Friday, May 22, 2009

This is the problem.....

Apparently, the Tory MP for Clwyd West, David Jones, spent £339 on a satnav. Now, excuse the language but, big deal. He's an MP that lives in a rural constituency in North Wales that is full of hundreds of tiny B and C roads that span a mass of contoured countryside. Doesn't he, arguably, need a satnav?

Paul Waugh, bizarrely asks, what's wrong with a five pound road atlas? Well, for a start a £5 road atlas doesn't GPS that, should you breakdown in the middle of Wales when its snowing or the like, you can at least tell someone exactly where you are? Not to mention the safety aspect of a satnav compared to map reading on single lane B or C roads. Oh yes, and no one can know every nook and cranny whatever Paul Waugh might think.

To be honest, this is exactly the sort of thing I was talking about in the Collateral Damage post I did the other day. I have no problem with their being genuine anger and disgust at the MPs who, for example, claim for non-existent mortgages and pocket the money; buy a duck house and claim it back from us or clean a moat at our expense, but a satnav?

There is a air of complete insanity coming into some of these stories, where even something that is justifiable for the job is being highlighted as somehow excessive and the resulting MP is being named and forced into defence or humble apologies over nonsense. Yes, some of them deserve criminal charges, but all sense of proportion is getting lost in frothing isn't it?
Note: Image of Clwyd West to demonstrate the terrain.


Demetrius said...

If David Jones needs to do a good deal of travelling around Clwyd, then he needs the gear. Not just Sat Nav but a good set of detailed OS Maps. So OK on this one. To suggest that the £5 maps I use for motorway and main road running is barmy. Whether this kind of expense should be met is something that the rules should deal with. In this case if I was drawing up the rules for expenses (been there done that) then OK within reasonable limits. Satnav yes, personal helicopter no.

Anonymous said...

If he'd bought a mid-range satnav at about £100, I'd fully agree with you. But he didn't. He spent £340.

See also the MP in Edinburgh (IIRC) who thinks there are only two types of alarm clock, those at £230 and those from "the 99p shop".

dizzy said...

If he'd bought a mid-range satnav at about £100, I'd fully agree with you. But he didn't. He spent £340.

Using 2009 prices to make a comparison on a receipt that could be as old as 2005?

S Woodward Esq said...

Preposterous. If the countryside is unfamilar then take a footman along to map read for the driver.

(Both of which are allowable expenses, my butler tells me)

Rich B said...

Why should we pay for a sat nav? Get a map, aa routefinder print out and do what we have all done for years. Use your brain.

Few people need sat navs - loads have them when 99% of their journeys are to places they know over routes they have travelled before.

If he's lived there for a few years he will know his way around.

Sat Navs - you see them in so many cars - a great example of marketing selling us shit that (almost all of us) don't need.

Andrew K said...

I know the roads in his constituency. They are narrow, winding and where signposts exist they are of the old "fingerposts" type which are prone to (ahem) adjustment by witty local youths.

Having spent time hoping I can find a road I know or a signpost I can trust before dark, I can attest that sat nav is a must-have. Shame they didn't do it for bikes when I was out and about there.

dizzy said...

@Rich B

That is patent bollocks. 100% crap. I lived in the constituency of Asylebury for 2/3 of my life and there are still hamlets and villages I have never heard of that are on windy back B road or C roads.

Lola said...

I'm with Dizzy. As an employer I'd buy my rep for that area a bloody good satnav as it would save him or her time and hence me money. Of course most companies do this already because they know it make sense. So I reckon it was 349 well spent - for a change.

JMB said...

I suppose the question to ask is whether he would have bought a Sat Nav to use in his car for non-constituency travel?

It is quite likely quite justified but does sound suspiciously like "we need a Sat Nav for the car so might as well charge to the taxpayer".

dizzy said...

OK, here's the problem again though,. You can split hairs about "use" of anything bought on expenses.

Oh he bought a suit on expenses but still wore it out on personal outing too. BASTARD!!!!


Anonymous said...

I've lived in the same town for 53 years and explored much of the surrounding countryside as a postman, since Google Earth came along, I am staggered at just how many local places I was unaware of.

Unknown said...

The question behind this is the agenda of the Barclay brothers, no friends to democracy, as the citizens of Sark know well. We are already seeing signs of some kind of alternative list of approved "integrity candidates". This kind of item is starting to make me paranoid. Is anyone else worried what these rich kids are up to!

Mark M said...

I was also going to make a comment on the fact he spent £340 on a satnav (I paid £90 for mine last year), but then you make a good point about how he could well have bought it in 2005, and I can't remember how much satnavs were back then.

It does highlight Friedman's 4 ways of spending money nicely though. If you are spending someone else's money on a satnav, you will buy the most expensive one. If you are spending your own money on a satnav, you get cheapest one that does what you need.

Much like Brown's £6000 cleaner, what these expenses have really shown is that MPs have no concept of value for money. No wonder we have massive waste and inefficiency in, for instance, the NHS.

Triffid said...

Is anyone else able to put in satnavs as expenses ?

No. We all buy our own.

If the argument is that MP's are paid too little then fine (actually I agree.) However, bolstering your money with ridiculous claims shows a complete lack of morals. The amount of money isn't the issue - it's that these things are done dishonestly.

The Welsh Jacobite said...

This "story" results from a gentle joke at Jones' expense. It's bizarre to see people making a mountain out a molehill.

Jones has made his expenses available voluntarily (this isn't a Daily Telegraph revelation) and the Liverpool Daily Post, one of the local papers for his constituency, picked up on the Satnav purchase to give their report a mildly humorous, human interest angle. They weren't criticising him, and he himself is relaxed about their article:

dizzy said...


Yes, people who do driving around a lot do. And as this guy has to drive around a very rural area a lot for his job then he does too.

@the welsh jacobite

To be fair I was really pointing at Paul Waugh's outrage in the ES

Bastard said...

These people are just jealous. What's it got to do with them anyway? One question though: Why does an MP need to drive around his constituency, (sheep shagging aside) and how often does this happen in reality?

Anoneumouse said...

Has this purchase made him more efficient than his predecessors?

If he cant navigate conventionally around his constituency then one wonder how he has any hope of navigating the green book

Steve said...


My company has both a stock of satnavs for staff to use, and purchase them for people on the road a lot.

Just as they give me a mobile phone, beacause I make a lot of business calls.

One problem, as I see it, is that many people criticising these expenses have litte experience of working in an environment where expense claims are common in their day-to-day work activity.

Gareth said...


I think you're overreacting to Paul Waugh's overreaction. There is nothing wrong with MPs explaining themselves to us. It's a simple enough thing to do (As Michael Gove demostrated.) The sat nav is clearly for getting about a remote constituency. Loads of people have them. Loads of people find them very useful.

The important question to ask is 'Why have so few of you done all this before now?'.

If politicians stopped trying to hide these things and treated us like grown ups, perhaps they'd be better respected. The reason for having kept things quiet appears to be that it was an addition to their salary made to look like an expenses system to keep it from our eyes and the Taxman's. That's not on.

Houdini said...

Why should we pay for a sat nav?You effectively paid for mine as I put it through the books. I'm willing to bet that every single self-employed person in the UK put a sat-nav through books. So I agree Dizzy and the rest who disagree should get a life.

Anonymous said...

I live in Clwyd West and there are a multitude of hamlets and very small villages let alone the tracks and forestry roads that would make it impossible to familiarise oneself woth the entire area. I can assure you that anyone who lived in the area would understand the situation perfectly. David Jones is a good and conscientious MP who does not deserve this sort of treatment.

jailhouselawyer said...

Don't turn Right at the next General Election, keep to the Left and you will arrive safe and sound.

Anonymous said...

Seems like C4 is saying that the "duck house" was turned down by the fees office as was the "moat cleaning". I was surprised that this fact has not been publicised by anyone before!!

Rich B said...

@ Dizzy

"Patent Bollocks" and "100% crap"? Nice.

If you think, as appears to be suggested, that this MP is driving round the back roads between Conwy and Ruthin in the dark, unaccompanied, scratching his head about which way to turn, you must be having a laugh.

That part of North Wales is not some uncharted wilderness and it is absurd to suggest as a given that sat navs are necessary. Jones has lived in North Wales almost all of his life. He grew up in the area and worked just up the road in Llandudno for years.

Is a sat nav essential to the job of an MP? Is it in the same bracket as an office printer, or a flat screen tv? I would suggest its in the middle somewhere. I'm still not sure it should be paid for by us.

It still remains the case that most of the people I know with sat navs don't need them.

@ Houdini

I am self employed - have been for years. I don't own a sat nav and I drive all over the place. "..the rest who disagreee should get a life." You put yours on overheads and the tax man likely pays almost no attention to your tax return, like most of us. Whether it is a legitimate expense depends on what you do for a living. MPs aren't self employed.

Anonymous said...

That is patent bollocks. 100% crap. I lived in the constituency of Asylebury for 2/3 of my life and there are still hamlets and villages I have never heard of that are on windy back B road or C roadsUsing your own stupidity as a reason to justify the stupidity of another, is the sort of argument I'd expect from someone of your intellectual rigour. Use routefinder and a map. Where thefuck do you think the information on a satnav actually comes from?

Houdini said...

Rich B,

I live in Flintshire, and much of the county, especially around Ruthin and Mold, and stretching out and around St Asaph, is virtually uncharted territory where most inhabitants of the county get lost regularly, and not in the dark. I went looking just last week for a an animal shelter to get a rabbit with my grand daughter, just outside Mold, and we spent two hours looking for the place, and I live a mere eight miles. This is because there is a myriad of small roads. If you say differently, you are a fool trying to support your silly position.

If you don't claim for a sat nav and are self employed, and drive for a living or a good proportion of it, you are doubly a fool and doubly talk patent bollocks.

Llost in Llandudno said...

The back roads of Wales are littered with fifty years' worth of skeletons of people who tried (poor fools!) to drive anywhere before satnavs were invented. It's a wonder anyone ever dared go out. The poet tried to warn them:

Better a lonely evening in watching S4C, isn't it,
Than the peryglus road over the mountain
To the pub which the vile Sais have taken over
Because Dafydd Ellis Thomas Jenkins got fed up
Of only making £3.50 a week on account of
Everyone going down the Cwop
To buy crates of Stella for less than he could get
From the Cash and Carri in Aber.

Better it is
Than on the many sideroads, though signposted
Misleadingly in painted-out English, and good Welsh
Which no bygger round yer speaks these days, lost to become
And get a right earful off the missus when you gets back
Eventually at five o'r gloch ay emm in the morning
Home to stay where you will probly not get lost at all.

Heed the warning of the wise: go not out until
You got a satnav off the catalogue
Or become an MP, tidy.

Anonymous said...

MPs need expenses. And some of the attitude of the 'public' or at least the 'public' the BBC chose to invite are getting hysterical.

Its clear there are some duplicitous activities going on, but when the PM himself is a party to the flipping and spending money on his personal home, its hard to see how he can effectively discipline his party.

the main, though not sole, sickening misdemeanour is where people have misrepresented their circumstances to claim a housing allowance.

Alex said...

A SatNav can be used to calculate minimum distances and hence provide lowest mileage allowance.

Robert said...

How many other people would have used expenses for god sake he has enough money buy it him self.

Andrew K said...

Llost in Llandudno

You must be VERY lost: "isn't it", "round yer" and "tidy" are all South Wales usages. If you are trying to channel the late R S Thomas, you're not succeeding.

Rich B said...

@ Houdini

Doubly a fool and doubly talk bollocks.

Lets not beat about the bush. Ultimately you need a sat nav because you're thick as shit. Simples!!!

Anonymous said...

I think sat nav for someone who has to drive round a constituency was a pretty fair claim. Not really sure why they have tried to flag that one up.

It's hardly the same league as duck houses and Tudor cladding.

I'd rather see a bit more focus on those may have committed fraud.