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April 02, 2009


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Kay Tie

"I hope that the party leaders are sufficiently alarmed that they will come to a speedy solution in order to protect our tottering democracy, Graham"

I don't know if that was sarcasm or not, but the fact remains that I agree with the words. This is a recession like no other, and there is a lot more unemployment to come. Just take a look at the latest productivity figures:


The drop in productivity is largely due to companies holding on to staff for as long as possible (so much for the "ruthless bosses") while their production falls. This can't go on for much longer, and the result is a lot more unemployment.

This time there are a lot of people being made redundant who have never known hardship: they are having their candy taken away for the first time and they won't like it one little bit. This will lead to anger, randomly directed, and I fear that our democracy itself will end up the target. You don't have to know much about the 1930s to know what followed.

Paul Flynn

I hope that the party leaders are sufficiently alarmed that they will come to a speedy solution in order to protect our tottering democracy, Graham

Paul Flynn

Valleylad, I'd question the 'money spinner' accusation for MPs homes generally. It certainly was with London MPs. For those living too far away to commute the choice is hotels at £150 plus a day, renting or mortgage interest. There is not a great deal of difference between the three options as far as the total cost to the public purse is concerned. Allowances do not pay for mortgage payments which are the choice of MPs. They gain or lose on the capital value of the homes. Some MPs have rented for the past 30 years.

Paul Flynn

Thanks Tony.

The deals being done in Pakistan and Afghanistan with the Taliban questions the value of sacrifice of 152 British lives and the idiot Bush plan to turn Afghanistan into a Swedish style democracy.
Hope is in Obama.

Paul Flynn

rwendland, thanks for the information.
I accept the logic of what you say. Untangling the pensions would be an enormous task to prevent it being seen as a privileged system. The same applies to taxable allowances.

MPs have been shaken by the recent exposure of old Sapnish practices

Paul Flynn

DG, maximum level of allowances on second homes etc invites MPs to calim to the maximum amounts. Some feel they have failed is they do not claim every penny. The present system is not an option for the future. If all MPs outside of the M25 were given a set allowance of say £12,000 (£24,000 for new MPs) and let them decided their own spending. That would be better value for the taxpayer, transparent and will require an army of auditors, receipt checkers and would be popular in reducing cost to the taxpaper.


> "We must not continue with systems that are more generous that those of our constituents."

I wonder if many MPs appreciate that for ordinary folks HMRC rules are that if you have to work at a distant workplace for longer than 24 months, for >40% of the week, any travel & subsistance expenses become taxable? A rule well known to contractors/consultants, which if applied to MPs would make the bulk of their expenses taxable.

The HMRC rule is the "Limited duration: the 24 month rule", and can be found in the IR490 s3.14. Do you think MPs would accept being treated as ordinary taxpayers under this rule?

Here is the text of the rule:

3.14 The test is whether the employee has spent, or is likely to spend, 40% or more of their working time at that particular workplace over a period of more than 24 months. Where that is the case the workplace is a permanent workplace so travel between there and home is ordinary commuting for which there is no relief.


Anyone seen this ?

Its apparently a new law proposed in Afghanistan that

Human rights activists say it reverses many of the freedoms won by Afghan women in the seven years since the Taleban were driven from power.

They say it removes the right of women to refuse their husbands sex, unless they are ill.

Women will also need to get permission from their husbands if they want to leave their homes, unless there is an emergency.

The law covers members of Afghanistan's Shia minority, who make up 10% of the population.

Remind me , wht are we fighting to 'protect' the Afghans ?


Party leaders could easily and quickly have cleaned this up - sack the mickey takers.

Most of your suggestions are sensible, but the suggestion that the rules invite abuse I disagree with. I see it as reflective of the character of MPs.

Many MP's are worth nowhere near the 64K they are paid. It is not fair it is extremely generous particularly if you compare it to those who do useful work in the public sectors. I wonder what jobs in South Wales that require no qualifications pay? 60K in Wales as a household income (not individual) puts you in the highest decile. MPs have been comparing themselves to self-serving greedy scum they interact with, not normal decent people.

Housing has been a money spinner for many MPs. Rewriting the rules so that a) you only get any allowance if you live outside the M25 and b) it is realistic would not be hard.

Personally I'd like to see MPs linked to the public services. Housing allowance at housing benefit level, salary linked to median pay, rises restricted to the lowest increment in the public services. Let them see how real people live.

Expenses are a different matter. Publish them. Pay them against receipts. Impose the sort of controls all companies operate.
Insist on best value. Have staff salaries set by the civil service. I can see good reasons for MPs employing family (even though it appears nepotistic) but not for the salaries they're paid. Different MP's will have different expenses depending on what they do. Trying to claim for porn, ipods, bath plugs or a big telly should get them gaoled.

Paul Flynn

The response from would be ranters has been greater has expected. Thanks. A telephone number, address (for contact) plus views in a single sentence would help. Thanks

Graham Marlowe

I think it would help Paul if party leaders came down hard on those of their MPs who are demonstrably taking advantage. Cameron could sack Spellman from the front bench because of that "nanny" affair. Brown could sack McNulty, Smith and Butler.

Also, should an unmarried Mp be claiming as much as a married one? Purnell claims a hefty amount of expenses and is unmarried for example.

IO know he is no longer an MP but Mandy, for example doesn't NEED a large house in regents Park, and there are many other instances of single MPs living in large houses.

You are right about travelling distance Dawn Butler lives in Stratford and Wembley - both less than 30 minutes from Westminster. Those ghastly Keen's live close enough to travel in. As does Eric Pickles in Brentwood, Andrew Rossindale in Romford etc etc - all could reach Westminster in an hour or so.

It is terrible that the public think you are "all" at it, when we know the distaste that you, John McDonnell and the London LibDems feel about this matter, and if anyone ever says to me they think you are all the same, I point this out, but because of the disgusting avaricious behaviour of the few you all get tarred with the same brush. That is why it is important that Cameron and Brown sort this out - starting with a few high profile sackings. Then they should do whatr Nick Clegg suggested on radio the other day - arrange a meeting quickly and thrash it out once and for all

Kay Tie

"The tabloids are in full pursuit of allegedly fiddling MPs. MPs are upset at accusations they see as exaggerated and unfair."

Replace "MPs" with "bankers" and you get to see how it feels to be in the finance industry. Many of my friends in banking work hard and do a good job, yet have become public enemies (in part thanks to the whipping up of hysteria by your monocular leader).

One my friends in particular works in restructuring companies that are bankrupt so they can continue operate. Of course, he's become massively overworked in the last few months. What do you think he feels like when he's told "no pay rises" and "no bonus for you for all that unpaid overtime" because he happens to work in a now-state-owned bank?

We who read your blog know what you think of MPs financial arrangements and of the state of Parliament, and we don't want your name to be tainted by these scandals. But those who get their information from the media don't know any better because they are misinformed and you will be castigated by those people. Can I therefore ask you to bear this in mind the next time you comment on the finance industry having received your information from the media?


"One solution is to set up a new £1million bureaucracy of audit and inspection. It's unnecessary and would increase costs."

If the last few days have proved anything, it's that external audit and inspection IS necessary. Let's not forget that the infamous "fiddling expense" was approved by some idiot before Mighty Mole exposed it. MPs are only human, if there's room to take the mick, then some will. They might even honestly believe it's OK, like poor bewildered Eric Pickles.

"Standard amounts should be calculated for offices and staff"

Nice in theory, but unworkable. Salaries vary immensely from region to region - check the difference between Newport and Bristol, for instance. Newport has low salaries, comparitively.

"The second home allowance and travelling payment should be calculated on the distance between MPs constituency from Westminster"

OK, travelling payment, maybe, but second home allowance? Why would that be greater the further away you are? Property is generally cheaper the further from London you are. Take Newport, for example, compared to Oxford... hmmm.

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