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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Taking the....

... dosh.

Peter the Profligate Luff, in another desperate attempt to make himself appear squeaky clean, digs his own grave:

his claims over the past four years have included £2,600 for redecorating the office in his Worcester home, £900 for replacing an exterior door, £428 for roof repairs and £243 spent on replacing a window.
He said: “It seems reasonable to me that a maintenance cost is something I would claim for – to claim for enhancements would be wrong.”

Legitimate or not?

It's his home, but what proportion of its upkeep should be allowed against expenses?

Is the office used solely for his parliamentary duties, or is it multi-purpose? Were the roof repairs directly over the office? Was the door to the office? Was the window in the office?

We're not told, and should have been. Bad reporting yet again, Worcester News.

The comments to the article are worth a read. There are, thank god, a few smart people left in Worcester.

Logik's comment sums it all up:

"Here is the test of reasonableness as far as I am concerned. Had you had to fund all this out of your own pocket, would you have bought the same items and would you have spent the same amount of money. If not then the cost to the taxpayer is unjustifiable."


I'm not the only one on Peter the Profligate's tail:

Posted by Phil at 7:14 PM
Edited on: Wednesday, June 03, 2009 11:31 PM
Categories: Comment, Waffle

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Local Media, Good and Bad

The MP "allowances" scandal brings out both the best and the worst of the local media.

I tweeted on May 15th about BBC Hereford and Worcester's phone interview with Julie Kirkbride; it has now made Have I Got News for You? (series 37, episode 5), 9:37 in:

BBC Radio Hereford and Worcester's Keith Gooden on the phone to Julie Kirkbride (there's a bit of confusion on my part as to when this interview took place - it was either October 2007 or 2008):

"You're married to an MP, a very unusual situation, but it appears that you and your husband are both claiming your full housing allowance, £44,000. I thought the old adage 'two could live as cheaply as one' would apply here? Obviously it doesn't."
*click* as Ms Kirkbride hangs up.

Classic! Good old-fashioned no-nonsense BBC.

Contrast this with the Worcester News' reporting of Peter "the Profligate" Luff's expenses claims:

"There is no suggestion he broke parliamentary rules"

Shameful sycophantic non-reporting, Worcester News, because in the same article you present clear, indisputable evidence of his rule-breaking:

"Selection of Mr Luff's second home expenses claims over four years, as listed in the Daily Telegraph: Kitchen table and six chairs – £1,583 (£750 paid out by fees office); TV – £750 Microwave – £218.99; China set – £625; China set – £367; Mattress – £675; DVD player – £224.99; Radio – £148; Clock radio – £116.99; Bedside light, alarm clock radio – £246.75; Chest of drawers – £725; Set of sofas, tables and pouffe – £1,774; Vacuum cleaner – £194.37; Vacuum cleaner – £139; Highgrove bedside chest – £144.93; Dining room table, four chairs, bar stool – £596; Carpet – £1,589.93."

The Green Book says this, quite unequivocally:

"Claims must only be made for expenditure that it was necessary for a Member to incur to ensure that he or she could properly perform his or her parliamentary duties."

"The requirement of ensuring value for money is central in claiming for accommodation, goods or services – Members should avoid purchases which could be seen as extravagant or luxurious."

Now go and look at the prices for similar items in your local high street catalogue store, keeping those two requirements in mind.

Posted by Phil at 10:33 AM
Edited on: Monday, May 25, 2009 11:51 PM
Categories: Comment, Waffle

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Green Book

The UK Parliament's Allowances page makes interesting reading.

The Green Book 2009 - A Guide to Members' Allowances is the "bible" of MP's allowances. The first thing it does is refer people to the Parliamentary Code of Conduct.

Part 1 of the Green Book, "Principles governing Members' allowances", is unequivocal:

Parliamentary allowances are designed to ensure that Members are reimbursed for costs properly incurred in the performance of their duties.


Claims should be above reproach and must reflect actual usage of the resources being claimed.
Claims must only be made for expenditure that it was necessary for a Member to incur to ensure that he or she could properly perform his or her parliamentary duties.
Allowances are reimbursed only for the purpose of a Member carrying out his or her parliamentary duties.
Claims cannot relate to party political activity of any sort, nor must any claim provide a benefit to a party political organisation.
It is not permissible for a Member to claim under any parliamentary allowance for anything that the Member is claiming from any other source.
Members must ensure that claims do not give rise to, or give the appearance of giving rise to, an improper personal financial benefit to themselves or anyone else.
Members are committed to openness about what expenditure has been incurred and for what purposes.
Individual Members take personal responsibility for all expenses incurred, for making claims and for keeping records, even if the administration of claims is delegated by them to others.
The requirement of ensuring value for money is central in claiming for accommodation, goods or services – Members should avoid purchases which could be seen as extravagant or luxurious.
Claims must be supported by documentary evidence, except where the House has agreed that such evidence is not necessary.

The Green Book continues:

The following questions are designed to assist Members in coming to a decision about whether or not costs incurred are appropriate to be met from the allowances:
Is this expense genuinely incurred by me in my role as a Member of Parliament as opposed to my personal capacity?
Is this purchase supporting me in carrying out my parliamentary duties? Defining parliamentary duties is difficult but Members may wish to consider (i) the generally accepted parliamentary functions: the legislative role; the oversight and accountability role; and the representative role, including dealing with constituents’ problems and (ii) obligations they may have, for example as a small employer. Anything which is done for personal benefit or for electioneering or for the direct support of a political party will not be part of a Member’s parliamentary duties.
Does the claim match the purpose of the allowance in question as set out later in the Green Book?
Could the claim in any way damage the reputation of Parliament or its Members?
How comfortable do I feel with the knowledge that my claim will be available to the public under Freedom of Information?

Part 2, detailing the allowances, says, of each of them, that they can only "be claimed if the principles set out in Part I have been complied with" (see above).

So, it is abundantly clear that all those MPs who are claiming that they were "following the rules" are nothing less than brazen arrogant liars.

Sack the lot of them.


Posted by Phil at 10:31 PM
Edited on: Friday, May 22, 2009 11:05 PM
Categories: Comment, Waffle

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Still the Best Kiwi Band Ever

Sorry Bret and Jermaine, you don't come close!

Split Enz, performing at Melbourne's "Sound Relief" concert, March, 2009.

All proceeds from the Melbourne Sound Relief concert went to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal 2009.

And here's Tim, Neil, and Liam Finn all together, with a classic song from Neil's old band:

Posted by Phil at 11:32 AM
Edited on: Saturday, May 09, 2009 12:24 PM
Categories: Music, Waffle