Thursday, 29 October 2009

Why can’t they do this now?

From the Telegraph:

MPs will no longer be able to cash in on lucrative resettlement allowances if they stand down at future general elections or are defeated.

Current rules mean MPs are given up to £60,000 – almost a full year’s salary - when they leave the Commons.

The system has been called into disrepute after The Daily Telegraph’s expenses disclosures led to a number of MPs announcing they would stand down at next year’s election because of questionable claims.

However, because they are staying until the election they still qualify for the taxpayer-funded “golden goodbye.”

It means MPs such as Elliot Morley, the former Labour minister who was exposed for claiming £16,000 for a mortgage that had already been paid off, will still get the pay-off. Others, such as David Wilshire, the Conservative MP who channelled expenses through a company run with his wife, are in the same position.

Only Ian Gibson, the Labour MP who stood down over his expenses during the parliament and caused a by-election, does not qualify for the parachute payment.

Under the new rules, which will be unveiled by Sir Christopher Kelly next week, the maximum amount that MPs will be able to claim is around £10,000, close to two months salary.

So far 114 MPs across all parties have said they will not stand at the next election. That figure is certain to rise as a number of MPs will decide just before the election is called that are retiring.

However, the system will not come into force until the election after next. It means MPs like Mr Morley and Mr Wilshire will still be in line for the big pay off.

Those MPs marking time before they stand down still accrue pension rights and then, on stepping down, are able to claim the resettlement grant, the first £30,000 of which is tax free.

According to the Green Book setting out Commons allowances, the grant is “to assist former Members with the costs of adjusting to non-parliamentary life”.

At the last election a total of 136 MPs left the Commons. It cost the taxpayer £5.3 million in pay-offs.

The resettlement grants are based on an MP’s age and the time they have served at Westminster. The minimum is more than £32,000, but many can claim much more. Douglas Hogg, the Conservative MP who claimed for cleaning his moat, will be eligible for £59,584.

A number of other perks are also going to be taken away from MPs including the £25-a-day allowance for food and subsistence.

The controversial £10,000-a-year communications allowance will also be scrapped. The allowance was condemned by some MPs for effectively being a “spin” budget for all MPs to promote themselves to voters.

Sir Christopher will also address the issue of MPs’ travel. MPs will only be able to claim for first class train fares in specific circumstances where it can be shown to represent value for money.

The current system of allocating travel passes to the spouses of MPs will also be subject to new limits.

After all there are still six months to the Election.


Angus Dei on all and sundry



Monday, 26 October 2009

A different reality

It appears that there has been space/time disaster, one of the Miliband clones; David I think has slipped through the rift from another reality.

Speaking on radio 4 today the intrepid dimensional traveller said “Britain's influence on the world will "wane" unless it takes a lead in developing European Union foreign policy”

And “a strong EU should not be opposed on the grounds of "hubris (Overbearing pride or presumption; arrogance:) nostalgia or xenophobia".

In a speech in London, Mr Miliband said the alternative was to become an "irrelevance" in a world dominated by China and the United States.

He must have come from a world where Britain has influence on the world, and somebody actually gave a shit what he or any other politician says, and just to prove the point:-

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's World at One, Mr Miliband repeated the government's support for former Prime Minister Tony Blair becoming the first president of the EU, saying it was "hugely" in Britain's national interest.



Angus Dei on all and sundry



Saturday, 24 October 2009

24 hour drinking a mistake-Gordon brown

Just a link and a comment today:

Gordon Brown says he was never happy with 24 hour drinking and will create powers to curb it in areas where binge drinking is a problem.

Yet another U-Turn by Gord, I think that anyone with common sense knew that allowing 24 hour drinking was a mistake, and now it seems that Gord and his gang have found a brain cell, probably in his handkerchief.

If he was never happy with the policy why oh why did he allow it to become law?

Dark room, arse and torch come to mind.


Angus Dei on all and sundry



Tuesday, 20 October 2009

The CPS wants to cut back their workload

And they want to do it by letting Persistent criminals escape punishment even when there is overwhelming evidence against them under new plans allowing prosecutors to overlook minor offences, senior lawyers have warned.

Hundreds of offenders may escape charges because court action would not be deemed “proportionate” to their crimes, under guidelines that set out the most significant changes to prosecution principles in 90 years.

The proposals are intended to encourage “common sense” to be used in the justice system – for example, forgiving a householder accused of assault when making a citizen’s arrest on a burglar. However senior lawyers said that they could prevent justice being done.

Under current rules, in operation since the 1920s, the Crown Prosecution Service can only consider whether enough evidence has been gathered against an offender and whether court action is in the public interest. However plans contained in an updated code for prosecutors drawn up by Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, introduce a new proportionality test.

The proposals, which could apply to crimes ranging from fraud to theft, shoplifting, minor assault and criminal damage, are designed to balance for the first time the cost and time involved in bringing a prosecution with the seriousness of a crime and the harm it has caused.

The changes, which are scheduled to come into force next year, would also allow the CPS to escape criticism for bringing cases against otherwise impeachable characters accused of minor misdemeanours. However, complex fraud trials, which can be extremely long and expensive to pursue could also fall under its scope.

Sources indicated that it was also aimed at cases where a previous offender who had been given a conditional discharge, later stole a small item from a shop. That sort of minor breach would normally trigger an immediate jury trial, costing tens of thousands of pounds. However under the new guidelines, the CPS would be free not to prosecute.

David Davies, the Tory MP who is a member of the Home Affairs selection committee, said the new guidelines in the Crown Prosecution Service consultation paper, were “disgraceful” and amounted to a “criminals’ charter”.

“This is another blow for those who believe that criminals should be punished,” he said.

"In certain very limited situations, it is right to take into account whether a prosecution is a proportionate response to the specific offending when deciding the most appropriate course of action," the new guidelines state.

Dan Hyde, a criminal lawyer at Cubism Law, said the introduction of the proportionality clause presents an opportunity to avoid wasting resources on spurious trials.

"One would hope it might avoid prosecutions which are patently unwarranted and which undermine public confidence in the police and CPS.

"They are trying to add a bit of commonsense to the decision making process. There is a ‘touchy-feely’ attitude to the whole thing.

“If applied correctly, it could see a situation where you stand back and take a look at it as a particular course of action.

"If a lawyer can see there might be public outrage if someone is prosecuted because they have committed a trivial offence, it allows them to say ‘hold on – it is disproportionate to prosecute that person’.”

Recent cases that might never have gone to trial under the new system include that of Renate Bowling, a disabled 71-year-old pensioner who was hauled before the courts and charged with assault after she prodded a teenager in the chest with her finger when stones were thrown at her home.

Another is the example of £20,000 of taxpayers’ money being wasted taking a man to court for taking a banana worth 25p during a drunken night out with his friends in Birmingham.

The CPS is now seeking views of lawyers and the public on the new code, which also contains eight new factors on when it will not be in the public interest to bring charges. These include cases where the offender will use a court appearance to repeat views which will cause distress to another section of society, and cases in which prosecutors or police have previously promised an offender that a prosecution would not be brought.

There are two new public interest factors that would make a prosecution more likely. Under one of these, charges will be more likely if the offence has led to complaints from a community, who either live in the same geographical area or share common "characteristics" or interests.

This is an attempt to ensure that prosecutors respond effectively to problems such as anti-social behaviour which is disturbing local residents.

OK, what we have is an untenable policy by the CPS, the thin end of the wedge if you like; it really is about time that the “law” in this country changed its stance and looked toward the victims of crimes instead of pussy footing around trying to make their own life easier, theft is theft. Whether it is a 25p banana or a £1000 TV taken during a burglary.

Is it ‘proportionate’ to prosecute a drunken driver who has killed someone but not ‘proportionate’ to prosecute them if they haven’t?

That surely is the whole concept of “Law”, if you offend you are punished for the good of the majority, if this “idea” is accepted the phrase “the law is an ass” will finally be true.



Angus Dei on all and sundry



Monday, 19 October 2009

Piss Poor Labour

From the Telegraph: revaluation of business rates from next April is set to hit the sites of car boot sales, including pub car parks, ministers confirmed.

Barbara Follett, the Communities Minister, confirmed the plans in a written answer to shadow communities secretary Caroline Spelman, saying: ''Where a property is used entirely, or on occasion, as a car boot sale site, its rateable value for the 2010 revaluation should reflect any rental enhancement attributable to that use.''

The Valuation Office Agency is set to revalue business rates in England and Wales in April 2010. For car boot sales, these rates will be on top of those charged by the council.

This lack lustre, lack policy, lack common sense, lack care, lack prudence so called Government is taking the piss yet again, car boot sales are an economic means for people to furnish their homes, they go to car boot sales because the piss poor policies of Labour have plunged the man in the street into the economic black hole.

And can’t afford to buy new, unless he wants to use the “Pay Weekly” companies that charge close to 30% per annum, or take out a three year HP agreement with “furniture companies”, and as that isn’t happening some pointy head in number 10 has decided that the Gov will be able to rake in some more tax from the “poor”.

Piss poor thinking from a piss poor Government, screw those who have the least, for Labour insert Conservative, there seems to be no difference between them.

Angus (pissed off).

Angus Dei on all and sundry



Saturday, 17 October 2009

Andrew Walker-Who?

Andrew Walker is the man who since 1977 or 1997 depending on which newspaper you read has “run” the Fees Office for MPs expenses; he is a civil servant earning £125,000 per year He also used to be HR director at the Inland Revenue, which is perfect training to administer a multi million pound expenses office and handling complex tax and monetary issues.

He got the job at Parliament without any background in financial administration. His degree was in ancient Eastern studies, according to the Telegraph.

According to records in Hansard, Walker was due to complete an accountancy qualification last year, and until that point was being assisted by "appropriately qualified and experienced staff" in the office.

Oh yes this is the man who “rubber stamped” those MPs claims for moats, duck houses, manure, light bulbs, flowers, fake beams, cleaning, gardening, wide screen TVs and porn films.

Last year the man in charge of checking MPs’ expenses declared that he had virtually no ability to scrutinise their claims beyond a “common sense” test. Andrew Walker, the Commons resources director, said that responsibility for policing expenses lay with voters; they could eject an MP from Parliament if he or she had been exploiting the system.

“There is an ultimate responsibility for the member because of the constitutional position. There are limits . . . to which I or my staff can look beyond the claims and the information we receive. Therefore, for the most part we don’t walk into constituency offices. "What we do check is that the original claim is sensible.”

He is quite good at defending MPs-- 8 February 2008

Journalists should not be told exactly what MPs claim on expenses in case it affects their ability to do their job and damages British democracy, the Information Tribunal heard yesterday.

Andrew Walker, head of the House of Commons Fees Office, said that such scrutiny into MPs' lives, such as finding out how much MPs spend on phone bills, improvements on their second homes and hotel bills, would “discourage able people from entering politics”.

He said: “If MPs spend all their time having to defend why they had changed this avocado suite to a white one when it was only ten years old…they are not spending time working for their constituents.

“My view is that it has gone far enough and is intrusion into members’ private lives.”

One of the definitions of a civil servant is “The term civil service has two distinct meanings: * Branch of governmental service in which individuals are hired on the basis of merit which is proven by the use of competitive examinations. * Body of employees in any government agency, except the military.”

Back in May this year Scotland Yard were preparing to send in officers to quiz workers in the Fees office about the rules governing claims.

Have you heard anything about the outcome?

I am not going into detail about the ‘flipping, and designated homes’ because to be honest it is boring, and it seems that even if you are caught the only punishment you get is to make a half hearted apology to the House of Commons and a seat in the House of Lords.

I suppose the point of this post is not to absolve MPs from the full fury of the public, they deserve it, but there are always two sides to any story and this side is about a Civil Servant who has been in the same post for 32 or 12 years depending on which newspaper you read , who isn’t qualified, who doesn’t have a voice, or he would have said something to someone about the “help yourself” expenses rules.

A man who thinks that it is the voter’s fault that the expenses thing happened, and who doesn’t think that the public has a right to know.

A man whose idea of a “common sense test” is to allow all and every claim that floats through his office, and has no idea of audits or value for money.

Yes the MPs are to blame for their part in this debacle, but isn’t Mr Walker at least morally to blame for his lack of action over 32 years of “service”?
And I wonder what expenses he claims?

Still, even if he does go he will have a nice pension to look forward to.
Post amended on 21st october 2009 to satisfy a Numpty

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Will it ever end?

David Wilshire it seems has paid £105,000 over three years to pay a company he set up to run his office, but has insisted it was approved by the authorities.

The firm, Moorlands Research Services, is owned solely by him and his partner.

Mr Wilshire, the Conservative member for Spelthorne, says he has asked the Standards Commissioner to investigate.

Parliamentary rules say MPs must ensure that claims do not give rise to an improper personal financial benefit to themselves - or give the appearance that they are benefitting improperly.

Mr Wilshire, who said he was "deeply hurt" by the claims, told the BBC that he had referred himself to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner as the only way to answer the questions about his expenses.

"My constituents are rightly entitled to the truth about these allegations. I have therefore written to the commissioner for standards asking him to conduct an enquiry.

"Until I have had an opportunity to take his advice, I think it best if I say nothing further."

Although he could not confirm the amounts of money involved, Mr Wilshire stressed that neither he nor his partner Ann Palmer had ever received any payment from Moorlands Research Services.

Mr Wilshire also confirmed that his designated main home is in Somerset, more than 100 miles from his constituency on the south-west outskirts of London.

Widdecombe is on her box complaining about the expenses review, Jacqui Smith is grovelling, Mandelson is sort of for the review, and Gord is urging MPs to pay up, probably because it has just cost him £12,415.

Do they actually do any work in parliament, or is the 16 weeks and 2 days a year that Parliament sits taken up with the expenses debacle?


Angus Dei on all and sundry



Saturday, 10 October 2009

Twitter Twat Bradshaw manages to Balls it up again

The late Health Secretary Benny (Lego) Bradshaw has managed to upset All and Sundry by having a pop at “Dave” Cameron on Twitter over praise for the NHS care his late son received before his death.

Following his second twitter gaffe in three days, which was greeted with shock and outrage by fellow users of the social networking site, Mr Bradshaw issued an online clarification in which he said that he had not meant to offend the Tory leader and his wife.

But he failed to apologise, and his spokesman later reiterated his attack by saying that the Camerons had experienced good care only thanks to Labour’s investment in the NHS.

In an apparent response to “Dave’s” speech, Mr Bradshaw, a frequent Twitterer who was criticised for using the network to accuse the BBC of pro-Conservative bias, wrote: “the Cameroons got good NHS care thanks to Labour's investment and reform. Is this the ‘big government’ he derides” [sic]

I am not a fan of “Dave” but Benny boy Bradshaw has a bit of a history of not quite being able to see the consequences of his gob:- Benny is playing with his Lego again

Benny, it really is time to go, you will probably be a ‘non’ MP before long, so just put us all out our misery and BUGGER OFF before you drop yourself even further into ‘Brown’s runny stuff’


Angus Dei on all and sundry



Monday, 5 October 2009

Usual load of old bollocks

What can you say? It’s the Tories turn to try to ingratiate themselves into the electorates' psyche.

There are the usual “pledges”; crack down on people on benefit, spend more on the NHS, give us a vote on the Lisbon treaty when they know full well that it will be too late if they get into power.

You can read the “pledges” Here; number six looks interesting-help the rich again, clobber the poor with number two, and no mention of how to get us out of the ‘Brown’ runny stuff we are in.

I may be a cynic but it is the same old same old, isn’t it?


Thursday, 1 October 2009

Gord’s got the hump

Gord is a bit miffed during an interview with Adam Boulton from Sky news yesterday.

Well actually he got a bit more than miffed-Mr Brown was clearly angry at being repeatedly challenged over his leadership when he wanted to talk about policy. On two occasions, he got up to leave when the interviews were over but while the cameras were still rolling.

The most heated clash was with Sky News. Mr Brown’s impatience was clear as he was questioned over his refusal to confirm whether he would take part in a television debate with other party leaders in the run-up to the election. Downing Street believes that Sky News has become “obsessed” with the issue.

Mr Brown is expected to agree to take part in a three-way debate with David Cameron and Nick Clegg, but the commitment was not going to be announced this week after a leak during the summer.

But pressed by Adam Boulton, the Sky News political editor, Mr Brown said: “You are sounding a bit like a political propagandist yourself.”

He went on to accuse the journalist of being “obsessed” with the Labour leadership, adding: “You have not given me the chance to talk about the economy.”

Asked about a comment from Lord Mandelson that the public could not see through a “filter” to the Prime Minister’s real character, Mr Brown snapped: “He was probably talking about the media.”

Labour last night seized on a daily poll which showed that the Conservative lead had been cut and was now just seven points.

Poor old Gord, made a cock up of the economy, is about as popular as herpes, and really doesn’t like to be questioned about leadership.

You can see the interview here. The good bit is toward the end.