5th February 2010. Dis-Honourable Members?
Radix malorum est cupiditas. Money is the root of all evil.
The Parliamentary expenses scandal resulted in resignations, sackings, de-selection and retirements, also in imprisonment and departure of the Commons’ Speaker.
Today in 2010 three Labour MPs, Jim Irvine, Elliot Morley (Environment Minister) and David Chaytor were charged and gaoled under the 1968 Theft Act for making false expense claims. (1)
About half of MPs had made false claims, which might only merit a loud guffaw until one realized that someone else was paying for: Douglas Hogg’s horse-manure and cleaning of his moat. For: Margaret Moran’s claim for £20,000 for dry rot at her partner’s house, 200 miles from Westminster. Later she was declared unfit to plead.
Claims rejected included: a duck house by Sir Peter Viggars, two Remembrance Day wreathes for veterans £33 from Ed. Balls, Schools’ Secretary, Dog Enclosure £175 by David Willetts Shadow Skills Secretary. Nice try!
Bill Cash survived as an MP, after claiming a second home allowance for a London flat in which his daughter Laetitia lived; he also had another flat nearby.
‘Flipping’ of houses was routine: Chancellor, Alistair Darling flipped four times, he also claimed for someone to complete his tax forms.
Many MPs had claimed for mortgage relief on none existent mortgages including Justice Minister, Jack Straw; his excuse, ‘I’m not an accountant and was busy at the time’.
Extravagance, pettiness and downright cheek show some of the bizarre claims made by our elected representatives including 3,000 fridge magnets costing £247, made by James Purnell, Pensions Secretary.
Other ‘expenses’ claimed include Tea Lights £1.19 by Nick Clegg Leader of Lib-Dems, Removal of Wisteria/Vines £680, by David Cameron, Tory Leader.
Then came miscellaneous claims for: boxes of matches, jellied eels, scotch eggs, chocolate Santa, 3kg jar of Mint Imperials, sweeping 8 chimneys, Ikea carrier bag, servicing a ‘ride-on-lawn mower’ and a trouser press.
‘Windows XP for Dummies’ to help Ken Clarke as Shadow Business Secretary, along with women’s dresses (cross-dresser?), and three comics for Phil Woolas Immigration Minister.
Then Edmund Burke’s ‘Reflections on the French Revolution’ was a ‘must’ by James Purnell, Work and Pensions Secretary, whilst Line Dancing Lessons was desired by socialite Ed Milliband.
Socialist and bon viveur, Gerald Kaufman, Labour MP for Manchester Gorton, claimed for an imported antique rug at £1800 and tried to claim for a £9,000 TV, which was rejected. Oh Dear!
However he successfully claimed £220 for two crystal bowls. His excuse was that he claimed suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder.Well I never! (2)
Then the saga of Paul Goggins, Labour’s, Northern Ireland Minister, who allowed Chris Bain the Director of the Catholic Aid Charity, Cafod to live rent free in his London ‘second’ home paid for by tax payers.(3)
Then Goggins paid Bain in February 2008, £3,829 for the installation of a new kitchen, to Bain’s brother Don, whose wife said that while her husband ‘knows how to fit a kitchen’, he was a taxi driver! Hilarious!
In the process Goggins claimed £45,000 in expenses and never told the Fees Office that he shared a flat. He also claimed £600 a month mortgage interest, council tax, and utility bills.
Some results of dozens of false claims:
Five MPs were convicted and gaoled, along with two Peers, the Lords Taylor and Hanningfield.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown as well Social Democrat Leader, Clegg repaid some expenses.
Hazel Blears ostentatiously held up a cheque for £13,000 which she said was repaying profit on ‘flipping’, which she did twice. Douglas Hogg, son of former Lord Chancellor, Lord Hailsham, didn’t stand again.
One who quietly re-paid was David Tredinnick, Tory MP for Bosworth, who claimed £755.33 on Solarfire V Software, as he was interested in astrology & complementary science.
Health Minister, Philip Hope agreed to repay £41,709 on a second home.
(1) Morley, blaming it on depression was sent down for 16 months on 20th May for mis-claiming £31,000 the largest of the false-accounting claims. He was the first to lose the Right Honourable title since Edgar Seyer in 1921.
(2) Daily Telegraph 17.10. 2009.
(3) Goggins had sat on the board of Cafod until June 2003 and was Charities Minister in 2005-06, when the size of Cafod’s Government Grant rose by nearly a third to £5.7m.
It dropped by a fifth the following year when Goggins moved on. He said ‘I do not have an extravagant lifestyle but I do have reasonable standards’.
Ref; Daily Telegraph and Magazine. 8.5.2009 and after.
Ref: wikipedia.org.uk_parliament_expenses/Pic Image.
Ref: Uk Parliament Allowances Pub. 18.6.2009. 2004-8.