrisy. If a second example were necessary, then Martin is a reasonable contender. Going wherever the wind blows to get the most (perceived) public support.
The filth has plumetted so low in the banking and financial sectors and government that it is quite irretrievable. This does seem to always happen when a government becomes stale and devoid of any real governance. With nothing to do it becomes a BIGGER bully and milks the system for all it's worth while it is still (just) alive. It's like a terminal death that just fails to materialise. It's so peculiar that the dying animal goes out of it's way to become a better pariah than it already is. This does seem to be the way of the politician.
  • Such integrity
  • Such probity
  • Such honesty
  • Such value
  • Such contempt
It could be expected that every barrel has its rotten apple or two, but these are the people who are appointed to cabinet posts by an unelected prime minister. These people are in a position that should not be abused, but it is ludicrous to imagine that this could never happen. Some are probably good people, but only a few rotten apples will ruin the entire content. Uninterestingly, though importantly, the contributory pension scheme for Members of the House of Commons to which MPs contribute 10 per cent of their parliamentary salary could theoretically use part of their allowance entitlement to pay such a contribution, thus forcing the taxpayer to settle the pension bill. Gordon Brown talks up a lot of rhetoric (for public consumption) about his objection to the offensive (to the public) expense claims, yet his past attitude appears to be an absolute contradiction.
  • Prime Minister Gordon Brown has ordered a review of expenses to be speeded-up amid growing public anger but Mr Cameron has called for action now.
Apparently, not due to report back until after the next election (Committee on Standards in Public Life). Currently, it would appear to be a non-existent standard.
But, significantly, other than the suggestion that reporting back will be earlier, no indicatiion of any timeframe is given. Basically, it appears to be no more than an attempt to buy time. Nothing need happen as a result of the statement issued. Cynical. Expenses probe to be speeded up Predictably, it comes as Speaker Michael Martin said he was "deeply disappointed" expenses details were leaked to the media. Allegedly, MPs were told that 1.3 million receipts had been handed to a private contractor "in good faith" and an inquiry had been launched to find out what had happened.
  • What sort of private contactor would be involved in dealing with these receipts that are government (public) business? Or is the government a private affair? The number of receipts involved amounts to over 2000 for every MP. The time taken to acquire, keep and file all these receipts must leave little for the "main job" or "second job".
  • Some MPs like to continually remind everyone that what they do is all (allegedly) within the rules. Whether bending, stretching or expanding these rules happens they appear to resist breaking. Very robust.
MPs are allowed to claim a maximum additional cost allowance (ACA) of £23,083 for staying overnight away from their main home. The rules published in the public domain fail to clarify if staying away for one night amounts to a claim of £23,083 or possibly up to a maximum of £23,083. A serious oversight that could define a potentially very expensive night.
  • The Additional Costs Allowance (cost of staying away from main home/ACA) is paid to reimburse Members for necessary costs incurred when staying overnight away from their main home for the purpose of performing parliamentary duties. Inner London Members do not receive this allowance.
MPs can claim for running offices and staffing costs.
  • The Incidental Expenses Provision (IEP) can be used to meet the cost of accommodation for office or surgery use; equipment and supplies for office or surgery; work commissioned or other services; and certain travel and communications. The Staffing Allowance is paid to enable Members to employ staff. Staff salaries are paid directly to staff by the House of Commons Department of Resources. The IEP can also be used to cover certain staff related costs
  • Members are permitted to transfer funds from the IEP to the Staffing Allowance. In addition, up to 10% of their Staffing Allowance can be transferred to the IEP provided they run a constituency office.
  • Members are also allowed to carry forward unused funds in the IEP and Staffing Allowance from one allowance year to the next or to draw down an advance from the next year’s budget. In both cases the Member’s allowance limit will be increased or decreased accordingly. The carry forward/draw down facility is only permitted for specific purposes and requires prior approval by the Department of Resources.
  • 2007/08 IEP maximum of £21,339 (most recent published data)
  • Staffing costs of up to £111,844 is payable and up to £7000 on stationary and a £10,000 communications allowance.
This page has disappeared:

'We were told: Go and spend it, boys,' says MP who claimed £310,000 for ...

... a full enquiry into MPs' expenses as the Labour politician with the highest expenses claim of any London MP denied ... say an MP's main home is where they ...
Purely contemptible, but does make Fred "The Shred" Goodwin appear simply like an angel (from Hell). Jacqui Smith (legal spouse of Richard Timney) is being investigated because of complaints about her decision to designate her sister's house in south London, where she stays, as her "main home", allowing her to claim back the costs of running her family house in her Redditch constituency as the second home and all within the very flexible rules. Apparently.

Her overall expenses claim, including travel, office and staffing costs, was £157,631.

That sum included 25 journeys for her husband, Richard Timney, at a cost to the public purse of £2,531, who is employed as her Parliamentary assistant at £40,000 a year. The rules allow for up to 24 taxpayer-funded single journeys from Westminster to the constituency. But since the spouse can get 30 it implies that the employee-spouse can enjoy up to 54 trips. It appears that not only is Timney paid this salary, but Smith additionally claimed the travel expense of over £2,531. The time taken for the annual performance review would be interesting to know or if such an event actually happens. If the husband can send such missives as Timney allegedly sent Redditch Advertiser in Worcestershire, then it is most likely a fantastic review is obligatory. A score of 11 out of 10 for doing... what?

The number of receipts (1,300,000) that should be checked are probably just rubber-stamped by a bureaucrat or two or three. It's virtually impossible to imagine that each is carefully verified and approved/not approved. Just nod them all through. The sitting of parliament is around 34-35 weeks and that only 5 days in a week. This represents: 175 days. Doubtless though, these dedicated people so full of integrity and probity (complete and confirmed integrity) are claiming expenses 365 days in every year. The minimum rate of claims is a minimum of 5 daily, but probably much higher.
  • This government is preparing (or has prepared) to unveil a crackdown on the sex trade that is expected to criminalise most people who use prostitutes. The cement in the pond where Smith sees excitable life begins to harden. It appears to be rather easy to be a hypocrite.
Quality Goes Deep It's a fascinating exercise to attempt to imagine what work gets done in any of the 175 days in Westminster that exclude travel to and from the Commons especially if the second (or main) residence is in London. Work that attracts expenses. Maybe drinks, meals and entertainment allowances? Inner London does not have any ACA attached, so a short journey from outside Inner London would receive this allowance. What type of MP would actually live in Inner London? By definition, constituencies are outside the boundary of Inner London.