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May 28, 2009

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Kay Tie

"My only point was that should we decide to "stone" MPS (as some on here have) then let's all have a little look at our own affairs."

Yes, you're right to make that point. Those in glass houses.. (or more biblically, those without sin..).

"I am being honest in saying that had i not tweeked my books in certain years my businesses would have recorded losses."

Losses are the risk to doing business. You can't have the upside of success without the risk of the downside of losses (and maybe going bust). There's no need to play fast and loose with the taxman to be in business. There's also a lot of flexibility from the taxman (for example, paying PAYE late - the Revenue are quite calm about this as long as they know what's going on).

My advice is to always play it straight: pay suppliers on time, pay the taxman on time, and if/when you're in dire straits you'll find you have friends who are happy to help you out.

patrick

What i'm stating is that not everyone is a crook but that a significant number of small businesses would not be in business if they stuck to the letter of the law.

Reducing official takings, paying cash on stock or materials to avoid VAT, losing the odd receipt here and there. These are day to day realities for struggling businesses.

My only point was that should we decide to "stone" MPS (as some on here have) then let's all have a little look at our own affairs.

I am being honest in saying that had i not tweeked my books in certain years my businesses would have recorded losses.

Kay Tie

"Do you really think that an average businessman such as shop keeper, market trader declares their full income to HMRC?"

Yes.

"Likewise for all small businesses that often have to act illegally to survive."

They may have to break the law, like us all, when it comes to survival vs. regulations. Did they provide a written contract to their part-time till keeper? Did they go through the statutory consultation period when making them redundant? Did they undertake extensive risk assessments for operating a till? Did they send their staff on training courses to tell them how to lift a box? Did they keep detailed records of hours worked to comply with working time directives?

If that's what you're talking about then I can see what you mean. But outright fraud rather than neglect (deliberate or otherwise) are very different things in my book.

"They are trying to be helpful to me so i can avoid declaring the income and secondly they are expecting me to dampen the bill."

And what do you do then? Cheat the taxman like you accuse everyone else of doing? Only for small amounts?

"The accountant (i have had five during 25 years and 3 businesses) then tells you every loophole and dishonest way to avoid taxation."

I have never met an accountant who advised me on how to break the law. Every one I met advised on how to reduce my tax bill (increasing pension payments, investing in R&D, making sure termination payments were redundancy not salary) Are you saying that increasing one's pension payments is dishonest? That advising someone to do so is dishonest?

"People pay an accountant to lie and save them cash. He/she then proves how clever they are to keep the client happy."

And you accuse me of being cynical! No reputable accountant would be prepared to lie for his client. Why would he take such a risk? He faces disbarment at the least and prison at the worst if caught. There must be some shysters out there but in my entire career I've encountered a bent lawyer only once (and I dobbed him in to the Revenue).

HuwOS

I'm not sure where you are going with this argument Patrick, most people do not break the law except in the most minor of ways.
Pointing out the hypocrisy of those who bayed at politicians for use of expenses that was often within the rules was one attempt to get some rationality into the issue but suggesting that everyone is a crook is nonsense.
KayTie did at one point suggest that accountants who advised people on how to break the law to evade tax would not last long was naive in the extreme but most accountants do not do that, most accountants as with most MPs, work within the rules. Where the tax rules are too loose, as with MPs expenses and allow what we do not believe they should allow, then those rules need to be changed.

patrick

Kay-Tie (the female Martin Bell)
You really should get out and about more.

Do you really think that an average businessman such as shop keeper, market trader declares their full income to HMRC?

Likewise for all small businesses that often have to act illegally to survive.

The public demmand "how much for cash?" when shopping. Most jobs i do people offer me cash and many say we don't want a receipt. They are trying to be helpful to me so i can avoid declaring the income and secondly they are expecting me to dampen the bill.

Welcome to the real world KT.

The accountant (i have had five during 25 years and 3 businesses) then tells you every loophole and dishonest way to avoid taxation. If an accountant was honest he/she would soon be redundant.People pay an accountant to lie and save them cash. He/she then proves how clever they are to keep the client happy.

If you have genuinely declared your full income to HMRC , never 'lost' a receipt, never made a dishonest claim for anything and never conspired with an average accountant to avoid tax then it beggars belief.

As a true latter day saint I suggest we give you a nobel style prize and make a marble statue of you in Pall Mall.

Kay Tie

"Everybody i know breaks the law , fiddles their accounts, buys goods at cash to avoid VAT, pays workmen cash etc, etc."

You're hanging with the wrong crowd. Get some new friends, because everyone I know doesn't do what you describe above.

That's not to say that we don't all break the law all the time thanks to the torrent of criminal legislation. It's now even illegal to read poetry in a pub without a licence. And with the widely-applied catch-all law of "causing alarm, harassment or distress" pretty much anyone can be arrested for doing anything unusual.

Kay Tie

"It increasingly amuses me that despite that fact that I suspect Kay Tie is somewhere to right of Attila the Hun"

I'm a libertarian. Left and Right are meaningless to me: I'm far Right on fiscal issues, far Left on social issues. I hate the likes of Simon Heffer and Norman Tebbit every bit as much as Arthur Scargill and Tony Woodley.

The Left wish for strong government to confiscate property and create an equal society. The Right wish for strong government to preserve vested interests and make society conform. I wish for weak government because generally speaking people self-organise better than government can.

patrick

If the criterion for stoning is corruption then we wouldn't have enough innocent people in society to do the stoning.

Everybody i know breaks the law , fiddles their accounts, buys goods at cash to avoid VAT, pays workmen cash etc, etc.

It will never be possible to get 650 honest representatives from a dishonest society.


valleylad

It increasingly amuses me that despite that fact that I suspect Kay Tie is somewhere to right of Attila the Hun, many of her(?) posts have my total agreement! (e.g. the one above).

We've reached a situation where most people believe most politicians lie on a continuum from avaricious & self serving through totally incompetent and on to criminally corrupt. All of those who are in the above continuum (e.g. Malik -> Smith -> Moran -> Morley) need purging from politics (public stonings would be my preferred "reasonable and proportionate" approach). Letting these scum "stand down" and trouser even more cash offends natural justice.

We can then leave politics to those who have come out of this exposure with clean hands.

Kay Tie

"Mad? Yes. Dishonest? Yes. Illegal? Probably not."

Flipping. No, not illegal, since the Green Book says a member can re-designate once per year. A serial mover like Hazel Blears can operate entirely within the rules (including the regulations on CGT) and not be breaking any law.

The Green Book doesn't attempt define "main home" (citing the term "main or only residence" from other resolutions and legislation). It leaves the member to specify the main home based on their circumstances. Thus designating a home as a main home when it is not the main residence is misrepresentation. Misrepresentation to make a financial gain is a criminal offence under the Fraud Act.

When it comes to renting a flat from a relative (e.g. the appropriately named Mr. Cash) the Green Book is quite clear:

"PAAE must not be used to meet the costs of renting a property from yourself; a partner or family member (including a spouse or civil partner); a close business associate; or an organisation or company in which you or a family member have an interest (other than as an ordinary investor)"

A prosecutor would have to prove that Mr. Cash made a gain and acted dishonestly, i.e. establish mens rea. Ironic, since Parliament is now very keen on rubber-stamping an increased use of "strict liability" laws, where no proof of criminal intent is required to be found guilty.

If Parliament were to make expenses fiddling a criminal offence of strict liability then hundreds of MPs could be carted off to jail, even the ones who had no criminal intent and merely made mistakes. You might like to think about such injustice the next time you vote for a criminal law that has strict liability attached.

DG

"Checking in the Green Book it says that MPs can choose to describe their bijou flats or their ten bedroom mansiona as a main/second home."

Yes, but only if it IS their main/second home, surely?

And I couldn't care less right now about David Davis' Laura Ashley cabinet. No good worrying about a splinter while impaled on a fance post.

Chris Carter

An off-topic point, but I read the Argus again today and it appears David Davies spent £475 on a Laura Ashley Cabinet, with the quote

"I needed a cabinet to put things in, but in hindsight, perhaps I could have bought a slightly cheaper one."

He is also putting his expenses on his website.

No duckhouses though hopefully.

Paul Flynn

KayTie, I may have mentioned before that when I called for the Home Secretary to go because of flipping, not in my worst nightmares did i suspect that hundreds of MPs were doing the same thing. Checking in the Green Book it says that MPs can choose to describe their bijou flats or their ten bedroom mansions as a main/second home. Mad? Yes. Dishonest? Yes. Illegal? Probably not.

DG

"The pace at which the Police pursue prosecutions is outside the influence of parliament"

I used to believe that. I believe that there's not much you personally can do about it. But where else can I go to complain about this? The police?

"Which law in this case?"

What Kay Tie said. Section 2 of the Fraud Act.

http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/d_to_g/fraud_act/#a08

I can see that some might argue that it would be impossible to prove that the offenses were committed dishonestly. But it also says that this is for a jury to decide.

Dishonestly

The Ghosh (Note: [1982] 1QB 1053) definition applies:

Was what was done dishonest by the ordinary standards of reasonable and honest people? (Judging by the public reaction...)

Must the Defendant have realised that what he was doing was, by those standards, dishonest?

It should be remembered that the question of 'dishonesty' is one for the jury and submissions of no case to answer should not be acceded based on the issue of dishonesty.

God bless the internet.

Kay Tie

Misrepresenting main residence is breaking the rules and fraud. Serial moving home (which I believe we're calling flipping) isn't breaking the rules. It is taking the piss, though.

Paul Flynn

The pace at which the Police pursue prosecutions is outside the influence of parliament. Quite rightly.

Flipping is wrong and I have never done it. But it is precisely permitted in the Green Book rules. Before anyone can be prosecuted for this, they must first be accused of breaking a law. Which law in this case?

Kay Tie

"If I claimed Child Benefit for 3 kids that didn't exist, how long do you think the police would *consider* whether or not to feel my collar? What is taking so long?"

The police arrest for all kinds of trivial "suspicion" these days (refusing to submit to a voluntary search is now deemed suspicious by the Met and therefore grounds for arrest - which then results in a search!). So nothing surprises me about the bent-and-twisted blue line any more.

Where MPs haven't misrepresented circumstances then no investigation can be expected. Where MPs have misrepresented circumstances (e.g. main home) then there are good grounds for an investigation for fraud (benefit fraud is nearly always down to such misrepresentation - and almost never down to identity fraud, something the Home Office curiously glosses over when making the case for its odious ID card scheme).

There is a private prosecution of Jacqui Smith wending its way through the system. The magistrate told the complainant that he had to take his complaint to the Met first, but if they didn't investigate he could come back to court to take the matter further. If the Met don't investigate her then we can expect a private summons..

DG

Sorry to come back to this unpleasant topic, but in the below article

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/may/29/elliot-morley-mps-expenses

a certain line struck me.

"Scotland Yard is also *considering* whether to launch a criminal investigation."

If I claimed Child Benefit for 3 kids that didn't exist, how long do you think the police would *consider* whether or not to feel my collar? What is taking so long?

Richard T

The debate is perhaps potentially sterile. The starting point has to be how a developed economy can provide itself with a stable, continuous supply of electricity. This does beg some green questions but I woiuld go forward on the assumption that the minimalist green world picture is unattainable. The next point is how it can do so at minimum cost with minimum public subsidy. There are currently 3 main options for generation - nuclear, coal and gas. Wind power cannot deliver large scale secure supply and certainly not without a subsidy at elast as large as that which nuclear power entails. Wave power is lawys goign to be small scale and tidal power is a long way off unless estuary barrages are built and I have always been sceptical of a Severn barrage simply because of the amount of debris in suspension in the river. So realistically we have 3 choices for mass generation each of which has objections against it - I'd rule gas out as it will both aggravate the direct gas market and accelrate imports; nuclear is to an extent risky and certainly expensive; coal is dirty but capable of cleaner combustion and with carbon capture. I'd go for some nuclear with a lot of coal and damn the greens.

In passing, I wonder why Labour have not hung the destruction of the CEGB round the Tory neck. Nationalised it might have been but it kept the lights on, planned ahead, designed ahead and bought British to keep a strategic manufacturing capacity. It also trained a lot of very capable engineers. Lord Marshall was absolutely right when he fought Milords Parkindon and Wakeham

rwendland

The 2009 update of the respected 2003 MIT nuclear cost study has nuclear coming out more expensive than gas or coal even with carbon pricing at $25/tCO2 (or $92/tC). I've not followed the carbon pricing debate, but is carbon pricing at a higher level than this likely?

While $25/tCO2 doesn't make nuclear cheaper, it does make gas cheaper than coal (without CCS), which may be a plus.

The prices MIT estimates (in US¢/kWh) are:

no carbon pricing: coal:6.2 gas:6.5 nuc:8.4

$25/tCO2: gas:7.4 coal:8.3 nuc:8.4

As you can see, without carbon pricing nuclear power is extremely uneconomic. (With U.S. costings, but I don't suppose UK is very different.)


http://web.mit.edu/nuclearpower/pdf/nuclearpower-update2009.pdf

NB Most other "nuclear cost studies" use an unrealisticly low cost of capital to make nuclear look more economic. The MIT study uses a more sophisticated split debt/equity model with realistic equity risk premiums. The MIT study shows why financiers are not leaping to fund new nuclear build. If you believe pro-nuclear studies like the 2004 RAE one, you have to wonder why profit-hungry financiers haven't already started dozens of nuclear builds!

Paul Flynn

MH, I believe New Nuclear to be as hopelessly uneconomis as Old Nucler. Politicians have become mesmerised by the nuclear lobbyists.

MH

Paul, even after reading this several times I still can't figure out exactly what your position is.

I think you are probably right to say that nuclear can't go ahead (i.e. can't be made to be economic) unless there are more subsidies ... or higher minimum price and minimum quota guarantees, at least.

But are you saying that the UK government should come up with such subsidies so that nuclear can go ahead? Or are you saying that they shouldn't ... and that nuclear should therefore not go ahead?

Perhaps you have answered this previously. If so, please forgive my ignorance and remind me and others of what you said before. The figures are just one part of it. What you (as an elected politician) actually want to see the government DO is what interests me more.

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