Tag Archives: #MPexpenses

Jeremy Browne wins expenses appeal – acted “openly and honestly”

The BBC has the story of how Lib Dem MP Jeremy Browne has won his appeal against repaying £18,000 of expenses.

Taunton MP Jeremy Browne complained after auditor Sir Thomas Legg ruled he must repay the cash claimed for mortgage interest on his second home.

Sir Paul Kennedy, who was appointed to hear appeals, said he had acted “openly and honestly” when making his claim.

Mr Browne said he felt “relieved” and “vindicated”, but “not elated”.

He is the first of the 80 MPs who challenged Sir Thomas’s requests to repay money to make the results of his appeal public.

Labour’s Frank Cook, Frank

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Revisiting Jo Swinson and the Telegraph’s #mpexpenses stories

Remember the Telegraph’s hatchet job on Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson during their series of revelations about MPs’ expenses? (Lib Dem blogger James Graham has followed-up the issue on his own Quaequam Blog! HERE).

Well, on Monday evening, as billed here, I had the chance to put these points direct to the Daily Telegraph’s assistant editor, Andrew Pierce, at a debate posing the question, A triumph for journalism? (You can watch the debate online here – worth watching in full, but the section focusing on Jo starts about 29 minutes in).

The issues of dodgy …

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What Nick said to Gordon about political reform

At 12.30 pm today, Gordon Brown stood up in the House of Commons to make what was billed as a “wide-ranging statement on proposed changes to Britain’s constitution and voting system.” As so often, the feature didn’t match up to the trailer. Here’s Nick Clegg’s response, as recorded by Hansard, to Mr Brown’s statement:

Mr. Nick Clegg (Sheffield, Hallam) (LD): I thank the Prime Minister for his statement. Of course everyone agrees that the political crisis requires big changes in the way we do things, so I welcome this deathbed conversion to political reform from the man who has blocked

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Opinion: Losing at the Bridge Table

Losing at the Bridge Table

Politics is like tournament bridge. It’s not the quality of the cards you are dealt that matters. It’s how well you play the hand.

Cameron was dealt a rotten hand over expenses. His party is a bunch of upper class rotters milking the public purse. Cameron turned this to his own advantage. He summoned the rotters to his study and gave them all a good caning. He also effectively saw off the reform agenda in a cloud of grandiloquent promises. These amounted to a cast-iron commitment to think hard about …

Posted in Op-eds | 14 Comments

Open letter to Speaker Martin over #MPexpenses

Fifty-six Lib Dem PPCs have put their name to an open letter to the Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin:

Dear Mr Speaker, 

As Parliament continues to be dragged down by the allowance system, and its rules, the role of those in public service across the country is being undermined. 

We are Liberal Democrat candidates seeking to be elected to Parliament and yet we find ourselves disappointed, and frustrated, at the way in which this matter is being handled. Every day our residents are telling us loudly that this must stop and this must stop now. 

Three things stand out:

• The resistance

Posted in Online politics | 31 Comments

Cash for cushions: the wordcloud

You can now view details of MPs’ expenses as a wordcloud. The Open University’s Tony Hirst, who produced the Google Map of MPs’ travel expenses in April has created wordclouds based on the Guardian Datablog’s spreadsheet.

The more recherché items, such as moats and porticos, lack the prominence their studied refinement deserves, but the wordcloud is very telling:

mpexpenses-wordcloud
Charles Arthur writes in the Guardian:

Cleaning, food, interest, mortgage, payments, repairs… those are the sorts of things that this debate has been about so far: the more often a word appears

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James Purnell accused of abusing expenses rules

An ironic twist in the latest MP expenses story – this time is it James Purnell, the minister in charge of ensuring that the rest of us don’t claim too much in expenses, who is accused of claiming back more in rental costs than he actually paid out. The Sunday Express writes:

CABINET Minister James Purnell was under pressure last night to explain why he claimed £10,000 more in Parliamentary expenses than he paid in rent for his London flat.

The Welfare and Pensions Secretary, tipped as a future leader of the Labour Party, pocketed £10,143 more than the rent he

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“Reform MPs’ pay once and for all, says Clegg”

From today’s Independent,

The Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg demanded yesterday that Gordon Brown swiftly set a date to discuss MPs’ expenses.

The Prime Minister said last week that the system of pay and perks must be sorted out “once and for all, adding that he was happy to discuss the issue with fellow party leaders.

But Mr Clegg said the email scandal engulfing No 10 had heightened the need for reforms. He said a meeting should be held “without delay to come up with a fair and open way of meeting MPs’ costs”.

He said: “As the events of the Easter weekend have

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Viewing MPs’ travel expenses on a map

There’s a nifty little Google Map at http://ouseful.open.ac.uk/maps/mpTravelExpensesMap.html which is a great example of how you can use maps to make statistics clearer. In this case, the big issue is that MPs do have genuinely different legitimate travel needs depending on where they live. It’s only reasonable for an MP from Scotland to have much higher travel expenses than one who lives in London, for example.

Putting the sums on a map helps show the patterns which are reasonable. And it also highlights those which are a bit more surprising, such as the previously mentioned Margaret Moran, Labour MP …

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Conservative MP Chris Grayling under fire for his expense claims

The Sunday Mirror is highlighting Conservative MP Chris Grayling’s expense claims for his flat near Parliament:

Top Tory Chris Grayling has claimed £104,183 of taxpayers’ money over six years for a London flat – even though he has a family home just 17 miles away from Westminster.

And neighbours of the Shadow Home Secretary say they “rarely, if ever” see him at the Westminster flat where his postbox is packed with unopened mail.

On the eve of becoming an MP in June 2001, Mr Grayling, 46, paid £127,000 for the one-bedroom flat in a six-storey block, which has views of Westminster Cathedral and is

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Pressure grows on Jacqui Smith over expense claims

The former chairman of the Standards Committee, Sir Alistair Graham, has acquired rather a habit of speaking out bluntly to put pressure on MPs over their standards and he’s done it again on Newsnight:

“It must not look as if you’re manipulating expenses for your own financial gain.”

If it is found Ms Smith resides in her London home more nights a week than her Redditch home, he said: “She’ll be in the clear in the sense of the rules, but in the sense of her political career – she won’t be.” (PoliticsHome)

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Why are we still waiting for details on how MPs spent their Communications Allowance?

The Communications Allowance is a fund for each MP of £10,000 a year of taxpayers money to spend on ensuring their re-election communicating with their constituents. That is a pretty massive sum. At current prices as a sitting MP I could have a full colour A3 delivered to every house in a constituency four times a year. By anyone’s standards its a massive boost to local campaigning

So I’m awaiting details as to how MPs have spent this windfall with interest. And it will be declared by the Parliamentary authorities.

Eventually at least.

According to www.parliament.uk, “Costs will …

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Secrecy row over MPs’ foreign trips

The Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin, has blocked the release of details about MPs’ foreign trips with the British Council.

From The Telegraph:

Since February 2007, 12 MPs have travelled overseas with the British Council to destinations including Thailand, India and Malawi, often at a cost of thousands of pounds.

MPs must normally declare any hospitality they receive from outside organisations, and the British Council does not appear on a list of bodies whose gifts are exempt from the requirement.

When The Sunday Telegraph used the Freedom of Information Act to ask the Commons authorities why the trips were not

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PM U-turn on #MPexpenses

Surprising turn of events reported in the Guardian:

Gordon Brown today retreated from plans to exempt MPs’ expenses from the Freedom of Information Act.

The surprise announcement made during prime ministers questions follows the collapse overnight of a bipartisan agreement between Brown and David Cameron, the Tory leader, to back a parliamentary order exempting MPs’ expenses from the act. The move came after he was challenged by a Tory backbencher over why he was in favour of keeping them secret.

It means that plans to issue 1.2m receipts for MPs’ expenses over the past three years are likely to go ahead within weeks.

The

Posted in News and Parliament | 7 Comments

#MPexpenses: two parties shift position

Last night, it was not clear if there was an organised Tory position on the emerging scandal concerning freedom of information and MPs’ expenses. Last week’s Guardian confided: “A Tory source said David Cameron was likely to encourage his MPs to abstain on Thursday”

The same Guardian article last week had Lib Dem Shadow Leader of the House David Heath saying, “his is not a matter for a whipped vote  I will certainly be recommending that colleagues vote against the proposal to exempt parliament.”

This morning, all change. “Tory frontbench and Lib Dems fight move to hide MPs’ expenses”, the

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#MPexpenses – what are the Lib Dems doing?

I said earlier on today that the Lib Dems have a tale to tell about combatting the current plan to exempt members of Parliament from freedom of information legislation in force across most of the rest of the public sector. The party has been fighting this particular battle since David Maclean’s 2006 bill won support from both Conservative and Labour members, and had tacit support from the Government in its unusually trouble-free passage through the parliamentary process.

Now the bill is back in the form of an Order, proposed by the Leader of the House, there can be …

Posted in News and Parliament | 5 Comments

Catchup 20th Jan 2009

This week’s catchup comes to you in the week the Government decided there would, after all, be another runway at Heathrow. We covered that with news that Kramer and Baker are i/c for the Lib Dems, but that at least 15 others feel strongly enough about the issue to put money where their mouths are. And we ended the week with a rallying cry from Benjamin Mathis telling us to think further than opposition.

catchup2

It was also the week in which self-serving ministers moved to ban the public from knowing how MPs spend public money. We wrote about that here, and were pleased to hear that Jo Swinson tabled an EDM on the subject. If you’re at all twitter-minded, the hashtag #MPexpenses is seeing a fair bit of traffic as twitizens exhort each other to contact MPs in protest.

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#MPexpenses – act now!

Today is the last day you can contact your MP to urge them to vote against emergency legislation preventing the publication of parliamentarian’s expenses.

News of the planned exemption hit the headlines only last Friday giving this campaign scant time to get started. Many MPs are unaware a vote a scheduled, since it has been timetabled to a slot when many may already have left for their constituencies.

It’s times like these when fast communication tools like Twitter and Facebook come into their own.

A hashtag – #MPexpenses – soon evolved. I watched in awe over the weekend as a …

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Lib Dem MP to put down motion against expenses cover-up

Yesterday David Heath said that both he and Nick Clegg opposed plans to exempt MPs from having to publish full details of their expenses. Now fellow Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson has said she will be putting down a Parliamentary motion supporting this opposition:

Jo Swinson, will on Monday table a parliamentary motion against the Government’s decision to exempt MPs from publishing full details of their expenses.

The motion criticises the “regressive effect” of the move on Parliamentary transparency.

Commenting, Jo Swinson said: “Ministers should not be cooking up plans to keep MPs’ expenses hidden from public view. With this

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Lib Dems to oppose Labour/Tory attempts to weaken Freedom of Information

Today’s Guardian reports on Labour’s latest attempts to dilute the very Freedom of Information Act (2000) which it once passed:

Ministers today faced a backlash following the revelation that they are backing plans to exempt MPs from Freedom of Information Act legislation. The Liberal Democrats denounced the move, saying the party’s MPs would be advised to vote against the plan when it is considered in a free vote next Thursday. Tories are being urged to abstain. However, with many backbenchers from the two main parties privately in favour of the move, it is expected to be approved. …

Downing Street defended

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarAndrew Martin 21st Apr - 3:15pm
    I have a problem with the title of this - in particular the word 'need'. We could always choose to change the amount we spend...
  • User AvatarChris 21st Apr - 3:14pm
    "For the price of a large glass of wine in an Edinburgh city centre pub ..." £8 may be the price of a glass of...
  • User AvatarJenny Barnes 21st Apr - 2:42pm
    johnmc "no one takes crutches, etc back to the hospitals – it’s too much trouble! " Wrong. I do.
  • User AvatarMack (Not a Lib Dem) 21st Apr - 2:42pm
    @Manfarang "The UK has the eighth largest economy , " I'm sure that the million starving people in the UK who are dependent on Food...
  • User AvatarTpfkar 21st Apr - 2:08pm
    Brave thread - it feels politically impossible to address these issues in Government as the NHS is such a political football. The only way I...
  • User AvatarAlan Budimirovic 21st Apr - 2:07pm
    @ Phyllis. The Labour Party in 2006 introduced the THE CONSEQUENTIAL PRIVISIONS ACT. this meant that all those who were in private rented accommodation were...