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First cheques, now jobs

Nick Robinson | 12:15 UK time, Thursday, 14 May 2009

First they wrote cheques; now they're beginning to pay with their jobs.

morley and mackayAndrew MacKay has resigned as David Cameron's parliamentary aide after admitting that the taxpayer is paying for both his homes. He was able to double-dip into the public purse because he's married to another Conservative MP, Julie Kirkbride. She claimed for one home; he claimed for another.

This means that all eyes are now on how Gordon Brown handles the case of the former minister Elliot Morley. No-one can claim that his allowances were within the rules.

He claimed £800 a month for 20 months for a mortgage he no longer had. The word last night from Labour sources was that he had made a mistake and that he had done the right thing by rectifying it. The tone today is markedly different.

There is now, I should note, a growing gulf between party leaders and their MPs. Tories are complaining to me about what one calls "summary mob justice" in which all are judged guilty so that the good are punished while the real bad guys escape lightly.

Voluntary repayments by the shadow cabinet of legitimate claims for furniture, repair works or gardening were repaid, I was told, as "the price of David Cameron's press release". The tariff for extravagance has been set high. What will be the tariff for flagrant breach of the rules?

Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.




    A brilliant wheeze while it was under wraps, rather embarrassing for them both now it's in the open. Creative Accounting seems to be an MP's second job these day.

    We really need a General Election to clear out the stables; or is it pigsty?




  • Comment number 2.

    When activity such as this is explained away with the line 'I made a mistake' I really think we need to know more about the details of this 'mistake'. It is easy to say it was a mistake, hard to understand how such a mistake can be made. And if the hierarchy accepts these 'mistakes' then we're back to square one where dodgy behaviour is sort of glossed over with an apology and a cheque. I think technically, if you commit an offence, saying sorry and offering to repay the money, while mitigating the punishment, does not absolve the activity. Remember: Community Payback!

  • Comment number 3.

    After last night's edition of Newsnight with 'Taxpayer Telethon' we are now onto the 'Walk Of Shame' from the Weakest Link ??

  • Comment number 4.

    'flagrant breach of the rules'

    You just can't stop spinning for NuLiebour, can you?

    Call it fraud or theft!

  • Comment number 5.

    Nick,

    You are wrong. All eyes are now on Ed Balls.

  • Comment number 6.

    "What will be the tariff for flagrant breach of the rules?"

    How about criminal prosecution for misappropriation of public funds?

    Sounds appropriate for a) doing the aforementioned and b) bringing the House into disrepute.

    After all these MPs do want their glam life style as if they were professional footballers, and ins't that pretty much how the F.A. would deal with similar transgressors of their rules?

    Heavens, that's what it's coming to, isn't it? Footballers can claim the moral high-ground over elected members of the House of Commons!

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    In any new rules that are made it must be stated that fraudulent claims like the ones mentioned above should result in a by election.

    He had done the right thing by rectifying it. ???? Jail time is the right thing it is fraud please report it as such repaying money is the only admission of guilt needed.

    Some months ago the Government rightly or wrongly were suggesting that benefit claimants should be subject to lie detector tests,and that if they had nothing to hide they had nothing to fear.

    Perhaps we could do the same with MP's expenses claims.

  • Comment number 9.

    Why don't I share the whole country's outrage at this expenses affair? I just can't make myself care that much, because I still think our politicians are comparatively uncorrupt. And to further destroy my street cred, I'd like to say that to be asked to repay expenses claims that were explicitly put before, and approved by, the committee - as is the case with John Maples - runs counter to natural justice.

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    Don't allow these ever increasingly scandalous cases move the spotlight away from earlier ones. This thing is snowballing so quickly that we risk missing or forgetting about some of the the earlier stuff. I hope someone is keeping tabs on who done what, and planning to revist each and every one to find out 'what happened next'? There must be an excellent opportunity for an in-depth week-long series of Panorama specials disking out justice for the people!

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    Any news on the gulf between Labour MPs and their leadership, Nick.

    I would hate to accuse you again of selective reporting.

    By the way, the tariff for extravagance seems to be repayment.

    As MPs are desperate to say in every case that they haven't "broken the rules", despite the dreadful nature of some of their expense claims, what on earth is going to constitute a "flagrant breach".

    Mr Morley claims it was "just a mistake" that he claimed on a property that didn't have a mortgage.

    I would imagine that almost every taxpayer in the country would know exactly when they had paid off their particular mortgage because it is such a large part of their reducing disposable income.

    It just doesn't wash.





    Not a particularily tough tariff, in my view.

  • Comment number 15.

    Are there any MPs who don't have their snouts in the trough to some degree?

    I don't know...but what I do know is this Parliament is finished as an assembly that commands any respect whatsoever.

    What is needed now is an immediate General Election. It will then be down to each constituency to determine whether its sitting MP has the moral qualities to be re-selected.

    This process will help cleanse Parliament of the corruption that permeates it.

  • Comment number 16.

    If you are feeling a growing gulf between MP's and their leaders then it is nothing in comparison with the gulf between the voters and the Westminster village. They can jump around having a tantrum for all they like but unless they sort out their own pile of dung now then they are not going to get re-ellected.

    Following on, I wonder how long this anger from the voter takes to turn on government at a more local level ?

  • Comment number 17.

    No mention of the Labour Lord's either Nick

    Will Brown do what Cameron did to Conway?

    After all DC has set the agenda so far, and Brown isn't even trying to play catch up

    Will the Homes Secretary be obliged to repay her allowances?

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    Nick,

    "Tories are complaining to me about what one calls "summary mob justice" in which all are judged guilty so that the good are punished while the real bad guys escape lightly. "

    I think that some immediate and uncompromising assessment of the claims made is required. The "within the rules" or "legitimately claimed" lines simply aren't being acceptd by the electorate. they really do have to go that bit further now to try and regain some sort of credibility over this. "Summary mob justice" ? What are they expecting ? The public have had enough of reviews and promises of something happening later and forgotten about. We need action now ! This must be a real culture shock to all MPs, and those complaining really do need wake up to the full implications fo whats happening and get in the game quickly while they are still allowed to play !

    One thing I think will change as a result is that the gravy train of the next 12 months, probably seen by many Labour MPs as their last great hurrah before losing their seats, has probably been well and truely stopped.

  • Comment number 20.

    "This means that all eyes are now on how Gordon Brown handles the case of the former minister Elliot Morley. No-one can claim that his allowances were within the rules."

    I think all eyes are now on Mr+Mrs Balls, actually, Nick.

    I'm looking forward to seeing what their situation was, as they were also married and also both MPs.

  • Comment number 21.

    If Cameron was PM during this expenses debacle it would have been handled far more professionally, fairly and resolutely.

    Brown's dilly-dallying just draws the process out, muddies the waters and distracts parliament from doing real work. Shame on NuLab.

  • Comment number 22.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 23.

    Would it not be appropriate now for a new kind of "self-denying ordinance" whereby this parliament is dissolved and a new one elected but sitting members cannot stand for the new parliament? This may be unfair to honest members but would removed the stench of sleaze and posible corruption that hangs in the minds of the electorate. The new parliament would devote itself to cleaning out the Augean stables. After the new parliament has sat for, say two years, the old members could stand again.

  • Comment number 24.

    This recurring line of "presented to and approved by the Fees Office" warrants some consideration, doesn't it?

    Presumably, the officers of the Fees Office are civil servants and therefore, ultimately, their part in all of this would be the responsiblity of the Head of the Civil Service, Sir Gus O'Donnell, wouldn't it?

    Perhaps, he needs to ensure a significant review of the functioning and management (rather than political leadership) of that section. Perhaps a fundamental service review.

    Or, am I wrong about the responsibility?

  • Comment number 25.

    If only the labour troughers had enough integrity to do this country a favour and resign too, funnily enough I wont hold my breath....

    It still amazes me that the only thing this government can do with any degree of competency is fleece us taxpayers. I await the glorious election day when we can finally ram the message into Crash's empty skull how despised this government of zero talents truly is.

  • Comment number 26.

    Looking on the bright side...this might just significantly increase voter participation in the forthcoming elections! (Euro/local and general elections) ;-)

  • Comment number 27.

    See, this is what happens when one engages in hysterical and opportunistic puritanism.

    Yes, the system needs huge reform, and quickly. But this sort of rather high-handed attitude ends up creating more problems than it solves.

  • Comment number 28.

    What is absolutely amazing still is that the 1 man who held and still holds the position of overseeing this fiasco is still in his job.ie the speaker of the house.There is no doubt that reading between the lines and listening to the defenses put forward by the MP's that none of this was seen to be out of the ordinary. There is a system that they were encouraged to maximise, basically that is there defense. If this is the case then no wonder they are now behind the scenes getting upset as you state Nick.
    Perhaps this is why the speaker who was obviously out of his depth from day 1 was tolerated by the house and is now being told to get out. Ie.Thier union rep has failed them.!!!

  • Comment number 29.

    Hmm confirmation as if any were needed that Cameron is leading the agenda on this.

    Sharpened your pencil for when details of Balls and Cooper are revealed Nick ?

  • Comment number 30.


    What I would welcome is for the intensity of all of this to pass then decide what to do.
    On the whole I would much rather keep an MP who has admitted making mistakes than getting rid of someone in these circumstances.


  • Comment number 31.

    What about the other married couples in parliament?

  • Comment number 32.

    is this (finally) an end to claiming for Moats then? ...

  • Comment number 33.


    You are being far too nice, Nick and I would suggest not reflecting the public mood.

    Who cares what Tories are complaining to you about or what "Labour sources" say.

    But as you rightly point out, the whole squalid mess could turn even more sour as the days drag on and it is now a question of how the respective leaders deal with it.

    McKay is a Tory disgrace sure but isn't New Labour's Morley potentially politically far more damaging?

    http://theorangepartyblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/rotten-claims-claim-first-scalps.html


  • Comment number 34.

    Extremely reluctant to tar all with the same brush, and worried about the possible backlash. But two points: 1. clearly there are a number who were shamelessly on the take, and many more whose actions are morally and ethically dubious. 2. Can they please stop referring to these issues as "mistakes". For any human being less humble than an MP, their actions would certainly earn them the sack, and probably a jail sentence. You do not claim things on expenses "by mistake". It's something that can only be done knowingly. These actions are deliberate, and it's time a few more in Westminster said so. Cut the crap.

  • Comment number 35.

    This could be solved once and for all by providing a purpose built accomodation facility.

    No more mortgage, no more renovation bills, patio sets, light bulbs, tv license etc.

    I dare say that the typical extravagant demands would be made in the specification of such a building by the MP's in question. Look at the MSP's on Holyrood.

    Really these public servants should be subjected to the same scrutiny as evetone working in private industry....... Sarbanes-Oxley!?

  • Comment number 36.

    This is proves Gordon Brown is a lame duck and has no power in the labour party. Hazel Blears and Jacqui Smith should have been fired straight away. After the next general election the current Labour party will no longer exist.

  • Comment number 37.


    Except they have lost their jobs have they ? They are still able to draw their salary and expenses as an MP along with their more than generous pension scheme.

    I dont want them to pay back the money they stole from me, say sorry and resign from their ego trip as PPS to someone important or minister for funny walks.

    I want them out of office, their behaviour is morally bankrupt and they have no moral right to lead our political elite. Take a walk gents, go out and apply your bankrupt morality in another sphere of endeavour you are not wanted here no more.

    What we want are hard working MPs who serve their constituents honestly and well with the strength of character to only claim for what they absolutely have too.

  • Comment number 38.

    The Parliamentary 'tribe' of 600 or so MPs has only itself to blame for this mess. They choose to operate as an exclusive club. They have failed to regulate themselves properly and now the club is paying the price. I can't get too worked up about the 'innocent' MPs being tarred with the same brush as the bad apples. The club has had ample opportunity to get its house in order and has been found wanting, time and again. They've looked after themselves during the good times; now they must fall together in the bad times.

    Dissolve Parliament. Throw the challenge back to constituency parties to clean up their elected and prospective candidates; flush out the spongers. Encourage citizens to stand as independents in Martin Bell fashion. Call a General Election. And let's see Parliament working for the people again (and not for Party Whips, senior political tyrants and spin doctors), holding the Government to account and re-establishing democracy in this country.

    If we don't do this soon, it'll only be a matter of time before history starts repeating itself; the Peasants' Revolt comes to mind.

    But what is really irritating about this is that the UK economy is going to hell in a handbasket whilst our politicians turn in on themselves in one almighty skin-saving exercise. If the politicians were losing control of the economy in the run up to the expenses scandal, they've good and truly lost it now. Guess who'll be paying the price (again)?

  • Comment number 39.

    All around westminister people are donning their hairshirts and apologising for mistakes madenot by themselves but by those nasty people in the fees office who forced them to take the money.I seem to have a vague memory of a political editor making a blanket statement that no MP had broken any rules so he will not be blogging about allowances/expenses.He must be the only person working in westminister who hasn't said the word sorry,I wonder if it was the fees office who told him no-one had broken any rules so his statement was not his fault.

  • Comment number 40.

    Nick, having listened to the respective pronouncements of Party leaders and "miscreant" MPs over the past few days, I am pretty sure that it is the leaders, particularly David Cameron and Nick Clegg, who are in touch with public opinion on this matter. (Gordon limps along behind them, copying what they do and say about 24 hours too late.) The MPs seem to have fallen victim to a sort of self-obsessed dependency culture (e.g. Ann Widdecombe's plaintive question yesterday about who would pay to repair her boiler if it blew up: she should ask her constituents how they manage in such circumstances!)

    I find it amusing that you now seem to be lining up with the grumbling MPs and showing sympathy for their case. I don't think your audience will be travelling there with you!

  • Comment number 41.

    If these people were normal everyday members of the public they would be facing dismissal from their jobs on grounds of gross misconduct and probably a criminal investigation for fraud and in the case of at least one minister tax evasion.

  • Comment number 42.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 43.

    One finds it very difficult to understand how someone can claim for mortgage interest for 18 months on a loan which has been repaid. At the very least, it demonstrates a cavalier attitude to claims for expenses, which looks to have been prevalent. Similarly, the tax implications of flipping. I assume that Hazel Blears will be levied penalties by the Revenue for failure to disclose.

    The coverage by the BBC does however not seem even-handed. The list of MP's not claiming expenses for labour included several making claims up to about £7,000. The conservative list was the "handful" making no claims at all. Similarly, the coverage of Hazel Blears, Elliott Morley and others has been less prominent than that given to the Gummer moles or the Hogg moat, which is not to justify the latter. The clear fact is that Cameron took quick decisive action, whilst Brown dithered, overstepped his rights as PM on Commons matters and wanted an enquiry. Clear evidence of time for a change.
    By the way, I am looking forward to publication by some enterprising paper of the salaries and expenses of the BBC, funded at considerable cost be a compulsory licence fee. Perhaps the politicians could then get their own back.

  • Comment number 44.

    Lets just call a General Election and have done with it. Let the public decide. Its probably fairer as the money they repay goes not back to the taxpayer but into the expenses coffer of the House of Commons.

  • Comment number 45.

    Given the propensity for Mr. Speaker Martin to contact the police I would suggest he calls in the Theft Squad to deal with Mr. Morley.

    I must confess to being largely amused by the expenses scandal but there are some blatant cases that go beyond a joke. The people at work are already sick of my joviality about moats, plugs and flipping houses. I have even forgiven Hazel Blears now she has paid the taxman as she is such a sweetie and you can't buy the enthusiasm she has for her politics.

    But how on earth can you forget you have paid off a mortgage which costs you GBP 800 a month? This has echoes of the Labour Deputy Leadership contest in which people forgot about all sorts of very useful sums. I think Peter Hain lost his job over it which sets the expectation of the standard penalty in my view.

    Working a rotten system is one thing, obtaining a pecuniary advantage is quite another.

  • Comment number 46.

    I am very surprised at the number of "genuine mistakes" which MPs claim to have made over their expenses. If thi sis an example of their collective administrative abilities, then many should be sacked simply because they appear unable to perform simple tasks with probity. Should the Oxford Dictionary revise its obviously erroneous definition of
    "mistake" as

    "A pathetic excuse used when working a scam and being found out"?

  • Comment number 47.

    With all this rhetoric about independent inquiries, and decisive action being taken, one can almost believe that they mean it ; until , you realise that in fact nothing is going to change, the rules will be suggested by an independent body, drawn from the great and good, the judiciary and the civil service,all of whom are propably also wallowing in the taxpayers' trough : and then, to add insult to the injury already done to the taxpayer, the very people who had their snouts in the trough are going to decide what they can and cannot have. Let's have a jury type body of taxpayers drawn by ballot annually to decide what our politicians are paid, and what they can claim as expences. This can be overseen by a judge or high ranking civil servant to give advice and guidance, but we, the people who employ these freeloaders must have the final say, not the politicians.

  • Comment number 48.

    THANK YOU HEATHER BROOKE...THANKYOU AGAIN!

  • Comment number 49.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 50.

    "There is now, I should note, a growing gulf between party leaders and their MPs. Tories are complaining to me about what one calls "summary mob justice" in which all are judged guilty so that the good are punished while the real bad guys escape lightly.

    Voluntary repayments by the shadow cabinet of legitimate claims for furniture, repair works or gardening were repaid, I was told, as "the price of David Cameron's press release". The tariff for extravagance has been set high. What will be the tariff for flagrant breach of the rules?"

    ===========

    A gulf usually has two sides otherwise it isn't a gulf.

    You have described one side of the gulf.....and then your posting ends.

    Are you going to update it and describe the other side of the gulf.


  • Comment number 51.

    I am off to phone benefit fraud hotline to grass up 600 or so cheats who appear to be taking taxpayers money they aren't entitled to.

    I think it may be a while before we here the sound of MPs from either side berating benfits cheats.

  • Comment number 52.

    Why must we also provide subsidised bars and canteens for over cash strapped politicians?
    Just where and when do they manage to spend their hard earned cash?

    Westminster canteens sell good freshly cooked food at a fraction of the real prices that tourists have to pay in nearby restaurants and bars.

    The best wine cellar in the world is inside the Houses of Parliament. No wonder that MPs loose touch with reality and the true cost of living when everything is provided at either subsidised prices or through their over generous expenses; either way, we, the electorate end up paying for them!

    I understand that many MPs have the habit of submitting a bulk food claim of £4,800 at the end of their financial year, which equates to 48 weeks at £100 per week. Now here is the real rub, they only attend Parliament for a maximum of 128 days, which is 25.6 weeks, according to my calculator, the maximum that they should claim (assuming that they attend from Monday to Friday) is £2,560! Are the fees office to close to MPs to turn a blind eye (to match the honourable MPs brass necks) to let this blatant fraud carry on unchecked?

  • Comment number 53.

    The ONLy thing that is not being talked about is a General Election. This parliament has lost the right to represent the people. It should be disolved and these MP's should seek a new mandate to represent us. Whatever happened to democracy

  • Comment number 54.

    If the majority of people accidentally claimed £16000 in expenses from their employer to which they were not entitled, would it not be considered to be either theft or fraud? Why should an MP be any different? I don't believe that some MP's have just broken the rules, they have potentially broken the law, and should be investigated, and prosecuted in the event the evidence backs this supposition.

    The fact that it has been paid back demonstrates an admission of guilt. And do we really want people running our country who don't notice an income equivalent to around 25% of their salary - how much money must have been wasted under their watch?

  • Comment number 55.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 56.

    There is no doubt that some have abused their expenses and that there should be a penalty to pay for real abuse of the system. However repaying the cash or the ultimate penalty of losing their job is biased towards the opposition parties, you only have to look at what many opposition MPs earn from their second, third and fourth jobs to realise that repaying thousands of pounds will mean a lot more to some than others.
    Maybe we should introduce a form of means testing when it comes to second home allowances, only subsidising living expenses for those who dont have the means to pay for London accommodation.
    Worse case if the rules are made too draconian is that the only people who stand for parliament will be those that can afford it.
    Its no wonder Mr Cameron is trying to take the high ground on repayments and dismissals, he and many in his party can afford to in more ways than one.

  • Comment number 57.

    Lets have a 5 mile walk of shame for all MP's, where the electorate are free to line up and pelt those wretched, underpaid, hardworking MP's with eggs, tomatoes and flour!

  • Comment number 58.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 59.

    My MP is one of those who has been fiddling their expenses. He cannot do his job anymore because the people in his constituency have no confidence in him. All MPs in his position must resign so we can have by-elections to elect new MPs.

  • Comment number 60.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 61.

    Sadly, it's inevitable that a few MPs who are not quite as bent as many of their colleagues will take some 'collateral damage'. Low as my opinion of the media is, I don't think that the BBC or the Telegraph can be blamed this time. The not quite as bent MPs should have spoken out when the had the chance, and although let's face it the scythe of reform will probably be ineffectually blunt, if they get caught up by it it's their own fault.

  • Comment number 62.

    He's not really paying with his job at all. He's still an MP! He's still eligible to claim expenses "according to the rules". I don't think people want "resignation of aides" - that's irrelevant. They want resignations of MPs, bye-elections, and better still a General Election. Let's let the people decide what degree of public employment these people get!

  • Comment number 63.

    Nick, remember when this all started and MPs told us these claims were within the rules. We all said "yeah because you make the rules! You'd have to work very hard to be *outside* of the rules!"

    With regard to Elliot Morley MP, his conduct has been outside of the rules.

    Claiming 800 quid a month for a year and a half is either extremely incompetent (think Jacqui Smith not bothering to check to make sure her form is porn-free times 100) or it is intentional (thinking it would never be picked up) and therefore criminal. Either way his constituents deserve far, far better. If he can't be bothered to check this form how can he be trusted to perform other matters?
    There *must* be a by-election.

  • Comment number 64.

    DC is playing his political cards with great skill at the moment.

    By being decisive and taking action now, he is showing up GB's indecision and dithering.

    GB had to play his Morley card this morning. He's still in a job.

    DC then plays his Mackay card. He's still an MP but he has lost his job as an aide (whatever that is).

    By forcing the resignation of Mackay and choosing one half of a husband and wife team, DC has put MP partnerships into the spotlight by getting them both to repay their expenses claim.

    What a finesse.

    By playing his Mackay and Kirkbride, GB is going to be compelled to play his Balls and Cooper card.

    Balls and Cooper. Cooper and Balls.

    Whichever way you look at it, it doesn't look good.

    Once their expenses are proved to be above board, then we can start looking into the manipulated education of MPs children whereby children are attending schools far far away from their main homes.

  • Comment number 65.

    The politicians still don't seem to understand their problem. Simply paying money back and saying "I'm sorry" only continues to irritate people.

    How can you be sorry when you consciously make a choice to submit a claim?

    I say we use these extra prisons for placing the MPs in. They are criminals who abused the public trust, defrauded the public and showed their utter contempt and disgust to the people who elected them by using public money to live in a way that no other person is allowed to.

    We should follow the lead of David Davis, all MPs should resign and run in a by-election fighting their campaign on expenses claims alone.

    The only way forward is for every MP to submit themselves to their constituents, let the people decide punishment, let the people decide justice. If I had a vote, I would vote for life sentences to all MPs who failed to meet criteria set down by the electorate. MPs and their relatives should all be branded, time for a new class structure, people on top, greedy MPs and their families at the bottom. Let them see what it's like to be at the bottom, that would be reform in my opinion.

  • Comment number 66.

    Bad attempt at diminishing Cameron's leadership on the issue Mr Robinson, again, now with the "mob justice" and "price for press release".

    The resignation and paybacks illustrate that so far Cameron has achieved more than issuing press releases or announcing reviews and committees. Ms Blears and the 41k guy seemed to start writing checks without and before any (public) encouragement by Brown.

  • Comment number 67.

    Actually, I do have some sympathy with the complaint about "summary mob justice" so that even the good MPs are judged guilty. The trouble is that the dishonest MPs give the other 1% a bad name.

  • Comment number 68.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 69.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 70.

    Nick - are there not some questions to be asked of the Fees Office in approving the mortgage payments for Elliot Morley without proof?

  • Comment number 71.

    When do we get to review Ed Balls' expenses please? Why have we heard nothing about this particular politician? Why, indeed, have we not heard his name mentioned amongst the journalist class? Is there something fishy going on here? Anybody know what's happening?

  • Comment number 72.

    Lets be quite clear, "I made a mistake" doesn't say sorry, and doesn't excuse the fact that there has been fraud. Plain and simple. It is not about just changing the rules. The simple fact is, we elect people to exercise judgement on our behalf, and to do so with the utmost integrity and honesty because without that there can be no authority on matters of law, order and morals. So, many, perhaps most, in parliament have refused to take this on board, at least publicly, though I am pretty sure they were privately well aware of their actions. This is why, in my view, this parliament and this government has wholly lost it's mandate. Really, Her Majesty should dissolve parliament and call a General Election because this is in danger of becoming a constitutional crisis.

  • Comment number 73.

    The real story here is not Elliot Morley, until we know more about the claim (i.e. start dates, end dates and just how on-going claims are renewed etc.), but Andrew MacKay and his MP wife - blatant playing of the rules or are they really expecting us to believe that they live apart?...

  • Comment number 74.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 75.

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  • Comment number 76.

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  • Comment number 77.

    Nick,

    Don`t be one bit apologetic about the good ones. They had the chance to blow the whistle on their collegues if they had wanted to. Turning a blind eye is no defence. We have had a culture of greed in the Westminster village and it will take years for MPs to live this down. Even after 12 years of the conservatives being ousted from office, the general public still associate them with the party of sleeze. How long do you think the same people are going to remember this Labour government for far worst things which has happened, "under their watch."

    I suspect there is far worse yet to come. It is more and more obvious as time goes bye as to why certian people at the heart of government wanted to kick all of this into the long grass until after the general election in 2010.

    What seems to have escaped much scrutiny at the moment are the clowns who signed these expenses off in the fees office. Just what were they thinking of? The bosses there need sacking, just like the banking CEOs were.

    Someone the other day, who used to be in government, suggested that parliament ought to be disolved as the only real way out of this mire.
    I think they may have a point.

  • Comment number 78.

    #23

    "Would it not be appropriate now for a new kind of "self-denying ordinance" whereby this parliament is dissolved and a new one elected but sitting members cannot stand for the new parliament?"

    That would be like a mother throwing the toddler out with the dirty bathwater after the child has a 'personal hygiene' accident, there are many honest MPs who would be (and are being) tarnished by this scandal for doing no wrong. What could be introduced, within this sitting or next (in other words, before Christmas) is a "Recall" system were an MP would have to face re-election by their local constituency if enough electors demand a by-election.

  • Comment number 79.

    While the BBC political editor, (that's you Nick in case you don't know) was describing the expenses row a few days ago as 'small beer' and 'not a resignation issue' and the vast majority on this blog and in the UK were disagreeing, who was right Nick???

  • Comment number 80.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 81.

    Can we have a new list? - MPs who HAVEN'T milked the system and conned us out of money. This will a) be shorter and therefore quicker to process, and b) allow us to find out which MPs are worth voting for and are in politics to represent US, not themselves.

  • Comment number 82.

    Lots of people are suggesting that MP's are housed together in a purpose built facility. Errr, Munich Olympics anyone? The security services would have kittens at the prospect of having to protect a large compound and a dream target for terrorists 24/7. Far better to have them spread out and living in the community.

    I personally have no objection to MP's from outside London and the Home Counties getting a second home allowance, PROVIDING that the second home is in London only and flipping is banned. I also have no issue with MP's being able to claim for items of furniture such as cookers, fridges and furniture, subject to a limit of less than GBP500 per item, on a one off basis to set themselves up in London, costs above this level should be met by the MP's themselves. Small items such as cutlery and cushion should be paid for by the MP's themselves. The rest will just have to commute with the rest of the great unwashed.

  • Comment number 83.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 84.

    Nick


    It would seem that you have been proved right. When these revelations first started being made, you responded with umbrage to the suggestion that half the Commons were expenses cheats.


    It now seems that half the Commons are not expenses cheats.

  • Comment number 85.

    Nick,
    Is it true that in 2007 under Camerons 'leadership' the Tories introduced a bill to exempt MPs from the Freedom of Information Act?
    If so, and knowing about the behaviour of his MPs, do you think he should resign? He is clearly not fit for purpose.Do you think the current government should be commended for passing legislation that has enabled the truth to come out?

  • Comment number 86.

    A letter in the DT from an accountant suggested that Hazel Blears paying back what she doesn't owe (??) would not be good enough as it would go as a credit on her HMRC account, rather than a payment for a debit. She would need to submit a tax return to make amends and face the consequences of that.

    Cameron appears to have captured the anger over this issue, and though it is a minor infringement as far as money is concerned, some of it is fraud and the most serious penalties should be applied. Cameron is making up where Blair failed, and trying to make things whiter than white. Brown on the other hand is in the bunker and not coming out till he absolutely has to!

  • Comment number 87.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 88.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 89.

    The (flying pigs and Swine Fever

    While this is not a poem, maybe I wish it were
    But I hear the phrase 'within the rules' wafting in the air.

    Should that mean that to other rules they should adhere
    Like 'No-one with a criminal record' should in the 'House' appear

    We have seen a 'Swine Fever' pandemic as the guilty rush to pay
    Their over the top expenses they reward themselves each day

    Those who volunteer to return those funds, to which they are unsure
    Are admitting fraud, or at least theft, for which they should face the law

    A stringent ban preventing them from holding any future public office
    Might just redress the balance, and pigs might fly...

  • Comment number 90.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 91.

    Nick, has Andrew Mackay's resignation upped the ante so that if, or when, the details of Mr & Mrs Balls expenses come out that if they have something similar that both must resign?

    The potential list of the Labour five who sought the injunction gets shorter and shorter. Surely when their names get announced and their expenses become clear they will be finished?

    As an aside I wonder whether Sir Menzies Campbell will turn up on Question Time tonight as advertised following his repayment yesterday?

    Second aside, if I may, traditionally long standing MP's that stand down normally get either a Knightood or in some cases a Peerage. I wonder how many honours have gone out of the window due to the Telegraph in the last seven days?


  • Comment number 92.

    Elliot Morley has been suspended from the Labour Party "until further notice" following allegations he claimed £16,000 for a non-existent mortgage.

  • Comment number 93.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 94.

    I am waiting with bated breath to hear the good news about that charming couple Yvette Cooper and Ed Balls. Not a word from them in the DT expose. They have been struck dumb in public. Does this mean that the lovely couple so whole heartedly devoted to the PM are clean? Or does the DT have something really horrendous on a couple so close to Gordon Brown to make a fitting finale?

  • Comment number 95.

    Call a General Election.

  • Comment number 96.

    #54

    "If the majority of people accidentally claimed 16000 in expenses from their employer to which they were not entitled, would it not be considered to be either theft or fraud?" [My emphasis]

    By your own words, no!

    On the other hand had they knowingly claimed for expenses from their employer to which they were not entitled that would indeed be attempted theft or fraud.

  • Comment number 97.

    Nick,

    How about an update now that Morley has been suspended from the Labour party

    Is it squeaky b*m time?

    Or are they trying to avoid the knock of Inspector Crapper of the Yard knocking on the doors of Westminster?

  • Comment number 98.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 99.

    @56. sadbloke

    What planet are you living on? The whole point of expenses is not remuneration, but to ensure that a person is not financially penalised by the unavoidable consequences of doing his/her job. This is in no way dependent on how much the person earns or whether that person is independently wealthy. This whole murky mess is a direct consequence of MPs "forgetting" or "mistaking" this very important principle.

    You seem to be suggesting that Tory MPs should have to subsidise their parliamentary activities because they are independently wealthy, whereas Labour MPs should get additional remuneration from parliament because they are not. This is one of the worst ideas I have ever heard.

  • Comment number 100.

    Cameron is certainly showing real leadership in this - Brown is not

    As others have pointed out, it would be interesting to hear about the details of other parliamentary married couples notably Mr & Mrs Balls.

    Looking more wider - this whole affarr just highlights how we need to reduce the cost of politics and make it more efficient. Since 1997 the UK has tacked on the Scottish & Welsh assemblies but with no reduction in the number of Westminster MP's. What DO all these people do everyday ?. A number of ideas have been floated - cutting the number fo Westminster MP's by 100 is the one that I have read that most appeals for starters.

    But we also need to look at exactly what our various layers of government do - evrything from district councils upwards. Also included in this should be Quangos which are just government by another method. The whole caboodle needs root and branch reform not only as a cost saving measure but also to improve speed and efficency in decision making.

 

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