Sunday, March 22, 2009

Now Is the Time to Reform MPs' Second Home Rules

The Mail on Sunday's story about Tony McNulty's second home is surely proof positive that the whole system needs overhauling. Forgive me if I don't join the lynch mob who are braying at him today - us West Ham season ticket holders stick together!

Tony has complied with the rules and so far as I can see hasn't broken any, but therein lies the problem. A system which allows an MP to claim for a second home which is located a mere 8 miles from his main home is surely open to ridicule and disdain. McNulty suggests that any MP who lives within 60 miles of London should not be able to claim for a second home. I'm not sure about that particular criteria, but the sentiment is right.

Gone are the days of the all night sitting. MPs now have roughly the same working hours on most nights of the week as much of the rest of the population. Why then, shouldn't those who live within spitting distance of London commute in the same way as their constituents have to? Over the last three weeks, these are the times the House of Commons has stopped sitting

Thur 19 - 4.43pm
Wed 18 - 7.57pm
Tue 17 - 10.26pm
Mon 16 - 10.05pm

Thur 12 - 6.33pm
Wed 11 - 7.51pm
Tue 10 - 10.42pm
Mon 9 - 10.38pm

Thur 5 - 6.31pm
Wed 4 - 7.47pm
Tue 3 - 9.24pm
Mon 2 - 10.24pm

On many of these days there was no vote, so most MPs could have left the House way before the time it stopped sitting. And one line whips seem to be in vogue at the moment too, meaning that some MPs are only in Westminster for two days a week at the moment. I know of one Conservative MP who claims nothing for a second home allowance and goes home to a constituency way outside London each night, late vote or no late vote.

One also has to wonder how on earth members of the House of Lords manage. They finish at similar times yet none of Their Lordships get a second home allowance, although they are entitled to claim expenses.

My solution for this is simple. Abolish any form of second home allowance for MPs whose constituency home is less than a certain mileage from Westminster, but give those who live outside Greater London a hotel allowance for use on a maximum of two nights a week if the House sits after 10pm. It's simple, transparent and defensible.

If the Commons authorities fail to deal with this issue we can look forward to a weekly dose of stories which bring MPs into disrepute. Yes, they often bring themselved into disrepute, but they don't need any help from a system which is open to abuse and misinterpretation.

UPDATE: Greg Hands MP has just issued the following statement...

The Minister can’t seem to get his story straight. He admits that the arrangement looks odd and that he stopped it in January, but won’t repay the £60,000 he took from taxpayers to fund it. He says that he uses the house for constituency work but his office is just round the corner. Now he says that MPs in the South East shouldn’t be claiming housing allowances when he voted against a similar proposal less than a year ago. Once again, the position of one of Gordon Brown’s Ministers looks indefensible. It clearly needs to be investigated.

63 comments:

seebag said...

Forgive me if I don't join the lynch mob who are braying at him today - us West Ham season ticket holders stick together!
If you can't separate those two things I'm going to have to consider discontinuing reading you, for the sake of my blood pressure

John Moss said...

I think we need to be clear as well about the MPs job.

It is in Westminster, representing their constituents in Parliament and working on select committees and, even, for their parties on policy.

Their job "in the constituency" is secondary to this, though important.

I would actually make this explicit by paying a salary commensurate with living in London and an allowance for an office in the constituency, plus rent - and only rent - on a 1 bed flat, for those MPs more than 1 hour travel time from Westminster tube station.

Iain Dale said...

Seebag, it was meant as a joke. But I do realise that humour is often lost on some people.

an ex-apprentice said...

It is a fact of life that no matter how tightly you try to frame rules and regulations, someone who is so minded will get around them.

Arguably, rules governing the conduct of MP's should not need to be tightly drafted - these are, after all, our elected representatives, the people who actually pass the laws that apply to all of us; the spirit of the law together with their inherent integrity and honesty should be sufficient.

The fact that anybody reading that last sentence is now killing themselves laughing is a measure of how degraded our politics has become, and just how contemptible many of its practitioners are.

McNutter is one of those whose idea of truth is anything you can't prove beyond all doubt to be a lie. Nobody believes for one minute his impromptu excuses or his "I've just decided, just before you exposed me, to stop robbing the taxpayer blind".

Never mind the rulebook, or the fine print, or which f***ing football team he supports, in the real world the man is a disgrace, a fraudster, an embezzler and a thief.

He should be removed from Parliament, which he shames by his presence, and imprisoned. His offence is not lessened by his position, but made immeasurably greater. Instead, nothing will happen, move along, nothing to see here, and they wonder why we despise them so.

DespairingLiberal said...

I presume there will be a steady drip-drip of these to come, each time the press "investigators" have a dull news day - presumably it isn't all that difficult to find out who is on the fiddle.

Strange though that we haven't yet had any revelations of Tory MPs up to the same fiddle - I assume this is because they are all cleaner than clean. Perish the thought that it would be anything to do with the intrinsic right-wing bias across most of the printed press, which strangely never gets a mention when the, er, lefties who er run the hmmm media are slagged off routinely in this and other right-wing auto-moron blogs.

JuliaM said...

"...the intrinsic right-wing bias across most of the printed press.."

You believe in fairies and unicorns too?

Twig said...

It's one thing to have such a lax expenses and benefits system, but quite another to exempt them from the tax rules that apply to everyone else re P11Ds etc.

davidc said...

"There are senior shadow frontbench figures who live five miles further away from Westminster than me who claim the lot."

and anyway the big boys made me do it !

Plenty said...

Can we talk about MPs pensions? Is it possible that the wealth created in the private sector is funding the public sector pesnion pot? It's ridiculous that MPs have the audacity to pontificate to the masses when they are creaming off and creating their own set of rules. Until someone is brave enough to step to the fray and change or propose an complete overhaul in the system, things will trundle along as they are. MPs find it convenient to slam the bankers, but not convenient to talk about their own inflated pension pots.

pete-s said...

My Labour MP is hardly ever in the chamber. He only attends the chamber when subjects close to subject of his private consultancy arise.

trevorsden said...

I think the joke Mr Dale is a poor one.

This bloke has lost all moral authority to govern us.

Its his parents home for Gods sake! This is criminal.

He is the joke.

Iain Dale said...

But that was my point. Under the rules it is not criminal. It is allowable. That's why the rules need to be changed.

Martin said...

Iain. The problem is a pig doesn't think it smells. They don't care because they don't think they are doing anything wrong.

jon dee said...

Your becoming an apologist for Tony McNulty after your admirable stance on Jacqui Smith is surprising.

Both are ripping the taxpayer off and have been exposed. McNulty has no excuse for his fiddling.

davidc said...

'no rules have been broken,lessons will be learned, nothing to see, move along,'

any more cliches to try and justify the latest example of snout in trough ?

Iain Dale said...

Jon Dee with respect, that is bollocks. Jacqui Smith, IMHO, was way outside the rules. I'm afraid, McNulty is a different case. He is within the rules, but the rules stink. I am not an apologist for anyone. I can't see how you can infer that.

John M Ward said...

Iain, you are correct. A corrupt (or otherwise unacceptable) rule doesn't mean that those who hide behind it are therefore "clean". I am sure that the former USSR operated in much the same way, but that didn't mean their bureaucrats and rulers were behaving properly.

As for "DespairingLiberal", eager as always to make a party political point rather than facing the issue itself: yes, there are always individuals in any party who will behave badly, and they have been covered here and elsewhere when they have come to light. They are all human, and humans are fallible.

It is when it becomes institutionalised that one can start point party political fingers,; and that certainly isn't something one can sensibly do with the Conservatives, for all their faults.

If Despairing Liberals really can't cope with this blogsite without incessant whingeing and moaning (as this contributor does) perhaps — as Data suggested to the Romulan in the Start Trek Next Generation episode "Unification" — that individual would be happier doing something else instead of hanging around here.

DespairingLiberal said...

John M W - actually, in the former Soviet Union (you called it the USSR - that name ceased to be official quite some time before the Union fell over) the inner circles of central committee, politburo and their nomenclatura who acted corruptly were actually breaking the laws. The SU did have laws banning such things as well as a formal code of human rights - it's just that the top dogs, protected by equally illegal actions on the part of their KGB guard dogs, systematically broke them.

Shame that you think only Tories should post here though - is that because, as shown above, there is a danger that we expose your ignorance?

Plato said...

Oh dear Mr McNulty - what a very thin reason for using our taxes to pay for your parents' house.

I notice that he decided on pending exposure to a) stop b) hasn't told anyone though and c)decided to be more careful with taxpayers money because he 'can do without it'.

At what point will this stop? Perhaps we should just make a big list of every SoS and MoS and cross them off one by one each Sunday between now and the next GE as they clearly have nothing to lose except their seat.

subrosa said...

'stories which bring MPs into disrepute.'

You omitted the word further there Iain. Honestly I didn't think MPs could slide further but it seems the food trough never empties.

The whole MP job spec needs rewritten plus of course the rules of Westminster regarding the spending of taxpayers money.

At least Scottish MSPs are obliged to publish all their expenses right down to the odd pint of milk. The Scottish parliament system isn't great but it's a much more transparent sytem.

Chris Paul said...

We are getting a weekly dose of this. Thanks to Norman Baker and the Mail. Who are choosing to mostly "do" Labour MPs over this almost universally taken opportunity.

It is so not a story any more.

Obviously the rules should be changed - IMO to increase the salary and sack such allowances altogether - but let's have parliament on tour!!! With the relevant living-out-of-a-suitcase expenses to support that.

I'm more vexed by Lib Dems like Paul Rowen who campaigned for openness but won't go open book:

http://tinyurl.com/chrispaulLOL40

His office people mostly seem to do dirty party politics not constituency work. His office is kinda shared with the local Lib Dem party with contrived rents and even donations in from the ultimate landlord. The rent paid (to the party) sky-rocketed.

And his people are planting letters in the local papers saying he can have as much snout in the trough as he wants because he is a god.

Chris Paul said...

PS This one seems worse than Smith to be honest. You should er Hammer him.

Simon Gardner said...

Two points:

• Unlike the braying mob (it seems), I don’t think MPs are paid terribly well for the job they do. Better to abolish most of their allowances and pay them far better. The allowances have been used as a creeping covert way of paying them better.

• MPs are ridiculously under resourced as far as staffing goes and the jobs of servicing constituents AND holding the executive to account.


Compare US House of Representatives
Each Member is alloted $748,312 to hire up to 18 staff and four additional temporary, part-time, of shared staff. Staff can not be paid more than $151,974 per year. Plus other expenses.

US Senate
Allowances are: administrative and clerical assistance, legislative assistance, and official office expenses. In 2003 the total amount of all three allowances provided to Senators ranged from $2,264,345 to $3,751,995.
Administrative and clerical: This allowance is allocated based on the size of the Senator's state. The amount varies from $1,685,301 for a state with a population less than 5 million to $2,833,718 for a state with a population topping 28 million.

Iain Dale said...

I never thought I would ever agree with Simon, but wonders can happen.

Simon Gardner said...

Iain Dale said... “I never thought I would ever agree with Simon, but wonders can happen.”

Come, come. We have far more in common than you do with the various “unrepresentative” nutters - no names, no pack drill.

jon dee said...

Forgive my perception of your piece but we differ.

Despite being technically within the rules, a common refrain from some MPs, it nevertheless has an opportunist smell about it.

If McNulty's observations in the MOS are correct his reference to the "Nuremberg defence" exposes a guilty conscience.

Possibly our interpretation of "fiddling" may vary in this case.

DespairingLiberal said...

I can't help noticing Simon that US Senators and Congresspeople do not seem wholly immune to corruption. However, perhaps it would be even worse if they weren't paid so well!

One of the funniest things ever shown in the cinema - Michael Moore's attempts to get members of Congress to agree to sign their spoiled kids up for military service.

In all seriousness though, do we really need MPs to be even more of a remote aristocratic class separated from reality?

Surely the point here, as Baker quite rightly pursues, is that vigilance is required to castigate and if possible remove our elected representatives if they are clearly just in it for the cash, or at least, where that seems to be a major motive.

There never seems to be any shortage of people desperate to be in the Haise, or, as with Iain, people who wish they were and therefore act as apologists for their many transgressions. It can't all just be about the nice green leather. Presumably the gravy train is already well padded enough to attract many a good heart.

Conand said...

I also agree with Simon Gardner's first point @ 12:32 PM
I'm not at all convinced of the need for legions of staffers though.

In regards to Tony McNulty I can only assume he is taking extremely strong drugs. He has been caught on the fiddle and now he proposes a fairly draconian 60 mile exclusion zone! There will never be enough swear words to cover that fully.

I'm glad our Iain can make light of it. By the way Iain, I was amused by your saying to YAB, 'There are other reasons I don't have kids' on BBC News. She really is on another planet I fear.

an ex-apprentice said...

Dear Mr? Gardner,

"Unlike the braying mob (it seems), I don’t think MPs are paid terribly well for the job they do. Better to abolish most of their allowances and pay them far better. The allowances have been used as a creeping covert way of paying them better."

The arguments about MP's pay have been well rehearsed and should hardly need repeating here. But, for you, I'll make an exception.

They know what the going rate is before they stand. If you don't like it, don't stand.

There is no shortage of people wanting to become MP's etc.

I would venture that at least 90% of those currently occupying the green benches would not have a hope of achieving even a fraction of their parliamentary remuneration out in the real world.

As to your implication that fiddling expenses, aka thieving, is somehow excusable because salaries are too low, as usual you're talking complete bollocks. McNutter and his Missus take around £330,000 from the taxpayer. Not content with that sum, beyond the dreams of most people, McNutter, in his greed and avarice, just can't help himself, and has to steal more.

These thieving, larcenous cretins, on any system of payment-by-results, would end up owing US more than they could possibly earn by honest toil in a thousand lifetimes.

http://www.cctvstar.blogspot.com said...

What a lying, troughing scumbag. I sent him an email telling him what I think of him.

The Cult of The Cowardly Ego: The Foreign Office Hides Critical Report

Simon Gardner said...

Hmm. Well it’s absolutely true that you don’t NEED to pay MPs more in the sense that the simple market fact is that there are always way more people queuing up for the job than vacancies - by a few orders of magnitude.

Time was when MPs weren’t paid at all and had perforce to be independently wealthy.

I remain absolutely firm about the abysmal staffing levels. This more than anything stops MPs doing the job properly - even though they have many unpaid (often these days American) interns.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Small stuff. Yet another Muslim with Government connections has escaped justice:

http://wrinkledweasel.blogspot.com/2009/03/islam-conspiracy.html

DespairingLiberal said...

ex-appie - Simon and Iain are taking the traditional line of people who hope to curry favour with Sitting Members (with the emphasis on "sitting") by praising their attempts to feather-bed themselves.

Mind you, they are not particularly worse than the other significant classes of people we have parasitically feeding off the rest of us, such as barristers, accountancies, public sector consultants, etc.

Strange how common it is that those who produce the wealth get to enjoy so little of it compared to those who merely discuss it.

Iain Dale said...

Despairing Liberal, I am seeking to curry favour with no one. If I wanted to curry favour I would probably stop writing this blog.

Oldrightie said...

Now look here, there is every chance they will be out of office soon. They are desperate to salt away sufficient millions to continue in the luxury we pay them to live.

pete-s said...

Read the book "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy" if you want to copy the American model and think large salaries cure the problems of snouts in the trough.

Dual Citizen said...

Iain, you hit the nail on the head.

Two points:

1) If Mr. McNulty accepts the system by which he benefitted is wrong, then he would have far more credibility if he repaid some of his past gains, or made a substantial contribution to charity. Same applies to others (including many Tories).

2) The "solution" is to make parliamtary expenses in line with private sector companies; ie. "no personal gain" and "actual expenses incurred", even if in some cases it means a higher expenditure.

The 60 mile rule sounds very reasonable to me. For those MPs and ministers who need to stay in London, it should mean they either expense (with full receipts in line with clear rules) the actual costs for overnight stays, or be subject to a set "per diem" to cover their costs.

I just returned from a business trip to India, where I was put up in lavish 5 star hotels; within my company's rules! Could I have stayed in cheaper ones? Having been there now and had personal experience, the answer is clearly yes, and I will cut my costs accordingly next time. In many respects it will turn out more conveneient for me as well as benefit my company.

Windsor Tripehound said...

Iain Dale said...

... McNulty is a different case. He is within the rules ...


Sod the rules. If McNulty lacks the common sense to realise that what he was doing was wrong, he isn't fit to be an MP.

Sorry for being an old-fashioned Tory, but I believe that at the heart of Conservatism is the belief that there are absolute standards of right and wrong.

To give the moral relativists a stick to beat me with, I'm a member of the Church of England and (unusually for an Anglican) I also believe in God.

Now you can tell me why I'm wrong and McNulty's right.

Simon Gardner said...

“If I wanted to curry favour I would probably stop writing this blog.”

Quite. And I haven’t been active in politics for over three years and don’t expect to be. I have no favours to curry. My only precaution is not to identify (with two exceptions - Ken & Kerry) anyone I have worked with/for - which is only fair and polite to them. It allows me to use my real name - which I prefer.

Mike Law said...

Iain,

Maybe you cannot see it, but you do come over strongly as an apologist for McNulty.

I think there is a deeper-rooted loyalty between West Ham supporters from the political arena than most people are aware of.

Two other Labour politicos who support West Ham Jim Fitzpatrick and Sir Robin Wales (mayor of Newham).

Wales should be a major Conservative target because as well as being the leader of a flagship Labour borough, he has made so many gaffs that it's almost comical (Parks Constabulary; purchasing Building 1000 for £111,500,000.00 at the start of the current economic down-turn; paying 50% of Labour councillors "special" allowances as advisors when legislation only allows for a maximum of 9 cabinet members; having his best pals -who are also councillors- on a salary in excess of £40,000.00 each, etc, etc).

Yep that West Ham bond runs deep; or is there another fraternal bond that I'm missing?

Hugh said...

I don't understand why you're not joining the lynch mob. If he reckons any MP who lives within 60 miles of London should not be able to claim for a second home but did so anyway then he's a total hypocrite. The fact that it's legal makes no difference: he admits it's wrong but neither apologises nor makes good by repaying the (our) money. Is it really succumbing to a lynch mob mentality to be a little outraged by that? Lynch mobs are driven by prejudice; being a bit bloody irritated that the public servants we pay to run the country appear to have no principals when it comes to ripping us off seems entirely reasonable to me. Or am I missing something?

Hugh said...

Despairing Liberal: "Perish the thought that it would be anything to do with the intrinsic right-wing bias across most of the printed press..."

Let's look at those nationals:

Guardian, Independent, Mirror - Left Wing.

Telegraph, Mail, Express - Right Wing

Times, Sun - whoever looks likely to win the next election.

No doubt you were complaining bitterly about the intrinsic left-wing bias when the Times and Sun still supported New Labour, then.

Mark Reckons said...

Sorry Iain but I totally disagree.

I think McNulty's attempt at spinning this shows he is either changing his position for purely politically expeditious reasons, or if he genuinely thought it was wrong claim for this previously then his moral judgement is severely compromised.

I have posted in more detail about this here: http://markreckons.blogspot.com/2009/03/mcnultys-spin-makes-it-worse.html

Mark Reckons said...

I meant I disagree with your reluctance to criticise him by the way!

Lola said...

In theory MPs are 'honourable members'. As they are granted exceptional power they are supposed to exhibit high standards of behaviour towards the affairs of the constituencies that elected them and the country at large. They have the power to make law.

Given that situation we would expect them to act 'honourably' in the discharge of their duties to us. McNulty (whom I have never liked and always thought of as seeming duplicitous - as has been proved) should have looked to himself and thought that taking the exepnses was clearly not the Right Thing.

More rules is just more regulation, and as I read somewhere else today 'regulation is the substitution of error for chance'. More rules will not make anyone less likely to cheat, it will make them more likely to do so. They must have less rules and told that they have to act responsibly. If their actions are considered irresponsible by the 'court of public opinion' (please note HH you old tart), then they will either be out on their ear or, if genuinely corrupt, up in front of the beak and into the slammer.

In general MP's should be better paid as regards salary but there should be minimal expenses and other support. They should seek funds from their parties and constituencies - all of which will be disclosed in detail - and if they are fortunate enough to be offered extra power by being invited to be a minister of the Crown they should get the expenses nessessary to discharge the job properly and to be able to seem entirely dignified in international company.

The trouble is blokes like McNulty have grown up in the corruption of the union system of reward and funding and also crave wealth and power. He is not to be trusted. He is dishonourable. Resignation is the proper course of action.

Simon Gardner said...

Times, Sun, Star - right wing.
S Tel, MoS. NotW, People - right vwing.

Martin Day said...

The neigbouring MP and minister is Gareth Thomas. I thought this additional costs allowances was about second homes - why would an MP from Harrow West need such a cost?

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/gareth_thomas/harrow_west#expenses

Victor, NW Kent said...

West Ham also seem to be serial offenders against the rules.

Hugh said...

Simon Gardner, you can call the Times and Sun right wing but until recently they both supported New Labour, as they did in the last three elections. So did the FT, I think. As did the People and News of the World, in fact. And since we're including the Sundays, let's also add the Observer, Sunday Mirror and Independent on Sunday.
All in all, if there's an intrinsic bias in favour of the Tories it's a pretty new thing.

titus-aduxas said...

Sorry, but I don't agree that he hasn't broken any rules.
Green Book:

3.2.1. Eligibility
You can claim ACA if:
a You have stayed overnight in the UK away from your only or main home, and
b This was for the purpose of performing your Parliamentary duties, and
c You have necessarily incurred additional costs in so doing

**McNulty admits to not having stayed overnight and, as it is his parent's house, I doubt that he has incurred any costs.

3.3.1. Principles
You must ensure that arrangements for your ACA claims are above reproach and that there can be no
grounds for a suggestion of misuse of public money.

**McNulty patently fails this test.

Members should bear in mind the need to obtain value for money from accommodation

**By running two homes, so close to one another, McNulty patently fails this test.
**Going back to the previous paragraph (3.2.1), the last sentence reads "If you represent an outer London constituency you
can choose between receiving the London supplement and ACA."
His arrangement would have offered better value for money had he chosen the London supplement - he, therefore, fails this test also.

3.3.2.
You must avoid any arrangement which may give rise to an accusation that you are, or someone close to you is, obtaining an immediate benefit or subsidy from public funds

**McNulty patently fails this test. Either his family and/or his parents are benefitting.

3.3.3.
ACA must not be used to meet the costs of a mortgage or for leasing accommodation from:
 yourself;
 a close business associate or any organisation or company in which you - or a partner or family
member - have an interest; or
 a partner or family member.

**McNulty patently fails this test, if he has paid anything to his parents.

Constituency
For the purpose of the ACA, overnight stays within 20 miles of your constituency boundary are regarded as overnight stays within your constituency.

**As his London home is only 8 miles from his constituency, staying overnight in his home is regarded as having stayed in his constituency.

**He is not, therefore, entitled to a second home, under this rule.


McNullty has, in my opinion, defrauded the British taxpayer, just as Jackboots Smiff as.

Simon Gardner said...

Hugh said... “Simon Gardner, you can call the Times and Sun right wing...”

Yup. They are.

“...but until recently they both supported New Labour.”

I’m sorry. You seem to be confirming my point.

Plato said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Plato said...

Excluding MPs that live outside a 60 mile exclusion zone is a stupid idea.

Distance by the crow-fly means nothing, ditto by road if you're trapped in school run traffic.

Second homes allowance is ripe for abuse as it shows.

Give MPs a statutory hotel allowance for overnight stays when voting requires them to be in the House late in the day.

Problem solved - clear evidence of need to claim established and property speculation stopped.

Hey Presto!

Unsworth said...

Some here, and many in Parliament, seem to believe that these 'rules' are all encompassing - covering every aspect of morality, honour, integrity, decency and probity.

McNulty is not the first MP - nor will he be the last - to declare that it is only necessary to abide by a set of 'rules' drawn up by a self-interested group - him, his predecessors and their various collaborators. So, here we have a sworn Minister of State with no moral compass at all. Does he not understand the difference between legality and his personal integrity? Maybe so.

Are these standards what we should expect of those we send to Parliament to represent us and to ensure just and honourable legislation? Or is it the case that we - all of us - now operate on the basis of 'Devil take the hindmost'?

"Fear God and honour The Queen"? Clearly McNulty does neither.

Savonarola said...

FFS what type of rules do you need to inform MP's how to be moral.

McNulty is a thief. He knows it, we know it and he knows we know it.

He represents the new breed of professional politician whose first and last question is "Whats in it for me".

These low lifes see the cookie jar and grab all they can.

I don't care what the rules say. McNulty is a craven thief.

DespairingLiberal said...

Hugh - no, your argument supports my case. New Labour are not a leftwing organisation or movement - they are a slightly repackaged Thatcherite body of deregulators and "pro-business" stooges, the latter of course in practise meaning that they side with the very, very rich and not with small business people.

Small business people can also presumably find little succor with the Tories, who are primarily a Hedge-fund organisation now, with some small offshoot interests in tax havens and dodgy foreign capital.

DespairingLiberal said...

Iain - you come across in this piece as currying, almost to Madras levels, since to any reasonable average person, this particular MP's actions and public words stink to high heaven. I don't really think you are currying at more than Korma level, but I know you are a fighter and it would perhaps be more fun to have a go here, although I respect your intention to try to approach this topic in a logical fashion. The problem is that the rules do obviously suck, as you say, but not all MPs are presumably breaching them quite as brazenly.

Now can we move on to inheritance tax and the huge gulf between Ken Clarke and poor little Georgy Osborne, who is no longer even pretending to be in charge of policy in these matters?

tory boys never grow up said...

Surely what is needed is application of the "wholly, exclusively and necessarily" test that the HMRC applies to the expenses of everyone else in paid employment in the country. It isn't as although HMRC and accountants throughout the land do n't have quite a lot of experience in applying the test elsewhere. I very much doubt that there aren't already similar precedents for any of the special cases that MPs would no doubt argued applied to them - there are lots of other people out there who have to work in two locations. I'm sure than HMRC could second a few experienced practitioners to police such a regime.

Anyone who looks at the mail on Sunday article in detail - will see that McNulty is far from being the only offender.

Grumpy said...

They all sem to be at it to one degree or another.

It's quite appalling that the obvious and simple solution to this disgraceful milking of the taxpayer's purse isn't adopted straight away. In the meantime those charged with another of Gordon Brown's reviews wander about in the long grass...

Hugh said...

Despairing Liberal/ Simon Gardner: Please explain this to me: how does the fact that most of the papers have supported New Labour prove the argument (made by DS) that there's an intrinsic media bias in favour of the Tories which is stopping them going after the party's MPs for fiddling expenses?

Hairy Ricky said...

Iain, It's criminal what they can all claim. I live in the midlands but work in London (I work with Dizzy). I earn less than an MP but I have to pay for my dingy, grubby lodgings out of my net pay. No allowance for me, but I have to pay extortionate taxes for their second homes. Why a home and not just lodgingsor hotel. They're all a bunch of grabbing crooks wasting taxpayers money. Scrap the allowances now!

Rick

Hey said...

No politician should be paid nor should they get any expenses. You'll get a better class of politician, far less intrusion by the government since they simply can't be there, and no ability for a permanent political class of advisors, lobbyists, etc.

London is full of people commuting 2 hours + each way. Even the furthest reaches of Scotland are unbelievably close compared to what Australia, US, and Canada have to manage. 0 pay for the useless scum - hopefully there'll be less of them!

Flora said...

London MPs claiming Second Home allowance - Joan Ryan, who asserts that she lives in the Enfield North Constituency, Andy Love, proud to live in Edmonton, Rudi Vis, long time Finchley resident. Why do they need 2nd homes when they live less than an hour from Westminster?