Archive for ‘MPs expenses’

February 3, 2011

MPs rail against expenses body

Frustration with IPSA, the body set up in the wake of the MPs expenses scandal, came to the fore today, as new expenses details were published. IPSA is facing more criticism, including from Leader of the House Sir George Young. He said that the body was “at best distracting, and at worst impeding, MPs from doing their job”. His Conservative colleague, Penny Mordaunt MP (Portsmout North,) has said that the new expenses system meant that she ended up with just £22 over Christmas. The Prime Minister David Cameron has given IPSA until the spring to sort itself out, but its Chair Sir Ian Kennedy is defiant, telling the BBC’s News at 6 that IPSA would operate and change at its own pace.

There will undoubtedly be little public sympathy for MPs who claim to be hard up, but Caroline Flint was right when she said a while ago “it shouldn’t only be millionaires and geeks that can become MPs”. It goes without saying the expenses system required a huge overhaul, but the only way a system for MPs can work is if both MPs and the public feel it is fair and accountable. It does not serve the public interest if MPs are distracted or prevented from carrying out their duties due to the expenses system. Being an MP is a privilege not a punishment, and any system of reimbursement must strike that balance of accountability and usability.

January 11, 2011

>Breaking: Eric Isllely MP pleads guilty to expenses charges


Eric Illslely, MP for Barnsley Central, has pleaded guilty in Southwark Crown Court to 3 charges of false accounting, relating to his expenses. Mr. Illsley was reelected as a Labour MP in May with a majority of 11,000, but has subsequently been expelled from the Labour party. He now technically sits as a Independent. 
Former colleague David Chaytor was last week sentenced to 18 months in prison for similar charges. Mr. Illsely could also face a custodial sentence, of up to 7 years. His sentencing would of course prompt another by-election, following the ongoing one in Oldham East and Saddleworth.
January 7, 2011

>Chaytor faces prison over expenses claims


Picture via The Telegraph

Former Labour MP for Bury North David Chaytor has been sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for False Accounting.

Cheating Chaytor claimed thousands of pounds of taxpayers money for IT consultancy he was never charged for, and rent on homes he and his mother owned. Far from a being a stupid mistake with the paperwork, as the defense claimed, these seem fairly quite deliberate abuses of the system. Chaytor may consider himself lucky, as he could have face up to 7 years in prison.

Labour have not been having a good time in the court recently, having also had Phil Woolas thrown out in Oldham East and Saddleworth over his campaign.

The other MPs and peers facing court over their claims over their expenses must now be seriously worried that they too will find themselves behind bars before too long.

November 10, 2010

>Three MPs to face proper courts over expenses


Picture via the BBC/PA

Former Labour MPs Jim Devine, David Chaytor, and Elliot Morley will face court over their expenses claims. The three had claimed that parliamentary privilege meant only Parliament itself could hear their case. Nonsense, as parliamentary privilege is about freeing MPs of the fear of being sued for libel for things said on the floor of the House. It does not extent to excusing robbing the electorate. 

Thankfully common sense has prevailed and the Supreme court has ruled that they must all individually stand trial at Southwark Crown Court. It is pretty outrageous that they have wasted court resources to even fight this, and shows a staggering lack of regret, and a huge amount of arrogance. 

Seem like you take the man out of Labour…

October 14, 2010

>Dennis Machsahne MP reported to police

>Labour MP for Rotherham Dennis Macshane has been reported to the police by the Standards and Privileges Committee . Not many details are known yet, but the Committee have issued the following statement:

“At its meeting on 12 October, the Committee agreed that the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards should report to the Metropolitan Police Service the conduct of the Rt hon Member for Rotherham, Mr Denis MacShane. In accordance with procedures agreed in 2008[1] between the Committee on Standards and Privileges, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and the Metropolitan Police, the Commissioner’s inquiry into a complaint against Mr MacShane will be suspended until the question of possible criminal proceedings has been resolved. “

This has emerged just a couple of weeks after the court dates were set for the other parliamentarians facing expenses related charges. 

October 5, 2010

>Date set for expenses MPs to appear in court

>The dates for the expenses trials have been set. Former MPs, Elliot Morley, David Chaytor and Jim Devine will stand trial from 22 November, 6 December and 2 February respectively. From the Lords, Lord Hanngfield’s trial starts on the 13 December, and Lord Taylor’s on 17 January. The only currently sitting MP facing criminal charges, Eric Illsley, will stand trial from 10 January. They will all face charges of false accounting.

Thankfully they will stand trial in Southwark Crown Court, not in Parliament. The men tried to claim that Parliamentary Privilege, the rules that mean MPs can ask questions and make statements in Parliament without fear of being sued, meant they could only be tried in Parliament. That attempt made the collection of rubbish that is the expenses scandal stink just that little bit more, but hopefully these cases will mean British politics can start to move on.

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