Monday, September 07, 2009

Has Vince Cable breached the communication expenses rules?

The rules on the use of the Communications Allowance are very clear when it comes to MPs website. For a start, MPs cannot use the allowance to pay for a website where the website carries out "party political activity or campaigning."(1) Likewise, you're not allowed to use the Communication Allowance to fund a website " to encourage people to join a particular political party."(2)

So it's interesting to see the self-appointed "shadow chancellor" for the Lib Dems, Vince "I saw it all coming don't you know!" Cable, should seem to be breaking these rules flagrantly on his own website. As the boxes below show, he not only has a links section of "other sites" which are pure party political Lib Dem sites, but he also has a "Join the Party" link on every page linking to a secure form.

Ahhh but I hear you say, "how do you know he's using the Communications Allowance?". Well that is rather simple, his own expenses section lists the website cost, and his own "redacted" expenses on the Parliamentary website show the following.

Don't expect anyone to do anything about it. Saint Cable appears to be untouchable. When a complaint was made to the Parliamentary Authorities about this, after been sent around the houses between different people to speak too, the Director General of the Department of Resources at the House of Commons eventually just insisted that Cable
"privately funds his website and has done so since September 2007. His website is therefore exempt from the rules governing the Communications Expenditure."
The funny thing is, a quick look at the Wayback Machine on Internet Archive, shows that he was still promoting links to only Lib Dem party campaigning sites, and links to "Join the Party" in August 2007. So even if what the Commons Authority says is correct, then he was in breach of the rules prior to September 2007 anyway.

Some may remember that during the expenses scandal, it was revealed that Cable asked if could backdate 4 years of allowances to the tune of nearly £10,000 because he didn't realise he could claim it.

And this guy wants to be in charge of the nation's finances?

I guess we'll have to wait and see if Cable makes any claims for his website when the 2008/09 Communications Allowance expenses are published, but it seems clear he broke the rules in the past if what the Commons authority says is in fact true.
(1) Section 6.12.2 Communications Allowance
(2) Section 6.12.4 Communications Allowance

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