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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