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Heroes to zeroes?

Nick Robinson | 22:54 UK time, Thursday, 3 July 2008

MPs risk having turned themselves from heroes to zeroes in the space of just one afternoon.

Having won themselves plaudits for turning down recommended pay increases, they have voted to keep their expenses system - so much criticized - just as it was. In other words, those payments for new kitchens for MPs' second homes go on, as does the notorious "John Lewis list" which sets out maximum payments to purchase a new plasma chest of drawers for that home in London or the constituency.

Now plenty of MPs will point out that the recommended reforms of the system wouldn't have saved the public any money and indeed might have cost more, given the burden of external auditors coming to snoop their way in to MPs' affairs. The controversy that is burning tonight though is whether Gordon Brown's government behaves like every other previous government has done, keeping a hard line on MPs' pay while turning a blind eye to their allowances.

The Tories are claiming that ministers went AWOL during the expenses vote and that if they turned up, the new expenses system would have been passed and not rejected as it was. I'm going to be checking the voting list.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    I am simply amazed by this list of Ministers who voted to keep the present system. this is more important and significant than the jokey note by an order of magnitude (well, several orders of magnitude really). I simply do not understand how they can have so misread the public mind on this issue; and it really doesn't matter how many Tories voted with them.

    There is an old saying about turkeys not voting for Christmas, but in this case I think that these people have done just that. I am almost lost for words.

  • Comment number 2.

    Nick,

    Where do we see the full list?

    However on balance I think they are entitled to substantial expenses - as long as they are published. Afterall company directors have their expenses published....

  • Comment number 3.

    They know they only have two years to go.

    They are determined to milk what remains to the maximum possible extent.

    Labour claims to have had all their MPs expenses checked by 'external auditors' for several years now.

    I would like to know who those auditors are, and exactly what they have been saying about the Labour MPs 'choice' of which property qualifies for state subsidy...

    No one (not parliament nor HMRC) checks that MPs claimed expenses are incurred 'wholy, exclusively and necessarily' in connection with the execution of their parliamentry duties - this is taken on the word of the MPs themselves - and a number have already been proved unreliable.

    Now we know why MP's cant submit their taxes using the HMRC's online system - there would be too much risk of the public finding out the truth.

  • Comment number 4.

    This was a really bad decision.

    They had a golden opportunity to, as it were, fool us all by accepting a new deal which would have left them no worse off - instead it they've given the public the message that they prefer to feather their nests - literally at our expense.

    Don't get me wrong - I actually support MPs getting expenses for doing their jobs efficiently. Even the south-easterne MPs need somewhere local to stay when working (though london MPs with 2nd homes are probably taking the michael).

    But continuing a totally discredited scheme was complete and utter folly.

  • Comment number 5.

    Nick

    Surely it is well known that MP's agreement to go along with Gordon Brown's wishes (as Chancellor) on pay restraint in the past was linked to a nudge and wink, tacit understanding that the expenses rules were there to be utilised ?

    Hence the routine willingness to go well beyond the bounds of decency on expenses on the grounds that "It's within the rules."

    In the longer term, they would have been better to go for the lesser of the two evils and gone for a hgher pay settlement with greatly reduced and tightly policed expenses.

    Expenses have become a proxy for pay. All that has changed is that the covers have been pulled back on the expenses regime.

    The problem now is that putting the thing on a proper footing would entail acknowledging the reality of the past.

    To quote Sir Walter Scott :
    "Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive."

  • Comment number 6.

    Money is simply being transferred out of people's pockets straight into the pockets of MPs.

    The British public will not be taken for fools much longer.

  • Comment number 7.

    MPs aren't risking going from heroes to zeroes.

    The public don't regard MPs as heroes in the first place.

    So it's more like MPs going from zeroes to just about as beneath contempt as a human being can get.

    The real heroes are the British soldiers fighting in Iraq without the right equipment.

    The money to buy that equipment was spent on free £10,000 kitchens for fat cats in Westminster.

    MPs are a disgrace.

  • Comment number 8.

    They simply don't get it, do they? Lots of people have complaxe, demanding, jobs involving contact with thousands of others, long hours, the need to keep in touch with events, the need to travel hundreds of miles a year...and yet still they have a more onerous, less liberal. system of allowances than this!

    These guys claim to represent the public. Clearly they are not listening to them...

  • Comment number 9.

    I note that Jacqui Smith voted for keeping the current expenses system. My question is why should she and others who have homes in London provided for them by the taxpayer, also be entitled to an Additional Costs Allowance payment? Why was Gordon Brown paid over £17,000 in 2006-7 for the cost of staying away from home?

    As for the "John Lewis List", surely rather than buying a plasma TV or an Aga for an MP who may only be in office for a couple more years, the government should retain ownership of such items, so that after the election they can be passed on to the new batch.

    Finally, I notice that Shaun Woodward, who being married to a Sainsbury is so rich he doesn't claim his ministerial salary, still thinks the expenses are worth having. Does the taxpayer pay for his second butler?

  • Comment number 10.

    Don`t get mad get even.
    We have far more votes than them.
    Since they have disregarded the will of their constituents we can sack them.
    They can treat their vote to retain the current expenses format as severance pay.
    Write/email to your MP`s central office putting them on notice that at the next election if the MP remains as a candidate you will vote for another party.
    Don`t be put off by any sudden change of mind this bring to your MP to change their vote. They have ignored us and shown their true colours yesterday.Send them out into the real world.
    Just get your neighbours to add their signatures to your letter, to show how widespread our view is.

  • Comment number 11.

    The sooner you check the list the better and publish the names the better.

    Whilst not disagreeing that expenses are needed, they have now proved to us they feel they are above the people they serve.

    To hear some of the debate was like listing to 19th century Luddites about change, and to hear comments like "accountants chasing all over the country to check receipts " was proof that they are so out of touch its frighting. I thought their work place was parliament and they had offices in and around the green if not then what are they claiming for.

    The time has come for us all from all parties when we select our MPs to lay down the parameters of expenditure. The fees office has proved it can't controll or they them selves belive they above this.

  • Comment number 12.

    10 sidcupvoter

    I totally agree, although my local Labour MP with a majority will be out next time round.

    What the public doesn't seem to realise is that nothing matters more to an MP than leeping his/her job. And nothing matters more to a political party than keeping in power.

    In the current government, I would suggest that this applies to GB in total.

    The best way to get change is for voters to do exactly as you say. Write to the MPs and say you won't vote for them.

    Chatting with my sister-in-law who is a nurse and was very involved in protests about hospital closures in Gloucecester, I suggested that rather than just protest they got everyone in the city who felt strongly to write to their MP (Labour) saying they would vote for his opponent. I also said that they should get people with similar views to say the same across the country. Of course this only works for the party ifore so that can't take any chances.n government. The beauty of it is that the MP doesn't know if you voted for them be

    For labour this would have meant a double whammy and verys strong pressure to change their minds.

    I think the same should happen for Post Offices.

  • Comment number 13.

    A cynical man may think that

    the absence of the Prime Minister and the cabinet in showing leadership and voting against this principle

    the rumoured buying off of MPs with concessions over the 42 day terror limit

    Could they be linked!

  • Comment number 14.

    This is the list of government ministers who voted in favour of keeping the additional costs allowance for second homes included Shaun Woodward. Does he also receive an allowance for his butler?

    These ministers are either blatantly arrogant or honestly don't appreciate how aggrieved most of their constituents are likely to be.

    I'm not sure which is worse in a politician: greedy arrogance or ignorance of the people one represents...

    Let's hope - and work towards the day - that these over-paid 'public servants' don't have much opportunity to avail themselves of this taxpayer-funded largess.


    Liz Blackman
    Bob Blizzard
    Nick Brown -
    Andy Burnham - needs more mascara
    Alan Campbell
    Tony Cunningham
    Angela Eagle
    Maria Eagle
    Caroline Flint - to furnish her new Ego-Town house?
    Michael Foster
    Beverley Hughes
    Tessa Jowell -
    Thomas McAvoy
    Steve McCabe
    Siobhain McDonagh
    Tony McNulty
    Gillian Merron
    Mike O'Brien
    James Plaskitt
    Bridget Prentice
    Jacqui Smith
    Gerry Sutcliffe
    Mark Tami
    Gareth Thomas
    Derek Twigg
    Kitty Ussher
    Claire Ward
    Dave Watts
    Tom Watson
    Dave Watts
    Rosie Winterton
    Shaun Woodward - He of the butler
    Iain Wright

  • Comment number 15.

    If MPs are "effectively" self-employed, as they claim, then let them follow the same expenses rules as the rest of us. That is, we can claim expenses that are wholly and necessary for the execution of our duties, including travel, accommodation and subsistence when working away from our home office. However, if that work away from home is expected to last for more than 24 months in a single location then travel and subsistence can no longer be claimed.

    OK, so an MPs circumstances may be different and we can perhaps waive the 2-year rule but their expenses should still cover just that required to perform their duties which would not include buying and equipping a family home. This would not be considered a necessary expense by the Revenue if I tried to do it. Presumably, as the MP and their family have use of these second homes at any time and not just when they arein London or their constituency, wherever the second home is, they are declared on the MPs' P11D and taxed as a benefit in kind.

  • Comment number 16.

    MPs who come from far away constituencies obviously need accommodation near to Westminster.

    However, I am not aware of any other job that allows you to buy and furnish a second home on "expenses".

    Other people have to pay their mortgages and household bills out of their heavily taxed income.

    It also raises the question as to whether we need so many MPs. Scottish MPs can no longer vote on Scottish matters because those decisions are made at Holyrood by the MSPs. So what's the point of them?

  • Comment number 17.

    I don't believe anyone begrudges MPs recovering espense incurred "wholly, exclusively and necessarily" in connection with their parliamentry duties.

    The problem is that it is clear that MPs are claiming for things that are clearly not "wholly, exclusively and necessarily" related to their parliamentry duties.

    No amount of receipt checking will identfy such abuses - they can only be identified by proper investigation.

    If the parliamentry authorities don't investigate, and (for some unknown reason) HMRC don't investigate then who will?

    This is from the MPs expenses Green Book
    --
    It is your responsibility to satisfy yourself when you submit a claim, or authorise payments from your staffing allowance, that any expenditure claimed from the allowances has been wholly, exclusively and
    necessarily incurred for the purpose of performing your Parliamentary duties.
    --

    https://www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/HofCpsap.pdf
    --

  • Comment number 18.


    Jimbrant is simply amazed MPs voted to keep the present system.

    Im not.


    I liked the note at the end about Ministers being absent. Excellent.

    Cant wait to see the list of these great Ministers of conscience.




  • Comment number 19.

    Around 30 government ministers voted against the new proposals, some of them in the Cabinet.

    Since when were these members of the New Labour elite "heroes"?

  • Comment number 20.

    Everyone on that list ought to be in prison.

  • Comment number 21.

    1 Jimbrant

    I totally agree with you. I am at a loss to understand how the government have just scored an own goal on this one?

    Are they resigned to losing the next general election and just want the last few pennies rolling in the door? Are they out of touch? Are they arrogant? Is their morale so low they can't think straight?

    Gordon Brown could have used this vote as an opportunity to scope his vision for parliamentary reform. Instead the public get shown a Governmental-Two-fingers........

  • Comment number 22.

    What a shock.

    If people want a laugh (or just end up crying) - compare the number of MP's who were in the house to protect their new kitchens to the number of MP's who bothered to attend the debate on knife crime a few weeks ago at the same time.

    Rather telling and shows Westmisters actual concerns.

    Jacquie Smith: "Let them eat cake."

  • Comment number 23.

    I told you, I told you!

    Yesterday, on the "Expenses Dillema" thread, post #26, I said that the M.Ps. would vote for their own interests and not ours. And I have been proved right!

    Sceptic Max, your list of government ministers is impressive. However, most of those voting for their pockets were Labour M.Ps. How strange?

    Moreover, I understand from this mornings Times, that a labour M.P. shouted epithets ( a word that the moderator here, would not accept), at David Cameron. Thank goodness Cameron had the good sense to instruct his front bench to vote against the ammendment.

    Still, a few backwoodsmen among the tories - and there are a few - also voted for their own comforts. These poeple must be eradicated from our political life.

  • Comment number 24.

    What on earth are the MPs going to do when they lose their seats at the general election.

    If they are so hard up then will they go on to the dole. Who in their right mind would employ an MP, the expenses bill will bankrupt any well run employer.

    Why do they not choose a house, and then we, the taxpayer will buy it, but when they lose their seat, they can buy it at the current price, or the house is sold and any profit given to the exchequer.

    Surely, that is a simple solution to a problem of second homes.

  • Comment number 25.

    @#1

    Jimbrant do you need to borrow my sense of humour ;-)

    It is laughable how these turkeys have condemned themselves.
    I presume they all know the game is up and they are going to take what they can while they can.

    I believe the Turkeys in the USofA that escape slaughter at thanks giving go through much the same thought process and gobble up seed for all they are worth in the early weeks of December

  • Comment number 26.

    nick,
    are allowances taxed at the same rate as income?
    when an m.p purchases an item for their second home (from the so called "john lewis list") who pays the v.a.t?
    the people they represent are struggling to make ends meet, when will m.ps be debating that?
    is this another failure of leadership?

  • Comment number 27.

    If our son of the manse really wanted this bill to have come in he would have voted for the new system as he didn't vote he was happy to leave things as they are.If as I suspect he will now appear saying how disappointed he is by this result he could raise himself in the ratings by the simple act of sacking the 30+ ministers who voted to keep all the perks with no outside scrutiny.

  • Comment number 28.

    Does anyone think that Labour may be deliberately trying to damage the public's perception of politicians because they know a Tory government is going to get in next? They know the game is up alright and they're arming themselves for opposition.

  • Comment number 29.

    Wow. Stunned. Cannot believe these guys have misread the public mood so badly. Is it a case of knowing the game's up and therefore milking as much as they can before 2010, or are they just putting two fingers up to the electorate generally?

  • Comment number 30.

    Perhaps the PM lost his way en route to the voting lobby.

    Does the cost of a new moral compass qualify as a claimable expense ?

  • Comment number 31.

    Nick,

    RE: MP’s expenses vote

    Of the 172 MP’s who voted to keep the ‘John Lewis list’; 84% [146] were Labour MP’s. I’d have thought that this fact was worth a mention in the BBC's coverage of this vote.

    Now it could be argued that since this was a free vote, party affiliations were irrelevant. True – but the same rules didn't seem to apply to the abortion vote recently? If you remember, the BBC ran several stories both on-line and on-screen, talking about the high % of Tory MP’s who voted in favour of lowering the abortion limit and what this might mean if a future Conservative GVN was elected [sub-text: if you favour the status-quo on abortion you’d better vote Labour or Lib-Dem].

    Now I have no problem with the above – a Conservative GVN probably would lower the abortion limit. But from last night’s vote is also equally clear that if the public want to see an end to the ‘John Lewis List’ and according to most pollsters and political commentators – they do - then they should abandon the Labour party and either vote for the Lib Dems or the Tories.


  • Comment number 32.

    As well as putting money directly into their own deep pockets, this Nu-Labour government is now throwing more than £4 billion on two new giant aircraft carriers.

    Aircraft Carriers! I ask you, can anything be more absurd, and for the following reasons:

    1. By the time they are due to be completed(2014?), the Eurofighter planes for these carriers will not be ready for service. MOD are saying that obsolete Harriers will be used instead.

    2. The day of the carrier is now coming to a close, (same as the 12/10 gun warships day ended), Modern rockets and other new systems comming on tap, make theses and other big ships, prime and easy targets.

    The contracts for the carriers are really political. Providing jobs for 10,000 workers around the country. In other words, MAKE WORK, and totally useless for the economy.

    Whats worse, they will probably be future graves for our brave sailors.

  • Comment number 33.

    These charlatans are forever whining about how underpaid they are when compared to the private sector. Leaving aside the obvious question around performance measurements in this comparison, I cannot see how the refusal to accept an expense policy that is at least in line with the private sector squares with the idea that they should be paid more.

    Oh hang on, that's just it. They want the pay of the private sector but without the scrutiny, performance measurement or responsibility. Any MP who thinks (s)he could be paid more in the private sector is of course welcome to try.

    Disgusting - is there anyway we (the public) can force HMRC to apply their rules to MPs? It would be good to see a few of these loathsome creatures be prosecuted and (as stringing them up has unfortunately gone out of favour) jailed for what basically amounts to fraud.

  • Comment number 34.

    This is turning into a very messy divorce between MPs and the electorate: a highly unedifying spectacle.

    Do MPs not realise what a huge stick they are handing to lunatics from the fringe to beat them with at the next election?

    The Tories will gain massively in the next election, but in areas like the North East and other traditional Labour heartlands I expect scum like the BNP will be the ones to profit from a huge protest vote. Many communities could be in for very troubling times because of the utter greed shown by a few.

  • Comment number 35.

    John Lewis is my favourite store, whether for a sofa or a pair of socks. I do feel, however, that the label "John Lewis List" does this shop no favours. When one considers the wretched, tasteless,( to say the most harmless adjectives one can think of) characters, when referring to the MPs, it makes one cringe to think of having the same table, or heaven forbid bed, as say Teresa Jowell. John Lewis should issue a waiver denying all responsibility for this label.

  • Comment number 36.

    No sure why so many people are so surprised. The unspoken quid pro quo in exchange for MPs - including and maybe especially ministers - going along with GB's imposition of pay restraint in the past was the "understanding" that the expense rules were there to be used.

    The only element of surprise for me is that they didn't go for the other option - increase the pay above inflation and give up the expenses trough.

    Either option would be condemned - might as well go for the least dishonest one and get the remuneration package onto a proper and transparent basis.

    There is even a half respectable point to be made by pointing to what has happend to their pay levels over recent years by comparison to senior jobs in the public sector.

    They are even not very good at being greedy. After all, pay is pensionable whilst expenses are
    not and more than a few will be on pension after the next election.

  • Comment number 37.

    Funny how much effort the government put in when they wanted 42 days to make Prudence Brown look like a strong leader.

    Funny how little effort they put in when it comes of delivering value to the tax payer.

    A common theme with this team.

  • Comment number 38.

    Nick, I was delighted when the wage restraint was announced, I thought well that has set a good example to the rest of the country that we need to tighten our belts.
    I was bitterly disapointed with the vote on expenses and particularly disappointed in the amount of Labour MPs and ministers voting to retain the present system.
    I have always supported Gordon Brown and rightly so, but the utter stupidity of him not being in parliament and giving his ministers a dire warning about which way to vote yesterday was something I cant defend and I will not attempt too,I am afraid that this makes me believe that he needs a quick cabinet reshuffle and right to the top, this is more important than personalities this is whether he wants to protect the Labour movement as a whole. If heads must roll then so be it but the party is more important than any and I mean any single member.
    This is not to say that this lets the Tories of the hook as many of them voted to maintain the Status Quo and more vociferously, but Cameron is a master of grabbing opportunities and he did here ,he kept his front bench in order while Gordon was busy scoring an own goal.
    Parliament did itself no favours yesterday and we should all feel very disapointed.

  • Comment number 39.

    REF 32
    I could be sceptical but the announcement of the 4,000,000,000 aircraft carriers to be built on the clyde might just have something to do with a by-election that is coming up in glasgow.Added to the 2,700,000,000 that was spent trying to buy the crewe by-election it is not onlytheir expenses that need looking at,but how taxpayers money is being spent.

  • Comment number 40.

    Flugart # 32:

    The aircraft being contstructed for the new carriers is the JSF (Joint Strike Fighter) not the Eurofighter (Typhoon) which is already in service. Perhaps you would do well to read up properly on defence requirements before commenting so disdainfully about them.

  • Comment number 41.

    Nick,

    Hansard now has the full voting list up at:
    https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/cm080703/debtext/80703-0019.htm

    Could you please ask your webbies to put this up on the "voting list" link you refer to along with party, rank etc of these brave knights of the shires.

    I suggest that the public, and certainly readers of this blog, would be interested in 3 separate lists of:

    1. YES Voters (snouts in the trough)
    2. NO Voters (some decency left)
    3. ABSENT (McAvity and co)

    I was saddened to see that Clegg is on the McAvity list while Cable was amongst the NO voters along with Cameron.

    I do have to agree with most of UltraTron's #34 and to add that on the Celtic fringes it makes it all the more likely that the SNP and Plaid will have a field day at the next election, which at least will give the Tories some headaches over how to hold the Union together.

    Unless Clegg listens to his party grass roots, I'm afraid the LibDems are in danger of coming nowhere next time for much the same reasons as NuLabour, albeit on a lesser scale.

  • Comment number 42.

    MalcolmW2 #40

    Right on, and I apologise for my mistake regarding the JSF.

    This does not alter the fact that my premise is true, and that the carriers are a total waste of time and money.

  • Comment number 43.

    Marvellous, these incompetent, sticky fingered egomaniacs, have thrown the last crumbs of their credibility into the bin. This morning I heard one MP (not a minister), defending, (again) the idea that somehow they should be able to furnish, their, and I repeat 'their' second homes on us. What a clown, what arrogance, what complete detatchement from the normal working world most of us inhabit. Not one Labour minister, in a government that supposedly believes in 'prudence', had the guts to go on the radio and defend their greed. MPs seem to have an inexhaustable supply of hypocracy that they dish out time and time again to Joe and Jane public.

  • Comment number 44.

    38:

    Good Lord Grandantidote, I hate to say it, but a measured and well argued post. I'll have to sit down and have a cup of tea.

  • Comment number 45.

    there is dole scum, then there is MP scum below that.

    leaches and pigs the lot of them.

  • Comment number 46.

    #28 power_to_the_ppl

    You ask "Does anyone think that Labour may be deliberately trying to damage the public's perception of politicians because they know a Tory government is going to get in next?"

    I think it's more serious than that. Labour is now actively trying to wreck the economy by massive borrowing and reckless spending, designed to leave as much mess as possible for the next incoming government. They is no longer any pretence of doing what's right for the country.

    It seems that as Labour know they are shortly to be booted out, their MPs want to grab as much as they can for themselves whilst pursuing a policy of 'scorched earth'.

  • Comment number 47.

    I shall not castigate Gordon Brown any further for being absent from the vote (as usual with McCavity) when 33 of his ministers voted to maintain their ludicrous expenses system - as NuLabour supporters themselves seem to be doing a good job themselves.

    I shall even try to restrain myself from saying "we told you so".

    I shall also try not to gloat as the scales fall from their eyes and the disappointment wells up...

    I do, however, think them blinkered and foolish for ever supporting such a spineless ditherer and his shambolic government.

  • Comment number 48.

    The overarching reward system for MP's is fundamentally flawed.

    Namely a system which effectively allows MP's to set their own salaries, allowances, expenses and pensions.

    So I do not really see the point of even discussing the minutiae of what currently exist.

    We need to elect people who intend to be genuine 'public servants'.

    It is one of the few powers that are in our hands.

  • Comment number 49.

    The more important point is what did they do regarding their other expenses?

    The "additional costs" expenses are only about 10% of their total expenses; the rest haven't even been mentioned by the BBC.

    The true value of expenses is well over £150,000 per year, not taking into account other perks such as free holidays/flights that a lot of them get from their job.

    The actual financial annual gross income worth/equivalent of expenses per MP is more like £500,000; the £24,000 "additional expenses" aspect is a spurious smokescreen that the BBC is using to hide what really goes on.

  • Comment number 50.

    mightyangela #35

    A good point very well made.

  • Comment number 51.

    #38 Grandantidote (maybe)

    Come you now guys, who's stolen Grandantidote's log in details?!

    It's not big and it's not clever! ;o)

    All joking aside, I couldn't agree with you more. I truly don't know whether to laugh or cry.....

  • Comment number 52.

    38. grandantidote

    WOW.

    Labours error must be off the Richter Scale if you feel very disapointed.

    I fear that you may just be in for over a decade of disapointment though.




  • Comment number 53.

    @#38

    I will call an amnesty on going after your comments.

    You have been badly let down by the side the you support.

    I'm with #44 on this one.

    Normal hostilities will recomence at a future date but for now you have my sympathy.

    I look forward to some more reasoned debates in the future

  • Comment number 54.

    47. ScepticMax

    FANTASTIC

    Ive been busy this morning so didnt realise Brown didnt vote.

    Perhaps he intends to go in tomorrow morning and do it on his own.


  • Comment number 55.

    #38

    Grandantidote

    This vote did not go the way it went because GB was missing. GB was missing because he knew the way this vote would go.

    In any event, to the extent that he regrets the outcome, he is reaping what he largely sowed. See #36.

    This latest episode brings to mind Cherie's reference in her book to the Blairs having to re-do their household budget after GB had blocked their pay rise.

    Interesting that, of the the 21 Tories who voted for the status, apparently only one was voted in after 1997.The longer at the trough, the harder to give it up ?

    To the credit of the Lib Dems, it seems that not one voted for ongoing trough rights.

  • Comment number 56.

    The John Lewis list makes quite interesting reading, given that expenses for the rest of us are paid for only those items that are wholly, exclusively, and necessarily incurred in the performance of our jobs. If any of the rest of us were lucky enough to receive most of those items on expenses, we would incur a huge tax liability by doing so. Why should it be different for MPs?

    By voting for this ludicrously generous system, then have given proof, if proof were needed, that they really don't give a stuff about what the rest of us think of them.

  • Comment number 57.

    @#54
    ROFL

  • Comment number 58.

    #42 flugart: if you don't know the difference between the JSF and Typhoon I don't think your credentials are what one would look for in a defence expert.

  • Comment number 59.

    I'm ashamed to say that the 2 tory MPs either side of my constituency (ie mine, and the one next door) both voted to keep their expenses unaudited/large.

    Very damaging to them is that once most other people here find out; people here will readily switch from tory to libdem.

    Apparently all the libdems who did bother to vote, voted in favour of reform/transparency, so at the moment they've got my vote.

    Mind you, that doesn't distract me from the shameful labour voting; look at the tory list against the labour list and you'll see that it was overwhelmingly voted for by labour MPs even when you take into account the proportion of labour/tory MPs in the commons.

    I guess a previous posting was right; only 2 years to go until the labour MPs all lose their jobs/perks, so make hay while the sun shines.

  • Comment number 60.

    Nick

    It's bad enough that Broon ducked the vote, but looking at Hansard, there were 316 votes and 4 tellers. So what happened to the other 330 or so MPs including Broon? Maybe we should just assume that they were all in favour of keeping snouts firmly in the trough. I'll certainly be dropping my (Tory) MP a line to ask him why he felt he should skip an important debate. Mind you, having met him, he probably couldn't find his way to the chamber because he's already demonstrated that he doesn't know the boundaries of his constituency.

  • Comment number 61.

    Grandantidote well put, and all we need now is Trudi-Victoria to agree, then we have cracked it.

  • Comment number 62.

    14 ScepticMax:

    A great compilation. The list of shame.

  • Comment number 63.

    We need to move to direct democracy and can get rid of our overpaid, self-serving and unrepresentative MPs. We can use referendums to decide on Bills before parliment, private members bills can be replaced by Bills raised by petitions that get enough support.

    We can vote directly for our PM, who'll chose thier cabinet from the whole electorate rather than just MPs, while monthly meetings between the Cabinet, Mayors and Council Leaders will maintain local representation to the Government.

  • Comment number 64.

    Oh, and by the way Nick, when you do get the chance to collar any of those ministers on Sceptic's list of shame. Do us all a favour and pin them down on this issue. Don't mollycoddle them, if they won't do the decent thing and resign, at the very least you can get them to sweat a little on the box.

  • Comment number 65.

    I suggest that anyone who's not happy with how their MP voted, regardless of their party, sends their MP an email demanding to know why they voted the way that they did, and cc a copy to their party leader.

    The full list of who voted which way is available in various official places on the web.

    Tell them you're not happy, and if you feel strongly then also tell them that you won't vote for them in 2010.

  • Comment number 66.

    #54.

    His moral compass was broken and he got lost.

    On the question as to whether he was dithering on the question of expenses, he is not sure but he will come back with answer later....sometime.

  • Comment number 67.

    @32

    Wrong on number 2 as well.

    You still need a platform for force projection, be it JSF, UAV or a helicopter launch platform.

    Still we could have none, and then hey that'll work really well when we need to do something across the water.

  • Comment number 68.

    Gordons Browns Legacy of Prudent economic management:

    We are worse off now than we were 5 years ago

    The report said that monthly discretionary income for a typical household was now £772.79 - compared with £909.84 in 2003/04.

    And with higher interest rates and a growth in the amount people are borrowing to buy property - average monthly mortgage payments are just under £735 - 78% higher than in 2003/04.

    Other findings included:


    Fixed monthly household costs have risen by almost 45% since 2003/04

    Petrol costs for a typical household are £193.61 per month - 29.4% higher than in 2003/04

    Average monthly energy bills have risen by 110% since 2003/04 to £95.80.

    Council tax is up almost 25% since 2003/04 to £114.50 per month for a band D property.

    Defend this if you can.

  • Comment number 69.

    And one more reason why their actions yesterday were dispicable:


    Tax and spend

    The RAC claimed that income from motorists was broadly equal to spending on the road network in 1975, but the government now brought in four times as much from the motorist than it spent on the roads.

    It criticised the levy on road users being described as measures to protect the environment.

    Lets be clear about this no one minds if we get value for money but there hasn't been a Labour government in history that has delivered that.
    Their idealism is great their implementation stinks and does a diservice to those they claim to represent.

    It seems that even their core supporters have rumbled the diference between Labours aspirations and their ability

  • Comment number 70.

    Brown we know dithers but Cameeron should have made his party's position clear and had his MP's follow the party line.
    MP's are not self employed they are paid public servants and as such have to toe the new line on transparency.
    They are not CEO's as they try to assimilate but ordinary folk who have been sponsored by their party to represent their electorate and have made a great deal of money though press and TV and no doubt well paid consultancies.
    This all reeks like the end of the Major government. Brown and Cameron should both be ashamed of their ineffective leadership but for singularly different reasons.

  • Comment number 71.

    I can't help thinking that a fair number of those who voted for no change could well be finding out their true worth in the next couple of years, the Home Secretary included. That's if they don't all apply to be lobbyists.

  • Comment number 72.

    #38, well said.

    Aside from partisan biases, it is very sad for politics in the UK full stop.

  • Comment number 73.

    Is this not an indicator that many Labour MP's are demob happy.

    They know that many of them will be out of a job come the next election and that the publics' negative view of them won't change -so yee haa!

    The Tories would do their image a lot of good if they decided to voluntarily reject the John Lewis list. The Lib Dems are actually already credible but they should reject the list.

    I am surprised that the men in grey suits have not locked Gordon Brown in an office with a loaded gun. I assume they are waiting for the conference. Nobody, including senior Labour figures and donors, believes that he can win the next election.

    World Bank?

    Maybe even thats not a runner now.

  • Comment number 74.

    It is probable that many of the MP's that are currently in the House of Commons will be out-of-a-job after the General Election.

    However, sympathy will be in very short supply.

    As ex-MP Martin Bell told me ... I only served one term (four years) and even I get a small pension!

  • Comment number 75.

    The number of MPs who lacked the courage even to vote on this issue should not be forgotten.

    If they are not prepared to vote and so represent their constituents wishes in Parliment then they should resign. Brown included.

  • Comment number 76.

    68. Pot_Kettle

    Gordons Browns Legacy of Prudent economic management came about because he followed Ken Clarks spending plans for the first 2 years.

    He then introduced his own reforms, taxation got bolder and bolder, they spent way too much and saved zero.

    They know that they are about to be shown the door by the electorate. Hence they want as much booty from John Lewis as their sticky little fingers can carry.

    ENDEX



  • Comment number 77.

    I watched the expenses debate on Parliament TV and saw my Windsor MP, Mr Adam Afriyie, sitting in the second row of the Opposition benches. But when I checked Hansard this morning he had not bothered to vote.
    This raises the question of how many other MPs were present, but decided not to vote so that the existing disgraceful allowance system could continue unchecked ?
    Gordon Brown claims he didn't bother to vote because he knew the majority of MPs opposed any change, but it looks to me like this was a put up job with MPs voting for pay restraint while simultaneously increasing their tax free allowances.
    Snouts in the trough, AGAIN !

  • Comment number 78.

    When were they heroes?

    From corrupt and devious zeroes to blatantly corrupt and devious zeroes doesn't have the same ring, its true.

    How long are we going to put up with our MPs?

    We need a zero turnout campaign for the next election - noone to vote at all until they bring out some decent candidates rather than the incompetent and arrogant crew we've had for so long.

  • Comment number 79.

    #70

    You deflect attention away from the PM's no-show by suggesting that "Cameeron should have made his party's position clear and had his MP's follow the party line".

    Check the voting lists and you'll find that on the whole, Cameron's MP's not only followed his advice but also his lead [NB: Cameron excericised leadership on the issue and actually voted for reforn himself].

    As for his shadow cabinet, only one very minor member broke ranks and voted for the status-quo, compared with 33 members of Brown's cabinet (inc. the Home secretary). As a whole 84% of the MP's who voted for the 'John Lewis' list were LABOUR!

    So Robert, how is this vote Cameron's fault?

    Moreover, full marks to the Lib Dems. Not one of their MP's supported the status-quo.

  • Comment number 80.

    Nick, any report that my support for labour is dead has been greatly exagerated,

  • Comment number 81.

    I see the Wintertons voted to oppose the reform. Imagine being a Labour minister and going into the lobbies with them. I am still shell-shocked.

    At least Brown has a decent excuse for not voting - the Whips knew they were going to lose, so he didn't waste his time when he had a lot to do before going off to the next G8. Not that that will satisfy the Brown Outers on here of course.

  • Comment number 82.

    Well, i'm absolutely dismayed by yesterdays vote! How can the MP's responsible be so out of touch?

    I have checked the voting record of my own MP (Sarah McCarthy-Fry of Portsmouth North), and am further dismayed to see she voted against the reform. I have just written to her to ask for an explanation, as without a good one, I shall actively work to encourage foks to remove her from office come the next chance at the polls.

    I suggest all those that are equally appalled by their own MP's voting, should do the same.

  • Comment number 83.

    Oink, Oink, snuffle, grunt, oink, more, gobble gobble,oink, oink, grunt, mmmm lots a money, sod the proletariat we're alright jack. What a disgrace.

    No reasonable employer would begrudge paying reasonable out of pocket expenses or relocation cost to compensate an employee having to move or work from a satellite location. I believe most MP's do a good job and should be compensated for sensible/justified expediture. However, expenses should be subject to proper approval and have an audit trail.

    I urge this lot to revisit this and put in place policies on expenses which are proper. God knows what the general public must think of them. Its a shameful situation, I know what I think but its best not to print it.

  • Comment number 84.


    Lets face it, these people are politicians. Everyone one knows they aren't saints. and are never likely to be whoever is in power. Not even the Conservatives. This kind of thing is only to be expected.

    They voted in their own self interest. I have Just had a quick look at the list of MPs who voted against the change of expenses and many of them are from the North of England, Scotland and Wales. Their expenses are greater than the most pf the Conservatives. who mainly live in the South of England. It was in many of the Conservatives best interest to have a pay increase. Quite a few conservatives on Nicks list though.

    We hear about the people who abuse the expenses system because thats what news does. We don't hear about MPs who use their expenses responsibly. The scandals were exposed and damaged the people responsible. Which is a good thing.

  • Comment number 85.

    Can we call in the yanks to invade us and force a change of leadership? They did it a few years ago remember.

    (sniggers) I said "leadership", but I was thinking of Gordon Brown - oh the irony

  • Comment number 86.

    Grandantidote I repeat your 38 post in full so there can be no mistake whatsoever and posters do not have to race back to the post I mention. I fully respect your statement and I quote "I was bitterly disapointed with the vote on expenses and particularly disappointed in the amount of Labour MPs and ministers voting to retain the present system" I thought that was a brave stement to say the very least.
    then you say say and I quote " This is not to say that this lets the Tories of the hook as many of them voted to maintain the Status Quo"
    Dis they , most? 26? I do believe (or the normal scoundrels as we have too but 'widdy' yes I am surprised but still you live and learn). Now let me see aginst how many labour MP's (besides ministers thet you did mention, accepted no argument on that one with you) . You know they went against us the voter who has to cover every single penny with a receipt (me inclued). Mu ccoker broke last year had to buy another one but could not really afford it. It was either that or a 20quid Bar-b-que. Anyway I digress I ask again what do these Nu labour idiots have to do to get your wrath. I suspect after my last nights post it is not drowing kittens so maybe its nuclear war.
    With kind regards and respect

    Your Full Post below
    38. At 11:47am on 04 Jul 2008, grandantidote wrote:
    Nick, I was delighted when the wage restraint was announced, I thought well that has set a good example to the rest of the country that we need to tighten our belts.
    I was bitterly disapointed with the vote on expenses and particularly disappointed in the amount of Labour MPs and ministers voting to retain the present system.
    I have always supported Gordon Brown and rightly so, but the utter stupidity of him not being in parliament and giving his ministers a dire warning about which way to vote yesterday was something I cant defend and I will not attempt too,I am afraid that this makes me believe that he needs a quick cabinet reshuffle and right to the top, this is more important than personalities this is whether he wants to protect the Labour movement as a whole. If heads must roll then so be it but the party is more important than any and I mean any single member.
    This is not to say that this lets the Tories of the hook as many of them voted to maintain the Status Quo and more vociferously, but Cameron is a master of grabbing opportunities and he did here ,he kept his front bench in order while Gordon was busy scoring an own goal.
    Parliament did itself no favours yesterday and we should all feel very disapointed.

  • Comment number 87.

    Apologies about not quite completing post 86 its just that to type a keyboard after falling under the old park bench (tripped up over the plug into the lampost) but after reading Grandantidotes post (mentioned in my own post ..well ...say no more.)
    like a previous poster mentioned "sympathy offered normal hostilties will be resumed" (funny never seen a statement as nice as that from a Nu lab apologist but still)
    Kind regards
    The Baron Von Ripwinkel (very slightly off the parkbench)

    PS I was present during two ship builds in Govan(Ok not a lot) but the workers there are really great shipbuilders. However ,would it just be lovely that having got the signature on the "proverbial dotted " they voted SNP anyway just for the shear hell of it hey its only a by election lasting no more than 18 months. Expenses are not everything to having fun you know.

  • Comment number 88.

    Risk implies that there was some chance that they would actually take some sort of reduction on the chin.

    The only thing on their chins is more gravy!

    Having read this blog and the comments over the second half of this week, I am astonished that anyone expected, or even seriously hoped for, anything different.

    As for the comments regarding their pay v. other highly paid people in this country, again, the blog betrays a woeful optimism at best, and a lamentable inability to understand basic economics at worse.

    The top directors do get paid a huge amount; it is sometimes difficult to understand how this is justified, yet these people, often by their own initiative, do create wealth for others, and they are, annually at least, subject to review by the shareholders unless they are risking their own money. Their pensions are paid for out of that current remuneration package.

    MPs do only what someone else tells them to do, they create very little, are subject to external review only every five years, have a massive hidden cost via their allowances and pensions, pensions in particular are a cost we bear for years after these self serving parasites have finally been ejected from the House of Commons. [ Now there is an oxymoron. ]

    In jobs in business or local government, the pressure from a large number of applicants drives down the remuneration package, yet at every election we see many people chasing one MP job, and yet the market is not allowed to operate to reduce the remunerations paid to the eventual postholder.

    So let us hear no more bleating from these MP(arasite)s about how little they are paid. They operate using less freedom of choice in what they do than most lower ranked council workers, so that is what to pay them.

  • Comment number 89.

    46. At 12:50pm on 04 Jul 2008, DistantTraveller wrote:

    ..."Labour is now actively trying to wreck the economy by massive borrowing and reckless spending, designed to leave as much mess as possible for the next incoming government. They is no longer any pretence of doing what's right for the country."...

    If you are being serious, you need help, sir! You haven't journeyed from Mars, have you?

  • Comment number 90.

    It seems that the Committee on Standards in Public Life are said to be considering an enquiry into MPs expenses.

    What's the point? So they come up with recommedtations ? And - - ?

    What's needed here is for Brown, Cameron and Clegg to bite the bullet and act in concert in the public interest and for the good of politics to come up with a solution which they jointly promote and ruthlessly impose on their troops.

    The best thing they can do is to bite the bullet and come clean by admitting that the restraint shown by MPs on pay since 1997 has been bogus, achieved only by turning a blind eye to members taking advantage of the wide open rules on expenses.

    If that requires telling us that it will take an above inflation pay increase to put it right whether we like it or not, so be it - as long as the true increase is much less due to corresponding savings from the expenses regime being sorted.

    If it means telling MPs the game is up on expenses, whether they like it or not - so be it.

    This is a cross-party culture change issue and we couldn't half be doing with our so called leaders demonstrating a bit of leadership.

    What is wrong with these people ?

  • Comment number 91.

    Nick,

    Thanks for getting the voting list link updated with names and parties of the YES lobby.

    I realise that there's quite a bit of work to do, but as requested in my #41, I'm sure I'm not the only one who would appreciate similar lists of the NO and McAvity lobbies.

    Apologies for nagging if that's already in the pipeline.

  • Comment number 92.

    Having just read post 86, these MPs did in fact take us to war.

    They voted for it.

    Because they were told to vote for it. But their job, as backbenchers is to scrutinise the work of the executive, the ministers.

    OK, it is not a nuclear war, (yet,) but hundreds of us have died and the rest of us have had our basic liberties taken away.

    If I have someone scrutinising the executive on my behalf, I would be happier to pay something closer to the huge cost of the remuneration package, if that job was properly done. We are not safer, ( their own research made that clear) we are still being killed, and the MPs, the checkers, allowed it all to happen because they are spineless and just do as they are told by the executive. By NOT doing their job, they should be sacked, rather than be allowed to pick up ANY salary.

    It is, after all, what they would all insist upon for the rest of us, were we not to do our job.

  • Comment number 93.

    Re #90 from Only jocking:
    "This is a cross-party culture change issue and we couldn't half be doing with our so called leaders demonstrating a bit of leadership."

    Cameron did by voting NO and ensuring his front bench did likewise.

    Brown did his usual McAvity by not voting (or as #54 from ScepticMax so aptly puts it: "Perhaps he intends to go in tomorrow morning and do it on his own") while most of his ministers voted YES.

    Sadly from my point of view Clegg had a leadership failure and also didn't vote while Cable and most of the LibDems did the right thing and voted NO. At least not one LibDem voted YES.

    I'd say that overall it's pretty clear where the leadership stands (or dithers).

    The new epithet for Labour MPs should be "The Brown envelope brigade".

  • Comment number 94.

    Re #93 from Brownedov

    By leadership I don't mean how, or if, the leaders vote. I mean them showing initiative and coming up with a solution which they jointly ask the House to accept

    As soon as the chamber voted to restrict pay, there was a flying pay alert attached to any prospect of the vote to reform expenses.

    Brown knew that, Cameron knew that and Clegg knew that. Those who abstained knew that, those who voted for restraint knew that.

    The main onus is on Brown as PM and, yes, he has failed to rise to the challenge. However, Cameron and Clegg need to do better than sit back and criticise.

    This is a damaging mess but one which requires only firmness of purpose to resolve - rocket scientists need not apply.

    As I said before - what is wrong with these people ?

  • Comment number 95.

    Yet again our elected representatives have shot themselves in the foot. They have treated the electorate with utter contempt by rejecting the reforms to their expences.

    Members of this blog may like to consider a slightly different approach to this mess. Why not let them have these expences, the London flats paid for by the exchequer and fittings from the John Lewis list BUT, and it is a very big but, everything returns to the exchequer when they leave office. The flat returns, the flat screen tele returns in fact everything that has a value !!!!

    In this way, they can live in the style to which they feel is appropriate, and we will benefit from the eventual appreciation of the property when the credit crunch is over.

  • Comment number 96.

    Due to economic difficulties is it now time to reduce the number of MPs in line with what is happening in the real world, starting with all these greedy pigs!

  • Comment number 97.

    Re #94 from Only jocking: "By leadership I don't mean how, or if, the leaders vote. I mean them showing initiative and coming up with a solution which they jointly ask the House to accept
    .....
    The main onus is on Brown as PM and, yes, he has failed to rise to the challenge. However, Cameron and Clegg need to do better than sit back and criticise.
    "

    OK, you have a point and we all seem to agree that Brown has failed to rise to this challenge.

    The question is harder in the the case of Cameron. He did do the right thing and persuaded his "friends" to do the same, but he is inherently in favour of the adversarial system and so has nothing to gain and potentially something serious to lose by being seen to prop up Brown.

    Regarding the LibDems, who want to change the whole system, it's more complex. Perhaps you're right and Clegg should at least have made a public offer of a joint approach. In the end, he seems to have dithered like Brown which doesn't look good to his party, especially when Cable, Harvey and many others did the right thing.

  • Comment number 98.

    jimbrant @81 wrote:

    "At least Brown has a decent excuse for not voting - the Whips knew they were going to lose, so he didn't waste his time when he had a lot to do before going off to the next G8. Not that that will satisfy the Brown Outers on here of course."

    That's pathetic!!!

    You say that Brown was going to lose so he didn't bother.... He should have shown Leadership: told his ministers to shape up and vote accordingly. If the 33 NuLabour minister had voted 'no' the motion would have been defeated.


  • Comment number 99.

    Brownedov

    Hi again!

    I've analysed the Scots MPs contribution by party and vote - from the Hansard list. Mind you the UK Parliament seems fairly incompetent (I used to trust Hansard) but their list identifies some MPs with surnames and first names transposed, misspelt others, and suggests that some UKIP nonentity (Bob Spink) voted Aye and No!

    For what its worth the figures are -

    Aye No Abs Tot
    Con 1 1
    Lab 17 5 14 36
    Lib-Dem 4 7 11
    SNP 2 4 6
    Speaker 1 1
    55

  • Comment number 100.

    Brownedov

    Hi again!

    I've analysed the Scots MPs contribution by party and vote - from the Hansard list. Mind you the UK Parliament seems fairly incompetent (I used to trust Hansard) but their list identifies some MPs with surnames and first names transposed, misspelt others, and suggests that some UKIP nonentity (Bob Spink) voted Aye and No!

    For what its worth the figures are -

    Aye No Abs Tot
    Con 1 1
    Lab 17 5 14 36
    Lib-Dem 4 7 11
    SNP 2 4 6
    Speaker 1 1
    55

 

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