Wednesday, May 27, 2009

They're taking us for fools

Something has been bothering me about all these MPs, Tory and Labour, who have been found to be royally taking the piss out of the expenses system and thus quitting. Why is it that they're all stepping down at the next election? Why are they not going immediately?

It couldn't be because they need the money for just a little longer could it? Aren't we just being taken for fools by them some more? They're all going to potentially have another 10 months of spending taxpayer money. How is that a punishment exactly?

18 comments:

Sue said...

I keep wondering that myself. Shouldn't they all be sacked on the spot for fraud and gross misconduct?

Nothing happening at all to the biggest labour offenders and the Conservatives are no doubt hoping it would have all blown over by the next election?

Now they're hoping their EU campaigning manifestos will take the heat off too..

We must not let them forget, we expect sackings and criminal charges brought against the guilty.

Gareth said...

A good point.

Who is in control? MPs derive their authority from us so we should be. Why should we have to wait for our MP to die, decide to retire or there is a general election?

We are the only ones who can dimiss them but we do not have the power to do so except when they allow it. That needs to change.

AEG said...

Because they have technically abided by the rules, and everything was approved by the fees office. Cameron can't remove the whip if they didn't break the rules.

Note that I didn't say that they're right to claim for these expenses, I personally think that if any of them had any honour at all, then they wouldn't have taken them in the first place.

dizzy said...

Errr what does Cameron not being able to remove the whip have to do with it? You don't have to stand down as an MP if you have the whip removed, so what Cameron can or can't do makes bugger all difference.

John of Enfield said...

The "guilty" MPs are not being slung out of Parliament or their parties in great number because: -
1. The MPs involved will fight tooth & nail to hang on to their seat until the next election because they, especially long serving ones, get a form of redundancy pay if they step down at a general election.
2. GB does not want an early GE. He would rather, in the final analysis, have a few by-elections. However he wants to limit them because each & every one of them will undermine his authority even further.
3. DC is calling for a GE immediately & so he has no interest in booting out the "grandees" . They could cause him some trouble if he attacks them individually - especially in their pockets.

Moral scruple doesn't enter into the discussion I'm afraid.

dizzy said...

Who said anything about them needing to be kicked out? I was commeting on the fact that they've all basically said "I was very naughty, but I'm going to work my notice period which happens to be 10 months"

James Barlow said...

I imagine there is some anticipation of the furore when the public realises that every MP leaving office gets a no-questions-asked "winding-up" expenditure allowance along with a resettlement allowance.

Tom Paine said...

"Because they have technically abided by the rules, and everything was approved by the fees office"

Not so. (http://lastditch.typepad.com/lastditch/2009/05/it-is-not-within-the-rules.html) If you read the rules, they (mostly) did not follow them. As for the canard that the claims were "approved" by the Fees Office, it's amazing anyone still uses that. For "approved" read "did not strike down as obviously stupid". The Fees Office worked on the basis that "Honourable Members" deserved the title (as about half of them did, it seems, which is more than I would have predicted).

The correct way to "punish" them is via the criminal law and the real scandal now is that PC Plod is not intervening. A group of "high level" Police leaders is reviewing the situation, which is not quite what would happen to you or me if we committed fraud.

Old Holborn (http://bastardoldholborn.blogspot.com/2009/05/time-for-some-citizens-arrests-june-1st.html) is promising to make citizens arrests on June 1st and encouraging others to do likewise. He has the nerve to do it. Few others will, alas - especially if they have to brave armed and trigger happy Met Police protecting MPs. There is nothing, however, to stop any of you filing a complaint about your MP's alleged fraud with your local police. Their actions were criminal, not political, so why should their punishment be political?

Alex said...

Dizzy,

The answer is that an MP who stands down at an election gets
a) salary up until the election and no pressure
b) an extra 6 month's salary for "resettlement", and
c) a similar allowance for their staff.

I am not sure that they would get any of these if they stepped down immediately and indeed they would be out of pocket if they had to lay off any of the staff that they employ and paythem redundancy.

That doesn't make it right, but it is why they stay on. They only leave immediately when they have been offered a cushy job at the EU, NATO, UN, World Bank etc.

dizzy said...

Perhaps a better question I could have asked was "why do so many people answer rhetorical questions"?

Not a sheep said...

They have not "technically followed the rules"; there are overarching principles that they must comply with as part of "the rules". I wrote about this a while back - here's some extracts from the relevant section: ""1.3 Fundamental principles

In July 1995, the House agreed to adopt the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament – this can be found on the internet here – which includes a number of general principles of personal conduct. These are based on concepts of selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.
The broad principles set out below are derived from the Code of Conduct and underpin the allowance regime. When making claims against parliamentary allowances, Members must adhere to these principles.
The principles are:
Claims should be above reproach and must reflect actual usage of the resources being claimed.

Claims must only be made for expenditure that it was necessary for a Member to incur to ensure that he or she could properly perform his or her parliamentary duties.

Allowances are reimbursed only for the purpose of a Member carrying out his or her parliamentary duties. Claims cannot relate to party political activity of any sort, nor must any claim provide a benefit to a party political organisation.

It is not permissible for a Member to claim under any parliamentary allowance for anything that the Member is claiming from any other source.

Members must ensure that claims do not give rise to, or give the appearance of giving rise to, an improper personal financial benefit to themselves or anyone else.

Members are committed to openness about what expenditure has been incurred and for what purposes.

Individual Members take personal responsibility for all expenses incurred, for making claims and for keeping records, even if the administration of claims is delegated by them to others.

The requirement of ensuring value for money is central in claiming for accommodation, goods or services – Members should avoid purchases which could be seen as extravagant or luxurious.

Claims must be supported by documentary evidence, except where the House has agreed that such evidence is not necessary."

Alex said...

Because the answer is so obvious?

Anonymous said...

How much does a by-election cost? Is it cheaper to keep them on?

Old Codger said...

They don't get the redundancy packager if they step down before a general election Alex

AndyR said...

IIRC, an MP cannot resign. They must either die or be given a sinecure appointment, of which there are only two...

* Crown Steward and Bailiff of the three Chiltern Hundreds of Stoke, Desborough and Burnham

* Steward of the Manor of Northstead

So there's no mechanism which allows MPs to resign en masse. That might be a useful addition to any forthcoming reforms.

Henry Crun said...

What's a rhetorical question?

Alex said...

Henry Crun said...
"What's a rhetorical question?"

Do you think we are all stupid or something?
Don't answer that one!

Anonymous said...

"So there's no mechanism which allows MPs to resign en masse."

Yes there is: you just named them!