Monday 7 April 2014

Maria Miller...still hanging on

The press really don't like her do they? I mean Guido I can understand as he has always made a good point about holding politicians to account for their expenses inadequacies. On this one point he is neutral in the neutron bomb sense of the word that it does not matter who you are, punishment for wrongdoing will be exposed.

The wider Press are clearly going for her becuase she is the Culture Secretarty and they think removing her will make their life easier for post Leveson media regulation. That she has not exactly behaved humbly in the whole episode must be a strong contributory factor.

It is interesting to see whether she will manage to hang-on even with Camerson's backing. His record on this is not good (see Andrew Mitchell) and this story is too personal to the Press for them to let it go.

On a slightly wider note, I am a fan of MP's being paid more and given less. More money but less expenses for offices and houses which they abuse absurdly - as anyone would, which we can see from the fact all MP's in all Parties do so continuously - to their own benefit. If the true cost of an MP and expenses is around £100,000 or £120,000 then we should pay them that and stop this crazy funding of second homes and offices.

Even I find it distastfeul that second homes can be claimed at taxpayers expense and then profits booked as personal, tax free, gifts. When these sums are into the over one million of pound bracket as they have been for many MP's, it beggars belief. In no private company would employees have such a perk.

Clearly though the expenses scandals will not recede whilst real and balanced reform is avoided - so we will be stuck with it forever.



Jan said...

There should be a cull of both MPs and Lords....if there were fewer we would be able to keep a better eye on them and they might be able to all fit into the debating chambers more easily...

Let's have the promised boundary changes and compulsory retirement of doddery Lords.

hovis said...

I can see the argument for increasing pay and reducing expenses. However imho it is cultural expectations within the group (i.e. poltical class) that are more relevent to corruption than pay. Did you know Nigerian MP are among the highest paid in the world at approximately $190k before graft?

Of course one of the arguments in the C19th that the aristocracy advanced for their right to rule was that rich men couldnt be bought.

Demetrius said...

It is a great pity that MP's etc. were not housed in one of recently redundant barracks in central London. Reveille say at 6.a.m., fatigues then marched off to work at 8.30. I would certainly have volunteered to give them their morning work outs on the parade ground.

Bill Quango MP said...

Hey! I like having a London pad. Just an Two hours from the constituency home.

When I was a nal manager with the Midlands, South East and Scotland as territory the firm never offered to buy me a house in Dundee and Birmingham.

john miller said...

This is, in the view of MPs, the expenses dept and HMRC, entirely acceptable.

Tell one organ of the State that A is you main residence and B is your second home, so the taxpayer picks up the tab for house B.

When you sell B, tell HMRC that B is your main home and trouser the profit tax free.

No need to bother with the complex rules HMRC apply to thee and me when deciding on the level of CGT.

Try that yourself and see what happens.

K said...

Can anyone elaborate on how expenses like these would be handled in a private businesses?

I reckon claiming for rent would be legit but claiming for mortgage would imply that the business owns the house and neither the business itself nor HMRC would let you pull that off.

Blue Eyes said...

I agree CU, as usual. Pay them enough so they can afford to pay for their second home and travel expenses out of their salary OR make it a fixed benefit in line with the rent on a standard inner London one-bed plus a fixed sum in travel costs. Allow them a state-appointed PA from the pool.

The current setup is crazy. Especially as even when they go beyond what is allowed they get to keep their ill-gotten gains. In any other profession Miller would be struck off/sued to buggery.

Also, what planet is Cameron on? He seems to have very poor judgement in these matters. At least Clegg had the sense to let Laws quit at the first hint of trouble.

Bill Quango MP said...

k. In business that I have worked in it was purely expenses. So if you had to rent a flat or house, that was expenses.
When I had to go to Scotland once a fortnight for 2 days, it was the air travel and overnight accom, car rental, and a meal allowance.Much as you would expect. And anything that had to be brought, like fresh clothes if some catastrophe occurred, that too.

The Foreign office, amongst other gov depts, used to give a resettlement allowance which was pretty generous. For someone who had been stationed in Moscow for 5 years to come and buy a home back in the UK there was a decent cash amount given tax free based on years service.

The reason was these people were away long time and may not have come back to UK for 5-10-20 years.

I don't know if it still applies.
But with UK house prices going berserk it might not be as generous as it once was.

Digogenes said...

I think @Demetrius has it. Just like Judges who are accommodated while sitting, so to could MP's. After all since they bonk each other anyway (Nigel Evans passim) then it makes it much more convenient - and secure from the press - for it to be done in a safe house.

dearieme said...

" Judges who are accommodated while sitting": this was investigated some years ago. English judges were found to be an extravagance: Scots judges proved much more economical.

Blue Eyes said...

I suggested this when the scandal hit all those years ago, and nominated the Heygate Estate as being big enough and central enough. It would be safe, too, because not even rats will go near it these days.

CityUnslicker said...

@BE, indeed the Govt is buisy selling off much of whitehall to developers when the buildings sit ready to be utilised and ina secure zone already.

Electro-Kevin said...

With second homes in London it is clear why politicians might wish to see houses priced out of reach and all the attendant policies to make it so.

A vested interest for sure.

Steven_L said...

EK, are you suggesting they are paid on commission?

Even if she is honest, she's too dumb to follow basic HR procedures and fill forms in accurately. Surely that's reason enough to sack her from high officer isn't it?

TheFatBigot said...

There are two central issues here.

First, MPs representing constituencies outside commuting distance to London should be provided with expenses to allow them somewhere to live in or near London.

Secondly, and this is the real problem, those from outside London who buy a London property using expenses should not be allowed to keep a greater proportion of profits on sale of the property than the proportion they contributed to the purchase price (including mortgage interest payments).

The disgrace of Mrs Miller is not just that she claimed more expenses than the byzantine regulations allow, it is that the property she bought with assistance from taxpayers was sold for a massive profit without the poor downtrodden getting a single penny of the profit.

It wasn't so long ago that the proposition I have set out would have been considered so obvious that it did not need stating.

These days the career-politician gravy train seems both so corrupt and so corrupting that ministers pocket hundreds of thousands without a single thought that some of that fat wedge was "earned" as a result of money the little plebs paid on PAYE.

Mrs Miller will be gone in a week or two because her venal greed will haunt next year's election if she remains in position.

Perhaps I am not the only one who is grateful for this episode because it has allowed me to see the greedy, corrupt, troughing face of a cabinet minister who was previously utterly anonymous in features, speech and deed.

john in cheshire said...

Remuneration of MPs should be determined annually by the constituency that they are supposed to represent. If that means MPs from poorer parts of the country are paid less than those from more affluent places, then that's life and they should experience it just as their constituents are forced to.

Anonymous said...

Expenses scandal should be addressed by placing the expenses of an MP online, and funded directly by a levy on the Council tax which would appear like the police or water & sewerage on the Council tax bill.

That seems win win, devolving individual MPs expenses away from Parliament and the executive, and keeping any rows local.

But also, giving local electors a leash for their rabid MPs.

Anonymous said...

Yea, what John in Cheshire said.

Electro-Kevin said...

Steven L - All policies which accelerate London house prices may be viewed with less trepidation by MPs owning London houses.