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The Great M.P. Expenses Scandal

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Speaker of the House, Michael Martin, has refused to step down in spite of all parties calling for his resignation.

Speaker of the House, Michael Martin, has refused to step down in spite of all parties calling for his resignation.

Over the last month a debate has been raging over the perks and expenses that have been paid out to Members of Parliament over the period 2006-2007.

Some pretty shocking numbers and lists have been banded around, but we will come to them later.

Most MPs have two homes, their main one in their constituency, and a small flat in London.  At least that was the theory.  Now some of them have flats worth multi-millions  to live in London and have amassed a property portfolio in their constituencies.  Not only that but they have furnished them lavishly at the expense of the taxpayer.

Shaun Woodward

Shaun Woodward

One example would be Shaun Woodward, secretary for Northern Ireland,  who amassed seven homes while claiming the maximum second home allowance for a £1.35 million flat in London.

And all of this while we are being made redundant by the score, and have just been saddled with public debt in figures we can scarcely begin to imagine.

The worst bit is that it now seems that the Speaker of the House, the one man who could put the brakes on all this cost,  has been in direct collusion with them.  Michael Martin has refused to resign in spite of call from both halves of the house.

So who claimed how much?

Shahid Malik claimed £187,000 in expenses in the period 2006-07

Shahid Malik claimed £185,421 in expenses in the period 2006-07

Well right at the top of the scale we have the Minister for Justice, Shahid Malik.  His claims, all apparently very legal, if morally dubious, added up to a staggering sum of £185, 421.  The public outcry seems to have done little to sway the Dewsbury M.P.  He gave an amount to charity to fob off his detractors, while managing one of the poorest communities in the north of England. (Source: Metro)

Ed Balls swapped the designation of his second home three times in a two year period.

Ed Balls swapped the designation of his second home three times in a two year period.

Further down the list, we have the education secretary and M.P. for Normanton, Ed Balls, who claimed £157,000 in 2006-07.  In May 2009, it was revealed that Mr Balls and his wife  swapped or ‘flipped’ the designation of their second home no less than three times in a 24-month period, in order to fund a small property portfolio, despite being warned several times by expenses officials that their claims were hugely excessive.  (Source: Wikipedia)

Evan Harris

Evan Harris

Not far behind him we have  we have my own M.P. for Abingdon, Evan Harris, claiming £147,916.  Myself and my partner pay £129 a month in council tax.  Where is that money going, we now have to ask?

Further down the list we have George Galloway, Respect M.P. for Gaza North, with £107,000.

Ian Duncan Smith, former Tory leader,  claimed £104,000.

His Holiness Tony Blair claimed remarkably little, with only £97,000.

By far the cheapest politician was the Beast of Bodmin, Dennis Skinner, with only £64,000.

Other MPs have been claiming for mortgages they have apparently paid off years ago.  And all of this under the nose of Mr Martin.

Some of the things M.P.s  have claimed range from top of the range plasma screen televisions to tampons (curiously claimed by a man).

But wil all this lead to a mass resignations by Members of Parliment?  Don’t hold your breath.  But Labour seem to have suffered the least damage.  The lions share of the expenses were taken, unsurprisingly by the Conservatives.  One of them claimed, without any irony, £300 for horse manure.  Others have huge sprawling country seats that always need repair, not to mention their more high mantainance lifestyle.

No particular party seems to have won this argument, indeed the only loser, as usual, seems to be the tax payer.  And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, means you and me.

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Written by Nick Gilmartin

May 18, 2009 at 8:30 pm

Posted in in the news, Politics

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