Friday, June 06, 2008

MEP Expenses: Ignorance is no Defence

I despair. When will people learn that ignorance is never a defence in a court of law? Nor can it be in the issue of parliamentary expenses. If you are an MP or an MEP surely to God it is up to you to establish what the rules are and that you are complying with them. Simply bleating that you never received a response to an inquiry is a ridiculous defence. Yet this is exactly what Tory MEP John Purvis is saying. Guido has the story HERE.

32 comments:

Madasafish said...

Too right.

In any organisation I worked in, any expense claim not in accordance with the rules was rejected. And claims were randomly audited.
Rlagrant breaches were gross miscnduct and immediate dismissal...


I assumed that MPs/MEPS were honest and hard working: Now I know many are basically dishonest money grubbing lazy lying thieves..

A few 10 year jail sentences would not go amiss.. I can but dream.

It would be nice if they showed genuine remorse by giving it all back voluntarily (plus interest) but I shall go and lie down...

GeoffH said...

I, too, despair.

There's a strong case to be made that the Tories lost in'97 because of the cupidity of some of the MPs. Hamilton et al.

What really riles me is that they really didn't pay a price for their failings. But, we ordinary Conservative voters did; having to suffer an incompetent and pocket-picking Labour government for 11 or more years while they continued to enjoy the fruits of TV appearances and their memoirs.

Anonymous said...

What purpose do most Conservative MEPs serve?

Anonymous said...

Guido Hawkes' own exposition of the rules for MEPs shows they are quite unclear and do not prohibit the paying of family interests out of a company which receives an MEP's expense contributions. The quaestor does need to clarify its rules.

Please wake up at the back.

Anonymous said...

As a lifelong tory I despair. I could, just about, put up with Dave's lack of conviction politics, but I feel I'm supporting a party of sleazy, on the make, talentless wankers.

I realise now that I joined Thatcher's party, not the self serving institution I now feel embarrased by.

Screw the tories until they rediscover conviction born of real world failings.

johnny fiddler said...

This is the excellent Tory principle of ignorant until proven guilty.

oink said...

Oh dear, oh dear, looks like the Tory MEPs should hang their heads in shame.

Their snouts have been right in the trough.

Who'd'a thunk it.

Dave must be fairly pissed off, actually.

Newmania said...

Ahem Iain if you do not remove that silly noise that your site makes it is going to be somewhat difficult for me to look in at work.

Its an utterly horrible idea and I do beg that you stop it .

Pheeeeew dunk. I do not need

bj said...

I hope the party chairman takes some decisive action!

GeoffH said...

Anon @19:46

It's all too easy to fall into this trap. All it does is give Labour a free ride.

It's cutting off one's nose to spite one's face.

It's not as if all Labour MPS and MEPs where pure as the driven snow.

Led from the top by a PM who used his tax-free allowances to start his property 'empire'. Bad as some individual Tories may have been, the country deserves better than this grubby Labour government.

Anonymous said...

It's difficult when you're leader of the opposition to demonstrate that you have what it takes to be a good PM.

Apart from talking the talk there are limited opportunities to actually walking the walk.

The few opportunities usually involve demonstrating you can influence your own organization.

Tony did this successfully transforming the unelectable Labour Party to be the "New Labour Party".

Dave needs to grasp this opportunity to show he has what it takes with a steely "Thatcher like" determination to root out sleeze from the party.

He needs to turn the problem into an opportunity and demonstrate to the public there is much more to him than a smooth PR operator.

Euroband said...

It sounds as Spelman may be in trouble soon too
http://orangebyname.blogspot.com/2008/06/caroline-spelman-in-expenses-trouble.html

Gallimaufry said...

Has an MP or MEP ever said "I didn't know I could claim for that so I paid for it myself"? The first thing our beloved lawmakers read is the travel and subsistence code.

trevorsden said...

Newsnight are currently doing their best to 'get' Caroline Spelman ... picking on events between 1997-98, would you believe, when she was running her constituency office from her home. Claiming conflict between secretarial work and 'nannying work.

Seems pretty small beer to me and a long time ago and brief at that. Its a neat insight into the BBC mind. 'Balance don't ya know?'

Anonymous said...

caroline spellman..isn't she supposed to be an economics expert??

She will have to go.

Cameron will have to sack the lot to prove he is totally in charge.
Otherwise torysleeze will knock back their ratings to below labour!!!

Paul Pinfield said...

Looks like the Tories are in for a kicking this weekend. Caroline Spelman is admitting to paying her nanny from parliamentary expenses.

wrinkled weasel said...

I have maybe mentioned it before but I once worked for a central government department where I was required to take black cabs everywhere. No receipts were asked for or submitted. I simply wrote on the form what I had spent on taxis and received it back sometime later.

Not once did I cheat on this arrangement - I simply got back what I had spent.

It's called "honesty".

I did not get my mum to drive me and charge for a genuine black cab, I did not start my own cab company and use that and I did not pay my nanny for driving my kids around and I did not go on the bus and charge for a cab.

Had I done any of the above I would have considered I was thieving from the taxpayer.

Have I missed something here or are all politicians thieving bastards?

tapestry said...

I have no sympathy with apparently corrupt Conservative MEPs. Due to the weakness of the Cameron regime, democratic process is being avoided in their re-election. It seems quite fitting that a witch hunt should follow.

Those like Gordon Brown who avoid elections, deserve exactly what they get. Cameron should watch his back.

There is one standard and one standard only that has to be observed if Cameron hopes to keep his face - and that is democracy. He cannot be an out and out democrat in Britain, and a supporter of anti-democracy in Brussels. He should make up his mind what kind of politician he is, or be seen as part of the problem.

David Cameron, are you a democrat or a fixer? If a democrat, all MEPs should be subject to open democratic selection and election.

You've pushed this issue into the long grass for three years now. If you keep doing it, your credibility will be gone. It's time you declared your hand. Democrat in reality in all situations, or only when it suits you?

If I was you I would throw open the selection of all Conservative MEPs to the marketplace as of now.

Any Labour supporters reading this must surely see the opportunity to dump Brown and elect the Eurosceptics such as Gisela Stuart. She could rip Cameron's dithering over Europe into shreds. Europe is Cameron's Achilles heel.

Johnny Norfolk said...

They should be sacked with Spellman.

andy kirkham said...

What annoys me is that all these MEPs will if they wish to stand again for the EU Parliament are automatic shoo-ins since they will head the list for their regions.
Frankly they should be expelled from the Party and new blood should replace them.

Anonymous said...

Love the way Iain does a U turn.
Maggie would be dissapointed!!!

Anonymous said...

Everyone in business knows that saying "I didn't know the rules" won't do you any good on your VAT, PAYE, Corp Tax etc that are imposed on us by politicians, so how dare those politicians ask us to accept it as an excuse over abuse of expense allowances. GGRRRRRRR

Anonymous said...

wrinkled weasel said...

"I did not get my mum to drive me and charge for a genuine black cab, I did not start my own cab company and use that and I did not pay my nanny for driving my kids around and I did not go on the bus and charge for a cab."

Sucker.

Scipio said...

There is a possibility that Dover may not have broken the rules. But all this says is just how stupid the rules are!

MEP's expenses are just insane, the amounts available so large, the regulatory system so lax, and system so easy to fiddle, you would need to be Mother Teressa not to be tempted.

It is outrageous, and should be stopped.

1. Everything claimed only after a receipt is produced
2. No employing family members or companies in which you are enjoying a financial interest
3. slash the amounts available. Why does an MEP need 6 - yes 6 - assistants!

jafo said...

As you say, weasel, it's called honesty. I've never heard an MP say "I only claimed what I spent" - but there's lots of "it's in the rules".........never mentioning they wrote those rules themselves and they seem to be so loosely written anything can - and clearly is - claimed for.

What I find so incredibly irritating about all this is these people's sense of entitlement - where did that come from? They are very handsomely paid, pension provision is fantastic, their legitimate perks are incredible - and STILL they have to pad out those claims. There is just no end to greed, it seems.

Iain Dale said...

Anonymous 8.37, er how have I done a U turn exactly?!

Chris Paul said...

CAUGHT REPORTS: With Chichester and Dover in the dock the tide's going out for Tories in Coastal Towns.

Chris Paul said...

PS You've done a U-turn Iain by yesterday saying innocent until proven guilty and today seeing how the wind's blowing and going gung ho.

The Remittance Man said...

Anon@7:27

The rules may be vague, possibly deliberately so, but it doesn't take someone with the brains of Einstein or the moral outlook of a saint to know that something, while strictly legal, is wrong.

Even if these MEPs have the brains of a stick insect and the morals of a dockside whore, you'd have thought that being in a business that is so dependent on public opinion they would have realised that what they were doing would disgust the electorate. That they couldn't see this proves that they are unfit to be in elected office.

Whether it's for being corrupt or monumentally stupid, they deserve naming, shaming and dismissal in ignominy regardless of their so-called party allegiance. Quite frankly they have demonstrated that they have no allegiance other than their own self-interest.

As to those of the left who are enjoying the fact it's Tories in the spotlight; perhaps they would do well to remember the likes of Peter Hain, Wee Wendy et al. Then they should remember how their party disgracefully moved mountains trying to defend them. In a perverse way Tories should be grateful some of their own have been exposed. Cameron now has a once in a career opportunity to demonstrate the Tories are different. The next few days should be enough to see whether he's really in touch with the electorate or just another machine politician on the make.

Daniel said...

Funny, when it was Peter Hain - he had to go straight away according to the Tories - and he hadn't been fraudulently claiming money for his own use - he was just stupid - this one's benefited personally from MY TAXES!!

For Osborne to come out and say she is a "woman of integrity" beggars belief - no she isn't - she's as damn greedy as the rest; if the Chief Whip hadn't stepped in, she'd probably still be at it now.

It's quite clear that Spelman put this woman on the payroll for 30 hrs per week as a Nanny; she answers a few calls at home and takes a few messages and bingo: Let's put it ALL on the Taxpayer. Mendacious is the word I'd use. Or venal - take your pick.

This is so blatantly fraudulent as to be untrue - within weeks of getting in the House she is ripping off the public. What a fine example to us all.

There should be a chorus of "clean" Tories telling her to go, since it doesn't seem that long since Dave gave his "fiddle your expenses speech" does it?

I really want to vote Tory in 2010 - but what with this and the MEP fiasco - it looks increasingly unlikely - I am so sick to the back teeth of these lying scumbags stealing MY money.

Casual Observer said...

The trouble is the rules don't necessarily make it right.

The way to make it right is to change the rules in harmony with what goes on in the real world in relation to Joe Voter's expenses claims. Corporate governance, HMRC rules, etc., etc.

This could be sorted in 24 hours flat if they could ever get their snouts out of the trough for long enough...

Daniel said...

From Casual Observer @ 4.57pm

This could be sorted in 24 hours flat if they could ever get their snouts out of the trough for long enough...

Quite. This is the tip of the iceberg I suspect, hence Lab and Lib MPs not making too much noise about it in today's MSM coverage.


You only have to look at sundry expenses to see how bent the whole system is.

I haven't yet worked for an organisation where, when I was spending their money, I didn't have to account for every single penny. Not £250 daily petty cash limit. Not £50 daily petty cash limit - every single last penny. Why do they get amounts to claim where they don't have to submit a receipt. That encourages largesse and no mistake.

Every single penny I spent had to have the receipt to prove the expenditure - and that expenditure had to be authorised by my Line Managers.

There are no circumstances I can see where a receipt cannot be provided by the MP - unless of course, £25 worth of expenses suddenly becomes £45 when they are about to claim it back.

No fiddling of expenses, timesheets, overtime, hospitality budgets, subsistance allowances - not because I probably couldn't have got away with it - but because it would never even have crossed my mind to do so.

These tossers see the public teat hanging out - and the first question they ask is how long can I suckle?

And then they wonder why the public loathe them all so very much. QED.