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Expenses exposed

Nick Robinson | 19:06 UK time, Monday, 23 March 2009

Tony McNulty is a canny enough politician to know that he has probably already been found guilty in the court of public opinion.

Tony McNultyAfter all, he's stopped claiming thousands of pounds a year for what are - by his own admission - rare overnight visits to his parents' house. What's more he's called for the system of allowances to be scrapped.

The rules that allow MPs - including those who live just a few miles from Westminster - to claim expenses for a second home are far from precise. They are vague enough for Mr McNulty to hope that he cannot be proven to have broken them.

What this case exposes once again is a widespread culture at Westminster that treats allowances as just that - an allowance to be claimed with the help and encouragement of Commons officials to supplement a salary that has been held down by governments of both parties for fear of antagonising the electorate.

That's why the Tories' shadow leader of the Commons Alan Duncan today floated the idea of scrapping the allowances and increasing salaries whilst insisting that this was not party policy.

With years of MPs' detailed expense claims to be published this summer thanks to freedom of information - these allegations won't be the last.


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  • Comment number 1.

    They may not be the last, but why don't you appear to be breaking these stories?

  • Comment number 2.

    Whilst many in this country cannot afford even one room, let alone one home, these slimy characters gnaw away at the fsbric of British society. McNalty, together with others of hius ilk should be tried at The Hague for their heinous crimes against humanity.

  • Comment number 3.

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

  • Comment number 4.

    He should be made to pay the money back and he should be sacked!
    What do you have to do to be sacked in this government?
    Clearly anything other than criticising policy is fine!

  • Comment number 5.

    McNULTY, SMITH and several others before them (and who knows how many yet to be uncovered?). I only catch bits and pieces of your show due to my job as a driver but I did hear one person comment that whatever enquiry is set up it must lay down some codes of practice with regard to the claiming of expenses. Well let me tell that person that such codes do already exsist; they are called honesty and morals. With people losing their jobs, their homes at alrming rates how do these MPs feel to be picking the pockets of some of the very (trusting) people who voted them in to power, because lets not forget that even MPs expenses will come out of the taxes we pay. All they have to say in their defence is " I've not broken any rules". Well it may be old fashioned of me but in my book you have all broken some of the very basic of rules you are always telling us we should live by ; honesty and morals. Dishonesty and immorality seem to rule at the moment eh Mr BROWN??

  • Comment number 6. least it's nice to see you reporting something which is not overtly Government favourable.

    The point,surely though, is not that the 'rules' allow such things to happen because of salary restrictions,but that these politicians have no sense of what is morally acceptable.It's like the old adage that told of Civil Servants taking their annual sick days allowance as holidays because the 'rules' allowed it.

    Perhaps..but it's still not acceptable to most decent,honest people.

    That's why the public are sick of their elected representatives...snouts in trough,and all that.

  • Comment number 7.

    I am confident, then, that as an honest politician (as well as a 'canny' one), McNulty will waste no time and immediately repay the 60,000 he claimed in 'permissible' - though totally unnecessary and unwarranted - expenses.

    I am similarly confident that you, Nick, will keep this affair in the limelight until McNulty does indeed repay us in full.

  • Comment number 8.

    I find myself agreeing with Alan Duncan and would raise salary to £120,000 a year.
    They would have to fund all of what are now seen as expenses from it including pension and redundancy plans.There will be no second homes allowance etc etc and they can employ who they damn well like all out of there salary.

    The savings to the tax payer would be helped by the raft of civil servants not required to service the claims that are at present made.

    Why do they have to wait until the Autumn to set up an inquiry ??? is it i suspect so that it will not be complete before the next election ???

  • Comment number 9.



  • Comment number 10.

    He will probably be found not to have broken any rules because there are
    no hard-and-fast rules to break. Nice work if you can get it.


  • Comment number 11.

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

  • Comment number 12.

    The BBC attitude to political sleaze is now "so what"

    McNulty is a canny politician alright - the money is safely in the bank and no one expects it to go back into the public purse any time soon.
    This is the bullyboy who pontificates about the behaviour of others.

    Gordon is showing leadership again by calling for an enquiry. The electorate is being taken for fools. The public is now conditioned to the disgraceful behaviour of Government ministers who still will not accept they have done anything wrong.

  • Comment number 13.

    Now Crash is saying things should improve

    Wasn't he the one who had to apologise for renting out his constituency office? Didn't the First Minister resign for the same offence?

    Is the Westminster Village just so out of touch with this holier than thou rhetoric?

  • Comment number 14.

    Why is there never any comment on the iniquitous expenses racket whereby MPs get their mortgage paid for by the dopes (the taxpayers) on their londonshire home but when they sell the property they pocket the profit themselves - it doesn't go to the taxpayers!! Or is it just Edinburgh this applies to and MSPs?? That's presumably why there's never any word about it in londonshire.

  • Comment number 15.

    Another one uh, what a surprise, anymore to come I ask?
    It's high time we did away with this committee it's like a criminal being the judge and jury, this is criminal and ought to be treated as such.

    We now know what Tony Blair meant by being 'Whiter than white' what a load of poo, but he ain't the PM anymore so Mr Brown writes to this or that and still hasn't the guts to say it wrong or sack the guy!

    In ministers eyes it's OK to claim what you can by any means because it isn't their hard earned cash it's ours, we've done the toiling and sweating not them - they don't give a toss, this government should hang their heads in shame but I doubt they will.

    The irony of it Brown is putting up with it just like Blair did, yes we'll hear rhetoric and excuses, but action will be zero because no one has the guts to condemn - just like the other ministers before McNulty, lets see some P45s flying instead of the red flag!

  • Comment number 16.

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

  • Comment number 17.

    The Tories asked for an enquiry now Brown is trying to take the moral high ground.

    Mcnulty has abused his position just like Smith has done so.

    The BBC should have a Brown - ometer counting the days until we are rid of him and his government, ie 2010 election.

  • Comment number 18.

    Nick -- this is becoming a joke.

    Brown has once again failed to discipline his own inner circle and now that things get messy he tries to position himself as the "saviour". Earlier today No 10 was categorically supporting Tony McNaulty -- why the sudden change ?

    Why not suggest a vote of no confidence in the house or like the Hungarian PM -- resign !

  • Comment number 19.

    Interesting that a new forum has opened up concentrating on that wretch McNulty and intentions to scrap the allowances. There is a whole backlog of comments awaiting moderation, and as the Moderators had previously been acting like guillotine operators during The Reign of Terror under Robespiere, I should imagine this forum will be moderated very slowly. Somehow I cannot see members from either party willing to surrender their goodies. Whatever words are spoken in outrage as McNulty joins Jackboot Smith et al, when it comes to crunch, alas I believe the Tories will want to dip their snouts in the same trough of diminishing public wealth.

  • Comment number 20.

    Oh how Hariet's 'court of public opinion' is coming back to bite her party

    Both McNulty and Brown's attempt to deflect attention away by announcing new ideas about is completely transparent, and too little too late - as eric pickles said (not that I trust the Tories aren't just as guilty)

  • Comment number 21.

    What a blatant attempt to defend the grotesque and insulting snout in the trough behaviour of the Labour Minister.

    Nick, watch a few recent episodes of The Daily Show with John Stewart and then hang your own head in shame.

    It is so depressing to feel that I have to rely on a comedy show to get access to the kind of REAL news that the BBC should be presenting.

    The Daily Show puts the entire output of the BBC to shame, it really does.

  • Comment number 22.

    Why on eartgh has no-one considered scrapping the expenses completely. Then build a £75 million 4 Star (not Not 5 * )hotel with 1000 rooms. Amortize the cost over 20 yrs. Running costs @ say £5 mill per annum. Result = no fiddling at all and a place for all governments servants and forces on duty in London to stay.
    In the 60s & 70s the RAF had these ((not 4 star) at Brize Norton, Bahrain and Singapore for passengers before departure and if delayed. Please spread this idea to the Committee on Standards in Public Life or tell me how to do it: i.e. where Sir Christopher Kelly can be reached.

  • Comment number 23.


    Well done for going against the grain and posting on this issue - shame you're two days late to the party.

    I see that the "court of public opinion" hasn't had much impact on Sir Fred or Jackboot Jacqui as yet - are your NuLab chums hoping it will be just as toothless over McNulty?

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

  • Comment number 24.

    Does this prove that N.R. does not read the comments to his blogs, or does it indicate that he may read some but not all? Which ever way it is, there appears a casual disregard for the commentators.

    A number of us invited Mr. Robinson to respond to our comments; I at least was denied the opportunity of a direct reply. Are you really interested in what is said, or do you regard us as page fillers who allow you to get on with other more important work, whilst we fill the pages over 3/4 days?

  • Comment number 25.

    An election has to come within the next twelve months so we have time to scrutinise who has been doing the most feathering of their nests

    No doubt the voters will take up their only opportunity to hold those responsible to account

    By voting them out.

  • Comment number 26.

    And what does Gordon Brown to try and head off trouble for one of his Ministers? He cynically announces that there should be a review of MPs expenses. The man is so easy to read.

  • Comment number 27.

    Nick, I may be wrong but criticism of your alleged bias towards New Labour appears to have grown since the Noble Lord Mandy re-joined the Government. Is this because his expanded PR department (grown in order to help journalists appreciate the complexities of the global financial crisis you understand) provides your copy as some allege, or is it because he really is the Master of the dark art of Spin, and you don't realise you are being played like a fish on a line?

  • Comment number 28.


    I have complained to the commons about MPs expenses before -- amongst other things, they told me that remit does not extend to ex-MPs.

    The delay in action (to beyond the next general election) is clearly to ensure that many, many corrupt MPs have become ex-MPs before there is any chance to act.

    If Smith and McNulty were not aware that their actions would be considered corrupt by the public (regardless of wriggling and squirming and trying to get off on 'technicalities') then they are more even more stupid than their careers suggest.

    Why don't you write another piece on how cynical the public are, and how honourable MPs are? MPs and the BBC play us (the public) for fools - you don't really think we are taken in do you? We see the lies, we just have too much respect for our 'political system' to riot - we just keep hoping that the 'next' government will treat us with respect, the option is third world disorder.

  • Comment number 29.

    The Conservative hypocrisy is sick-making. It wasn't a month ago that Caroline Spellman was repaying £9k of expenses wrongly used to pay her nanny, and before her Mr Conway was making recompense. I wont bore anyone with the details of the errant Conservative MEPS, I'm sure they are familiar to all. To listen to the nodder doll Tories who keep popping up and down, one would believe they were the squeaky clean party. Talk about pots and kettles. It will be interesting to see which MPs have all the second jobs and directorships when the enquiry requested by Gordon Brown into MPs pay and allowances etc, is published. Still the shock horror from the Conservatives about Tony McNulty's claims has moved the mixed messages about their will they/wont they IHT off the front pages. Coincidence?

  • Comment number 30.

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

  • Comment number 31.

    More snouts in the trough :oP

    Is it any wonder why MP's are the most despised people in the country when they operate the "Do as I say, not as I do" policy & bleat something chronic when they get caught with their hands in the till?

  • Comment number 32.

    A blizzard of allegations concerning unparliamentary expenses fiddling now follows? And so the political climate deteriorates while the post-imperial conflagration of English vanities burns long into the dark night of the English soul, as UK public life slides into terminal decadence, with the people's Westminster representatives competing with one another to get their snouts further into the trough of public largesse and getting caught with their pants down in the process.

    Meanwhile the broken society that Westmidden MPs are elected by an increasingly cynical public to manage if not mend turns its gaze away from the Palace of Allowances in gleeful celebration of the fact that they knew all along that this was how it was. Why would they not know this all along? After all, the people get the politicians that they deserve, do they not?

    And in the background the UK economy sinks further into the mire as the populace sinks further into the slough of despond. No wonder Scotland is slipping from your grasp. Poor old blighted Blighty. Commiserations.

  • Comment number 33.

    @#2 Mightyangela wrote: "McNalty, together with others of hius ilk should be tried at The Hague for their heinous crimes against humanity."
    Oh dear!

  • Comment number 34.

    This is not just abuse of expenses. If I did this to my employer I would get the sack. We the taxpayers are his employers, call in the Metropolitan Police. If someone is on income support and is found out fiddling his claim he should end up in court.

    What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Equality under the law. The government needs to get its moral compass out before people take to the streets. Frank Field is right.

  • Comment number 35.

    It used to come in cycles - Labour Ministers fill their pockets, Conservative Ministers have sex scandals.

    The irony is, that now they're *all* making sure their Swiss Bank Accounts are full & making sure the readies are still coming.

    Is it too late to vote for the Monarchy again & send this absolute shower to the Tower of London?

  • Comment number 36.

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

  • Comment number 37.

    Why do Labour politicians in the Commons and the Lords always seem more concerned about whether something is against the rules rather than whether it's right or wrong? "We haven't broken the rules" they say whilst blatantly breaking the spirit and any sense of honesty in a way that would get us mere mortals pilloried. "Moral compass? What's that then?"

    Why weren't MPs salaries reduced when their hours were made more "civilised"? Why weren't the number of Scottish MPs reduced when half their workload was taken away? Why do they get a pension twice as good as anyone else in the Civil Service? Why do we pay them so much when every vacancy has (when you include Party selection) literally dozens of qualified applicants?

    And when they compound all of this by suggesting their salaries be increased because they can't be trusted not to fiddle their expenses and we still don't throw them out on their ear? Perhaps it's our fault for encouraging them.

  • Comment number 38.

    Welcome back, Nick, pleased to see you off the fence. (The one that leans slightly to the left.)

    There are times when our chosen ones acting within ‘the rules’ so obviously shaft Joe Public that journalists and politicians alike have to raise their hands in admission.

    Flash produced an arm-up-the-back gesture today, calling for a review of MPs’ pay and allowances. A populist and useless call, seeing as any inquiry is unlikely to begin until autumn and the results contained until after next year’s election.

    Where’s the problem with starting a review next week?
    It might not be politically convenient, but it could be a vote winner and Gordon’s Gang need all the prospective votes they can muster in these desperate times.

  • Comment number 39.

    At least we now know why McNulty consistently voted against any transparancy in parliament,He voted against six debates on freedom of information and expenses.I wonder how many more names will come out before Harriet's bill to hide MP's addresses for security reasons stops any more of her cabinet having to state that they have done nothing wrong I just claimed every penny whether I was entitled or not.

  • Comment number 40.

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

  • Comment number 41.


    I think that the worst aspect of this is that the wonderful Gordon, I will not walk on the other side, Brown has now asked for an inquiry. Accordingly, we can now expect any response to be I feel it inappropriate to comment until the inquiry which I have requested has reported.

    Smith and McNulty would resign if they weren't so engorged with power. This is disgusting. Every time that Brown even dares to say he feels the pain of those who have lost sons in wasteful wars in Iraq and Afghanistan literally makes me feel nauseous. There must not be an inquiry as requested by Brown, the ministers, both of them, must be sacked, only the man who sends soldiers to their deaths lacks any real guts. That is the problem with Brown, he is actually, despite his rhetoric, gutless and spineless, but worst of all so terribly weak.

  • Comment number 42.

    The BBC is so useless on politics, that I wouldn't bother to post here if it wasn't for the fact I have already been forced to pay for the service.

    In a free market Nick and BBC political news would long ago have ceased to be a going concern.

    Enjoy your captive audience while you can.

  • Comment number 43.


    Enough is Enough! The straw that broke this camel's back, and now I will say what everyone is really thinking.

    Caught in the act and red handed: (...of breaking a law? - well maybe.... We will see Mr McNulty), but of abusing office of behaving DIShonourably, absolutely. The public is being disrepsected by its own servant/s. Wasting our money, while preaching for restraint, double dealing and believing the public can be duped and will not stand up for itself.

    The government is a lame duck, dead man walking, you choose the metaphor.... Worse! this government is still in power, every day, every hour that passes, every minute, every second worsens our....your current condition AND your future.

    So, we have a choice. Yes we do!, because in this country we have a voice. (Brown will carry on like the captain of The Titanic, clinging to the wheel as we all drown.) The Government will not step down, but they are unelectable! Everybody knows it but nobody will say it. Check the odds at the bookies, they REALLY know it. Labour will be history at the next election.

    It is our job, my job, your job, to push - BUY EVERY POSSIBLE MEANS, for a General Election as soon as posible.

    This country, your country, is Economically in the worst condition since the depression.

    An Honourable Government would step aside. Honourable members of pariliament in Government would move for a Vote of no confidence in their own Prime Minister, but whips and spin prevent them (despite the fact that if they did.. publicly.. they may just preserve their own jobs!...) Can you persuade them?, can we?

    Every moment in the status quo worsens our future. Move for change NOW. Push through every possible channel for a General Election Now, soon, we CANNOT WAIT for 2010. Why should we? We should not, there is no reason.

    Lobby, Blog, Post, Talk, It really does not matter who you believe will win, Action NOW is required. If your party of choice is playing a political waiting game, believing that this Labour Government will allow them to win providing they wait and bide their time, then point out that this in itself is irresponsible as time is of the essence ; Implore and Plead for them to act- iT is their responsibility to be ready to help you and the country, through this crisis and away from the impotent government.

    You, we everybody can make a difference. Act NOW for a positive future!

  • Comment number 44.

    So you're trying to encourage us to believe that:

    a) Tony McNulty's done nothing wrong, and

    b) If he has done anything wrong, it's our fault for saying their pay should be so "low".


  • Comment number 45.

    #37 RachelBlackburn

    "Why weren't the number of Scottish MPs reduced when half their workload was taken away? "

    The number was reduced, but if you look at the reserved powers that are the only bits they have constituency responsibility for, then their workload was reduced by much more than half.

    While we know the reason for the current arrangements - Labour needs its Scots MPs to govern England, the current arrangements deny democracy both to England for its domestic affairs, and the UK (as long as it lasts).

    Vive L'Angleterre, Vive L'Angleterre libre.

  • Comment number 46.

    #45 oldnat


  • Comment number 47.

    What is most irritating is that MPs can declare one place to be a "second home", for the purpose of claiming allowances - but then tell HMRC that it is a "primary residence" for tax purposes if they flog it.

    So Balls / Cooper say their expensive London house is a "second home", so we get to pay their mortgage... even though they go to work from it and their children go to school from it. If (when they lose office) they decide to sell, they could simly tell HRMC that it's a primary home and avoid capital gains tax. Well, if that's the case, HRMC should be able to go back and retrospectively tax parliamentary allowances.

    If any other group in society tried this scam, HMRC would have at least gone to court to test the legality many years ago.

  • Comment number 48.

    So Jack Straw - with Brown's approval - squeezes through a Bill which could make some inquests secret.

    No surprise there. After all, an inquest into poor Dr David Kelly was simply dispensed with. It was claimed that the Hutton inquiry had covered the ground (even though it had about as much detailed forensic rigour as Inspector Clouseau).

    So Brown's special baby - the Tax Credit Scheme - has now "overpaid" GBP4.3BILLION, with 2Bil probably unrecoverable. I'm all in favour of helping people in need. But this mob design things to be complicated, difficult to administer and monitor and seemingly to increase citizen / subject dependency on the largesse of the state. (Still no clear-cut resolution to the 10p tax fisaco...)

    So Colleges of Further education have half-finished building projects grinding to a halt through lack of resources. (Someone resigned!!! Now that's more like it.) If Brown can micro-manage stuff, surely he can at least ensure that people contracted to deliver "improvements" get the money they need to finish the job?

    Peston would be on and off his blog 3 or 4 times a day if "stuff happens". Three or four times a week seems about the limit here.

    But there's plenty of stuff to comment on.

  • Comment number 49.

    OK Mods. I know this a new version of the site.

    Just wondering why a comment (#47) posted around 0630 has simply disappeared. Bit odd to see number 46 followed by number 48.

    Sounds like being paint-brushed out of a photo in Stalinist Russia...

  • Comment number 50.

    Brown has come in at 'only' tenth on a list of global losers in an American magazine.

    Maybe Gordon's wheeze on dodgy expenses, an inquiry to report after the next election, will reverse his fortunes and endear him to the public?!

  • Comment number 51.

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

  • Comment number 52.

    The BBC front page leads with an article entitled "New Terror Strategy" drawn from an article written by Brown in the Observer:

    I would draw your attention not so much as to the article itself, but to the bloggers comments to the article. I was surprised that the vast majority of comments were extremely vitriolic against Brown such as:

    "The biggest threat to Brtish freedom, security and wealth is not AQ but Gordon Brown and his actions over the past decade. He has personally done more damage than AQ could dream of."


    Nice try. But as your mate, Bill Clinton, would have said, "It's the economy, stupid!"

    Please don't try to distract us from the massive economic mess you have created.


  • Comment number 53.


    As long as MPs regulate themselves there will be no end to these abuses.

    If GB were serious about theses irregularities, and while we're at it, you were doing your job properly, all of you would be clamouring for an independent committee to do the review.

    Until this happens, the abusese will go and on and on.....zzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • Comment number 54.

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

  • Comment number 55.

    MPs expenses, a serious (non party) issue and let's get it sorted - and let's also get it in perspective - take McNulty, Smith, Speelman, the rest, add them all together and what do you get? ... you get a financial impact on taxpayers less than that of a single senior banker

    (reword of 36, bizarrely referred to mods)

  • Comment number 56.

    Brown's subletting of his constituency office is clearly fobidden, the rules are not 'vague' here.

    It seems that team Brown have not yet decided to axe McNulty as Mr Robinson here writes about the rules being 'vague'. It will be interesting to see whether Mc Nulty's parents have declared the rent and paid income tax on it. I'm sure that that will be investigated by Mr Robinson.

    Fanatastic to see constituency-office-subletting Brown write to the standards committee. Very obvious parallels to:
    -rubbishing Osborne when he talked about sterling's fall after himself writing in the Evening Standard in 1992 that a weak currency is caused by a weak economy which is caused by a weak government;
    -talking about more financial regulation and early financial warning systems after claiming the virtues of light-touch regulation in his 2006 Mansion House speech and ignoring IMF warnings about the UK housing bubble and the UK's fiscal position.

  • Comment number 57.

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

  • Comment number 58.

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

  • Comment number 59.

    Looks like Jackie is doing the rounds pushing the terror stuff today

    She said she couldn't multi task when asked about expenses by Nicky Campbell...but he didn't push the point and she reacted with indignation.

    Let's see if you can improve BBC and actually hold people to account. Don't be afraid of asking the same question again and again to get an answer

  • Comment number 60.

    So. MP's have come up with their own solution. We just pay them an extra £40,000 per year each and they'll forget about some of their expense claims. Doesn't say which ones though, does it!

    You can bet your bottom dollar that they won't lose out, whatever happens.

  • Comment number 61.

    "29. At 10:44pm on 23 Mar 2009, valdan70 wrote:
    The Conservative hypocrisy is sick-making. It wasn't a month ago that Caroline Spellman was repaying ?9k of expenses wrongly used to pay her nanny, and before her Mr Conway was making recompense."

    Sorry this is NOT a party political fight but an act of fraud by an Minister. I dont care which party he belongs to he deliberatly claimed a TAX Free over night second home allounce when living full time in another house.

    His 60k claim is equlivant to around 90k before tax and NI income, or the income tax paid by 15-20 people on average income, or 1000 weeks of unenployment benefit. He MUST be prosecuted.

    But sadly I suspect nothing will happen execpt for a rash of MP's being outed for doing simular

  • Comment number 62.

    Yes, he's canny - he stopped claiming shortly before the news was released that he was getting the money. (More than Jackie did - any news on that one?)

    When is McNulty going to pay it back?

    Nick, poor MP's have to claim payments that cannot be justified, just because their pay isn't enough?! Do come on! No-one forced them to be MP's and we thought it was a public service after all. Seems to me that their pay isn't bad as it is.

    By all means let them have allowances for things like constituency offices, but not as an extra source of money from the taxpayer to pocket.

    By the way, when is a **completely** independent system to oversee this whole mess going to take place. How much lower in the public's esteem do MP's have to get before something is done? It's not rocket science.

  • Comment number 63.

    #59 StrongholdBarricades

    I saw JS on TV this morning. She said the "sleepers" in this country have been identified, but there was no mention of whether they had been picked up or not. There was, however, lots of guff about new schemes to try and prize these youngsters away from the military schools which train them. All I can see is more money being thrown at a pointless excersise.

    Call me cynical, but there was little substance in her interview, which makes me think it's more scare tactics to try and raise their position in the polls.

  • Comment number 64.


    may I draw readers attention to the fact that David Milliband has refused to give evidence to a parliamentary inquiry into what the UK knew about the case of Binyah Mohamed, wo alleges British complicity in his torture.

    May I also refer readers that in evidence given to two high Court judges, namely Lord Justice Thomas and Mr justice lloyd Jones allegations have been made that Mr Mohamed should sign an agreement with his American captors to the effect that 'he had never been tortured; promised never to speak to the media; promised never to sue the United States, or any US ally, including Britain; and pleaded guilty to terror charges'. Now we know that Mr Mohamed refused to sign such an agreement.

    This is disgraceful behaviour by both the British and American authorities. Yet so little publicity on the day that Miss Smith makes her disgusting, to me, about how she sees the anti terrorist laws being amended. Apparently, she wants people to stop people like me having my say because I may rouse somebody to anger and action. I need to be moderated apparently. Well that's how I read her anyway. In the meantime the government wants some inquests to be held without a jury. This is getting serious, and I can only hope that the House of Lords does its proper job.

    I have personal knowledge where the sort of agreement which the Americans wanted Mr Mohamed to sign are having to be signed by special forces before they are allowed to become special forces officers. These confidentiality agreements are then used to silence 'whistle blowers'. Furthermore, an investigation needs to be held into confidentiality agreements which recipients of compensation for the loss of a loved one, or injury, in Iraq or Afghanistan. Speak out and you will lose you compensation!

    These are shameful days. I can only hope that Gordon Brown does not yet again flee PMQs on the basis that he is Europe or America attempting to solve the global economic crisis. Free speech is seriously under threat, the threat must be resisted.

  • Comment number 65.

    What a state the country is in. Even government ministers are living on benefits, it's just that they set themselves a much better rate than everyone else.

  • Comment number 66.

    Another brassneck politician. They always have enough time to feather the nest. Pity they could not be more "imaginative" with certain banker's pensions and bonuses.

    We should not pay them any more money. No more rewards for failure. If they do not like it then they can clear off and find a job somewhere else. It would hardly be a brain-drain from the HoC.

    As for a "government of all the talents" Mr Brown I know a few goats and they talk a lot more sense.

  • Comment number 67.

    No wonder MPs are always smiling on their election addresses. Vote for me and make me rich!

    If MPs don't have enough bread why don't they eat cake?

    Shares in tumbril manufacturers are a buy, then.

  • Comment number 68.

    Would be a very clever move by MPs when they manage to get a substantial increase in salary that is fully pensionable!

    Wakey, wakey!!

    Just give every MP a standardised modest allowance, which is not pensionable, with a fixed minimum and a variable that is dependent on distance from constituency to Westminster.

    If MPs don't like it and are truly valuable to society that can surely command a good salary outside buraucracy and quangoland.

  • Comment number 69.

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

  • Comment number 70.

    A prerequisite of a job in the legislature is, I would have thought, a basic standard of ethics and morals. Otherwise, how dare they presume to pass laws to control the behaviour of the rest of us?

    Too many of our politicians (all parties) now view it as a career rather than a vocation and have the same mindset as those in the finance world they are so keen to criticise.

    Tell me, what is the difference between McNulty and Smith playing the system to get as much out of it as they can - and Fred the Shred negotiating his pension?

  • Comment number 71.

    This shows how the scales of justice are tipped in the favour of the powerful.... benefit fraudsters appear to feel the full weight of the law (and public disgust), however, apparently fraudulent politicians, bankers, businessmen et al seem to be able to slip through a conveniently placed 'gap'.

    Whilst I have little time for benefit fraudsters, it does bother me so many others get away with ripping us off. In fact, it really bothers me!

    On a more personal level, I've always found Tony McNulty to be a loathsome individual with nothing much going for him so I particulary hope he'll have to resign.

  • Comment number 72.

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

  • Comment number 73.

    I might be a bit out on a limb in this posting, but here goes! Quite simply an annual salary of £63,000 is not enough for someone to purchase and maintain two homes, one of which must be in or near central London (even with recent price falls). We, the electorate, would be highly critical of candidates who did not have a foothold in or very near the constituency they represent and would equally damn them if they failed to spend sufficient time in Westminster representing us and holding the executive to account. The answer is either the current allowance system, perhaps with the M25 being the outer boundary for exclusion, a higher salary or the provision of accommodation by the state near Westminster. There must be some ghastly tower block in the midst of a challenging estate that would be ripe for such provision. Might even bring our legislators and governors nearer the problems (and people) they claim to be seeking to address. It is easy to throw criticism at MPs over this issue (and, my goodness, they give us ample cause and opportunity) but we should also be realistic in what we can and should expect of them and provide for them to undertake this incredibly important role. I want more active MPs, I want them to be more intrusive in the running and machinations of the state, I want them to safeguard the freedoms that enable me to write comments such as this (and others more critical). They will not be able to do that effectively while sleeping on the floors of their offices or stranded at the end of a four hour train journey each day.

  • Comment number 74.

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

  • Comment number 75.

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

  • Comment number 76.

    "...but had stopped claiming the allowance in January because the fall in interest rates meant he could afford to pay the mortgage from his MP's salary."

    What a coincidence that he decided to stop claiming the expenses after other related stories were in the headlines and he realised that if his "creative book-keeping" came to light he'd be for the chop (should be!)

    Personally I can't think of a better MP to have an example made of him - he is a shocking politician, if he can be called that, who is basically a school yard bully masquerading as a parlimentarian.

  • Comment number 77.

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

  • Comment number 78.

    fredalo @ 70

    Tell me, what is the difference between McNulty and Smith playing the system to get as much out of it as they can - and Fred the Shred negotiating his pension?

    er ... about 16 million pounds?

  • Comment number 79.

    Post 22 an excelent idea. However there is no need to build one as I am sure there are a number of new overpriced appartment blocks in central London effectively owned by RBS or HBOS where the developers can't pay back the loans.

    As we own the banks we can take them in lieu of part of the bail out at 50p in the pound and put MP's up in nice two bed apartments at no cost but with the benefit of them not claiming housing expenses. Let them have 24 hour security on the door and run minibuses from there to and from Parliament. This would also save on taxi fares and other travel expenses.

  • Comment number 80.

    Raise their salaries at a time when the rest of us are facing salary reductions? Nice example ..
    Any MP that thinks they are underpaid, should resign and get a different job - I'll bet you there will be more than enough people who would fill any vacated role many times over ..
    ..and then they might appreciate what the rest of us face ..
    Contempt does not cover this ..

  • Comment number 81.

    Recently Andrew Neil, on the Daily Politics show, revealed that members of parliament are the second highest paid of all MP's in the European Union (behind the Italians). As far as I am aware he was only referring to salary and not taking into consideration their mountainous expenses, second jobs and freebies. MP's are not poorly paid. People in the real world work a lot harder, more often longer hours, for many in less than salubrious conditions and for a lot less remuneration.

    What always strikes me about MP's is that they are continually telling us how they came into politics "for public service" or "to make a difference". What I believe they actually mean is that "I am not equipped to work in the real world, so I shall come into politics and make money".

    An MP (of any party) slavishly toes the party whip and never represents their constituents views or wishes unless it happens to coincide with the party line. MP's are selected by the local party, so Joe public is just offered what the party is prepared to put forward.

    As long as this system prevails we will have the type of MP's we have now, the majority who are incompetent, the average who are in it to trouser the money and just the odd few who you would elect given a choice.

    If only we could have a House of Commons with 300 independent MP's representing the real views of the people (and not the 630 we have now).

  • Comment number 82.

    #32 frankly_francophone

    Sounds rather reminicent of the French Revolution - ordinary folkies struggling while the ruling sovereign elite fatten their bellies and stuff their pockets!

    Now, what happened next again......?

  • Comment number 83.

    The electorate's distaste for this government's sleaze and incompetence is almost complete.

    We've had busted banks, media spin, dysfunctional public services led astray by a target culture, out of control public spending, out of control personal spending and a culture of media manipulation the like of which we have never seen before.

    Public dissatisfaction with the eroding veneer of the newlabour period is now spilling over onto the streets with riots planned for the G20 summit.

    There hasn't been a government looking so dangerously out of control of its own agenda since James Callahan in the 1970s. What happened to him is written in the history books.

    The difference this time around is the complete lack of contrition on the part of the government; it doesn;t matter if it's Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Peter Hain, Hazel Blears, MacNulty, Lords Myners and Mandelson, Jack Straw or anyone else who has come under the scrutiny of the court of public opinion; they are all of the storng belief it's nothing to do with them. Worse, they cling on to the belief they are the best people for the job. Only newlabour can pull us out fo this.

    This is hubris of the worst possible kind and it deserves whatever fait awaits it at the next general election.

    Call an election before we turn inot a banana republic

  • Comment number 84.

    no. 73 harrowingdunn
    why do MPs have to buy a second house on their puny wages?Surely they could just buy the one where they live and rent somewhere with their allowance
    If our masters in Europe ever allowed their books to be looked at closely I dread to think how many millionaires have been cooking the books.

  • Comment number 85.

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

  • Comment number 86.

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

  • Comment number 87.

    Re post 22 and 79

    The only problem is that it will be empty most of the time.
    MP's don't attend the HOC until Monday pm and leave on Thursday afternoon. i.e a maximum of 3 nights a week when parliament is sitting.

    It might be better to build or buy a hotel and lease it to Travelodge, at least they could then fill it weekends and during the many parliamentary recesses. The only problem is that they "stew" the bacon at Travelodge.

  • Comment number 88.

    #73 harrowingdunn

    I wouldn't go so far as to suggest the poor luvvies should be "sleeping on the floors of their offices or stranded at the end of a four hour train journey each day", but the ones who do actually work late and/or start early a few days per week don't need mollycoddling - just a comfortable bed, a private bathroom and a place to operate their laptops. Something like a Travelodge or Etap should do nicely.

    One Whitehall department could be moved to a brownfield site in Docklands and its offices converted into such an hotel - with rooms available free to MPs based outside the North and South Circular roads during term-time. During their long hols it would be a nice little earner selling budget central accommodation to tourists.

    During the time it takes to move the staff and convert the building, I suggest the army step in and provide a secure, guarded camp in Green Park, possibly switching to Nissen huts if the conversion takes too long.

    Unlikely to happen, of course, but if it did there would still be queues of candidates wanting to stand for election and it's hard to imagine that they could be of lower "quality" than the current "lobby fodder".

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

  • Comment number 89.

    Let's hope the inland revenue also check Brown's tax return for the income he got from his sublet consituency office.

  • Comment number 90.

    #53 andfinally

    "As long as MPs regulate themselves there will be no end to these abuses."

    While I'm popping in, I might as well say, chaps, chappeses, it is staggering (well, not any more) how you rage and shout and cry for an election, which will only instate an alternative band of roughes who will do exactly the same - as long as the system allows.

    There are no regulating influences on your politicians. They are like a club of absolute monarchs, who decide what's best - for themselves. In fact you might as well have said monarchs while you accept and retain your system where parliament is sovereign.

    Do you want to be governed as effective mutes like this?

    You need to demand a change to your Constitution, if democracy matters to you at all.

  • Comment number 91.


    there's a nice list in this mornings Independent of the outer London MPs who find the tube too much hassle, both sides of the house troughing it and McNulty is far from top of the list in claims.

    Guess what Gareth is at it as well to the tune fo 79K last year, but he is certainly toast next election anyway.

    A relative who worked in Harrow Council when McNulty agrees with your view, they always refer to him as McNasty.

  • Comment number 92.

    "Tony McNulty is a canny enough politician to know that he has probably already been found guilty in the court of public opinion.

    After all, he's stopped claiming thousands of pounds a year for what are - by his own admission - rare overnight visits to his parents' house. What's more he's called for the system of allowances to be scrapped.

    Well thats all right then lets just let him carry on..........

    NO Nick this isnt all right If McNulty is so canny he will be depositing the whole ammount back in the taxpayers account today. He has the look of a guy that has been caught in his wifes underware. The only reason he has stopped claiming is because the neighbours looked a little suspicious when they saw a stocking top.

  • Comment number 93.

    Somebody should ask Mr McNulty what is wrong with N18 bus from Trafalgar square to Harrow and Wealdstone (for very late nights) or the Metropolitan or Bakerloo Tube lines!

    Of course Mr McNulty expects unemployed people to spend over Five Pounds to get to the job centre to sign on for the Sixty Pounds per week JSA. Finally if somebody lived in Harrow and declined a minimum wage job in Westminster they would find the government withdrawing their JSA.

    Its time MPs of all parties practised what they preach.

  • Comment number 94.


    There is something to be said for Parliament buying 2-3 hotels in the vicinity of Westminster and letting out rooms at cost to MPs keen to have a place to work, rest, and play - if your name is .....

    I've wondered why you haven't commented on the upcoming evening on BBC Parliament on March 28th - The Night the Government Fell - the 30th anniversary of the collapse of the Callaghan government. Must be much to compare and contrast with current events I'd have thought?

  • Comment number 95.

    What would Mr Mcnulty have done if there was no second home expenses scam going? Wouldn't he either have moved the new Mrs M to Harrow and both lived in his constituency or just lived in Hammersmith and caught the train now and again? Rather that than trying to give the appearance of a golden and necessary triangle with Harrow, Westminster and Hammersmith? Mrs M works for Ofsted, so she could live there as well, no problem. Two nice public sector salaries could easily afford a good rented property in the area. He's claimed the money because he can, not because it's right - nothing less than totally unaccepatble behaviour, which should be a resigning matter if he had any self-pride at all.

    The main point here of course is the repeated mystery absence of the Brownian Moral Compass. It appears once more (after Smith, Darling, Mandelson and others) to have been lost down the back of the second-home sofa that we taxpayers have funded.

    There is no point in Ministers having a go at Fred's pension when this kind of contrived and greedy nonsense is perpetrated every day by the shower of politicians that Brown has appointed.

    I hope Cameron has got his boys and girls in line on this sort of stuff - the election might be sooner than we think.

  • Comment number 96.

    but back to the economy ... it looks like Gordon has got inflation well and truly licked, doesn't it?

  • Comment number 97.

    And these r the people who try to spin all the blame away from ZanuLabour, aided by Robinson and Peston, by going on and on about Fred Goodwin - TOTAL HYPOCRITES AND FULL OF SLEAZE, SLEAZE, AND MORE SLEAZE.

    See london Evening Standard for latest ZanuLabour person caught like McNulty and her reaction.

    In the name of God - PLEASE GO.

  • Comment number 98.

    Saga at 78

    Discussing principles not amounts.

    Presumably you would be OK with setting a money limit below which it's OK to do what you please?

  • Comment number 99.

    Yet another MP trying to hide behind the "it was within the rules" excuse. Even Tony McNulty described this as the Nuremberg Defence.
    Regardless of whether or not they are complying with the rules (and we should not for one second simply accept that they are just because they, or their parliamentary poodles, say so) the cases of Balls/Cooper, Smith and McNulty are morally indefensible. The fact that they remain in the cabinet tells us all we need to know about Brown's values and ethical standards.

  • Comment number 100.

    #81 Drakemix

    You make some fair points, but except in very rare cases [Blaenau Gwent springs to mind], the 1872 plurality voting system works heavily against all but the larger parties, and there is no chance of either Tory or NuLab turkeys voting for Christmas by banning party allegiance.

    The fairest system, STV, is now used for Scottish Council elections and might just be brought in for Westmidden should the LibDems and home rulers hold the balance of power after the next General Election. But even diehard Tories would find it hard to make a case against Majority voting, which elected Boris in London last May and is used by the French to save them from sharing the wooden spoon with the UK in the democracy race among EU states.

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!


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