ARTICLE: House of Perks: MPs claim record £103mn in expenses

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MPs’ staff, travel and accommodation costs reached £103 million last year, up from £99 million the previous year and £95 million in 2009 – the peak of the parliamentary expenses scandal.

More than £80 million was spent on staff salaries and £11 million on office costs. The bill for accommodation, covering hotels, rented homes and utility bills, was £6.9 million, while £4.5 million were claimed for travel and subsistence.

The Democratic Unionist Party’s Jim Shannon had the biggest claim at £229,262, including £38,215 on travel and £12,126 on hotels.

The bill for MPs’ expenses reached record levels last year, as more politicians put their spouses and children on the public payroll.

A total of 170 MPs employed relatives, at a cost of more than £4 million. The previous year, 150 MPs had family members on the payroll.

Senior Conservatives who employ relations include Defence Secretary Michael Fallon and Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. Laurence Robertson, the MP for Tewkesbury, employs his ex-wife and his wife. Anne Adams is paid £40,000 to £45,000 as a senior parliamentary assistant, while his ex-wife Susan Robertson gets paid £25,000 to £30,000 as a senior secretary.

Andy Silvester, from the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Taxpayers will be deeply concerned that the cost of Westminster is going up again.

“David Cameron pledged to reduce the cost of politics after the excesses of the expenses scandal. Politicians must be held accountable for their promises. Combined with the ever-increasing number of peers, that promise looks increasingly difficult to keep.”

He added that there was “nothing wrong with employing family members if they’re qualified for the job, but there needs to be total transparency whenever that’s the case.”

The details were released in an annual report by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) on Thursday, which was set up to handle MPs’ pay after the 2009 expenses scandal.

In 2009, the Telegraph revealed that MPs misused their allowances for private purposes for years, causing public outrage. The political scandal resulted in arrests, resignations and dismissals, as well as public apologies and the repayment of expenses. Former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, who claimed back expenses for her husband’s adult movies, was one of the high-profile politicians that were exposed.

IPSA chairman Sir Ian Kennedy said reforms to the system had saved £58 million over four years. He said: “Such is the progress made since the scandals which came to light in 2009, our work is attracting the attention of parliaments around the world.”

This week, Marcial Boo, IPSA’s chief executive, proposed that MPs should get a 9 percent pay rise next year, arguing that MPs did an important job and should not be paid a “miserly amount.” David Cameron, whose basic salary as prime minister is £142,500, has opposed the salary increase for MPs.

The basic annual salary for MPs currently stands at £67,060, two and a half times the UK average salary of £26,500.

Source: http://rt.com/uk/187252-mps-claim-record-expenses/

ARTICLE: Was Guy Fawkes the Last Honest Man to Pass through Westminster?

Hat tip: http://www.westernspring.co.uk/was-guy-fawkes-the-last-good-man-to-pass-through-westminster/

Imagine a government that would deliberately take millions away from the budget meant to educate its own nation’s children, while at the time use billions to send foreign aid to other nations who don’t need it?

That would be nothing less than treason. You cannot imagine any sane government doing such a thing. Think of, for example, China, or Japan, deliberately depriving its own people of an education while giving money to Korea? It just wouldn’t happen, because the Chinese and the Japanese would—rightly—regard that as nothing less than treason.

Of course, you guessed it: Britain’s House of Treason down by the banks of the old river, has done precisely that—and no-one seems to know or care.

The Tory-Lib-Dem-Labour party—because they are just all the same party—is busy with much-vaunted “budget cuts” to “save the economy” (after they and their big business bank cronies screwed it over in the first place) and one of the first cuts to be announced was in the education arena.

Any parent with university-age going children is well aware that uni fees have now rocketed from a manageable amount just two or three years ago, to an impossible £9,000 per year—and that is just for the tutoring fees, never mind books, resources, living allowances, residence and so on.

Even those students “lucky” enough to get loans, start off their working lives with tens of thousands of pounds of debt—an impossible burden which—even more importantly—makes starting a family next to impossible.

The nuts and bolts of the process are as follows: England’s university budgets were cut by £449 million in 2010, with similar cuts being added each following year. This means that over £1.3 billion has been cut in the last three years, and there is no end yet in sight. By the end of 2014, the total uni education budget cut will be cut by nearly £4 billion.

In practical terms, this means that the universities have had at least 6,000 fewer places each academic year.

In addition, research funding has been frozen and the uni buildings budget cut by 15 percent.

At the same time, the Government has announced that taxpayers will hand over £50.8 billion in foreign aid to the Third World by 2014. This translates to 61 percent of the total “spending review” cuts announced by the Government.

According to a press release issued by the Department for International Development (DFID), the total foreign aid budget will reach the targeted 0.7 percent of Gross National Income (GNI) by 2013.

This would mean a yearly spend of £12.6 billion, the DFID said.

This increased spending, the DFID said, is “in line with the UK’s international commitments to help those living in extreme poverty in our world. Over the course of the Spending Review period, the Department for International Development will increase resource spending by 35 percent in real terms, and increase capital spending by 20 percent in real terms.”

This means that the foreign aid budget was £8.4 billion in 2010, £8.7 billion in 2011, £9.1 billion in 2012, and will be £12.0 billion in 2013, and £12.6 billion in 2014—totalling £50.8 billion by the end of 2014.

So there you have it: cut the education budget by £4 billion, but boost the foreign aid budget by £50 billion.

Who would dare call it treason?  I for one, and I am increasingly becoming convinced that the last honest man to pass through the halls of Westminster was indeed Guy Fawkes.

ARTICLE: M.P.s Demands Free Food

PAMPERED MPs want free meals after complaining of MICE and “stinking” cut-price grub in the Commons.

They want taxpayers to pick up the entire bill for all they scoff.

Many complain of “weird” menus served up in “Soviet-style” restaurants INFESTED with mice — and say the food is not worth paying for. But taxpayers fork out£5.8MILLION a year to subsidise their meals.

One MP wrote: “I saw a mouse in the Members’ Tea Room about which I made comment to a member of staff. The member of staff was pretty matter of fact — to the point that I got the impression that the sight of a rodent was par for the course!”

Scores moaned about the standard of their heavily-subsidised food in a survey of politicians and their staff.

They whinged about the wine waiters and complained that coffee bar staff did not know the difference between a cappuccino and a latte.

The complaints about the cheap meals and wine at Westminster come in a survey of MPs and their staff conducted by private pollsters — costing taxpayers another £27,790.

Details obtained under Freedom of Information laws lay bare the full extent of the dissatisfaction. A typical meal — rib-eye steak with hand-cut chips and Béarnaise sauce — costs two quid — £7.80, less a taxpayers’ subsidy of £5.92.

But one MP whinged: “The restaurants are Soviet-style. Vegetables are horrendously overcooked, meat is often raw.

“Sandwiches taste like they have been frozen for three months. It’s a shocker.”

Another blasted: “The food is really starting to stink.”

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/politics/article4391212.ece

ARTICLE: Ken Livingstone’s anti-“fascist” group appoints “fascist” as vice-chair

 

One of this blog’s oldest friends, Azad Ali, has a great new post. As the Harry’s Place blog reports, Azad is the new vice-chair of Unite Against Fascism, the ostensibly anti-racist group (in fact more of a meal-ticket for the leadership of the Socialist Workers’ Party.)

Azad is the community affairs co-ordinator of the extremist Islamic Forum of Europe, which controls the East London Mosque and which isdedicated, in its own words, to changing the “very infrastructure of society, its institutions, its culture, its political order and its creed … from ignorance to Islam.” Through “hisbah” (the enforcement of Islamic law) and “jihad,” it aims to create a “global” Islamic dictatorship, the caliphate, and its “primary work” in this “is in Europebecause it is this continent, despite all the furore about its achievements, which has a moral and spiritual vacuum.”

The IFE has already made some progress towards its goal, exercisingstrong influence over Tower Hamlets Council through its close ally, the elected mayor, Lutfur Rahman. Lutfur’s council has been busily engaged in enforcing Islamic law on, for instance, local strip clubs and a gay pub. At the last election Azad and the IFE also helped to deliver extraordinary and unprecedented swings in their East London heartland for their equally close friend, Ken Livingstone (Ken had given the East London Mosque more than £1 million of City Hall money to build the IFE a new headquarters, despite the strenuous objections of his officials.)

Azad has written on his IFE blog of his “love” for Anwar al-Awlaki, the al-Qaeda cleric. He used to attend talks by Al-Qaeda’s main representative in the UK, Abu Qatada. He has described al-Qaeda as a “myth” and said that the Mumbai terrorist attacks were not terrorism. On his IFE blog, he advocated the killing of British troops in Iraq (he sued a newspaper for reporting this, and lost.) Filmed by an undercover reporter for my Channel 4 Dispatches on the IFE, Azad said: “Democracy, if it means at the expense of not implementing the sharia, of course no-one agrees with that.” His response to this exposure was to threaten our undercover reporter.

It would, I think, be fair to describe Azad Ali as an Islamic fascist.

And Azad’s immediate boss, UAF’s chair, is… Ken Livingstone. In this small world, isn’t it fascinating how the same names keep cropping up?

Read on: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/andrewgilligan/100140248/ken-livingstones-anti-fascist-group-appoints-fascist-as-vice-chair/

Fraud charges in MPs’ expenses row move step closer as police send four files to prosecutors

Up to four MPs and peers are to face fraud charges over the expenses scandal by early in the New Year, it emerged today.

In a move which shook through the political establishment, detectives have referred case files on four parliamentarians to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Police believe there is sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges in each of the cases, sources said.

 

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, is expected to rubber stamp charges against the politicians by February.

Such a development would result in the highly embarrassing spectacle of MPs and peers appearing in court before next May’s expected General Election.

The politicians could face charges of fraud or false accounting, with maximum penalties of ten or seven years. There was no official word today on which cases had been sent to the CPS.

However it is known that police believe there is strong evidence against Labour MPs Elliot Morley and David Chaytor, and Labour peer Baroness Uddin, and that such cases were likely to be in the first batch of files to be considered by prosecution lawyers.

Other politicians believed to be under police investigation include Labour MP Jim Devine, Lord Hanningfield and Lord Clarke of Hampstead.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: ‘The Metropolitan Police Service has today delivered four main files of evidence relating to parliamentary expenses to the Crown Prosecution Service.

‘The files relate to four people, from both the House of Lords and the House of Commons, and will now be subject to CPS consideration on whether there should be any charges.

‘A small number of cases remain under investigation.’

Read on

No one knows what happens if retiring MPs refuse to make their repayments

harriet-harperson

The MPs who are most likely to defy Legg are those who are standing down. They have little to lose in saying that they won’t abide by the retrospectively imposed caps on various things. The question of whether they could be compelled to pay this money back looks like it could turn into a major row. In an interview with Andrew Neil to be broadcast tomorrow Harriet Harman seems to have no concrete idea of how this process might actually work:

Andrew Neil: What would happen to an MP of any party, what would happen to an MP who decides that he or she is standing down at the next election and refuses to pay up?

HH: Well, I think that we haven’t got to that situation. I think that…

AN: What would happen?

HH: Well, we, we, we, you know, I think that that’s an entirely hypothetical situation but I mean…

AN: It could happen – many people are not standing again, many people have had requests from Legg to pay back. What happens if they don’t pay back the money?

HH: Well, I think they will pay back, they will pay back.

AN: Even if they’re standing down?

HH: Well, the House of Common’s authorities, the Members’ Estimates Committee, will have the responsibility at that point to ensure that money which the Members’ Estimates Committee feels needs to be recouped on the back of the Legg investigation is recouped. I mean, that’s what the situation will be.

Read on