"outreach activity", let's all have some if we're all in it together!
£96,000 cost of Commons Speaker John Bercow 'gallivanting' round world.
Expenses questions: Commons Speaker John Bercow
04 July 2013
Commons Speaker John Bercow faced questions today over his expenses today after it emerged he amassed a £96,000 travel bill “gallivanting” around the world.
Costs incurred by Mr Bercow and his entourage included £16,000 on travel in a chauffeur-driven car and £63,000 on flights.
It is the first time the Speaker’s taxpayer-funded travels for the full three years since the election have been detailed. The most expensive flight was £11,250 for Mr Bercow and two aides to travel business class to Ottawa in September 2010.
A chauffeur drove him to his official portrait artist, and to Parliament’s spending watchdog just a mile from his workplace. The details were published by Parliament under freedom of information laws.
Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said the Speaker should be “keeping politicians in check in the Commons rather than gallivanting across the globe”. But a Commons spokesman said UK trips enabled him to undertake “outreach activity” and the “vast majority” of travel abroad was economy class.
Stuff the people at the bottom to pay for our ten grand rise.
'Grossly insensitive' plan to sack 200 cleaners from Parliament to fund £10,000 pay rise for MPs
Plan would have limited overall cost of running Parliament despite pay rise
By Simon Walters
PUBLISHED: 02:32, 7 July 2013 | UPDATED: 02:32, 7 July 2013
Reform: Sir Ian Kennedy is set to propose a £10,000 pay rise for all MPs
Government Ministers tried to sack 200 Commons cleaners, cooks and manual workers to justify a £10,000 pay rise for MPs, it was claimed last night.
The aim was to use the £6.5million staff savings to finance the salary hike for MPs and show that the overall cost of running Parliament had not gone up.
But it was rejected after officials warned there would be uproar if MPs sacked low paid workers to give themselves a 15 per cent rise.
The row was disclosed on the eve of a new pay deal for MPs which is expected to say they deserve a £10,000 rise on their £66,396 salary.
All three party leaders have expressed doubts about a big pay rise, but they are powerless to stop it because Parliament handed over control of MPs’ pay to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, headed by Sir Ian Kennedy who has hinted strongly he thought MPs deserved a significant pay hike.
Instead, David Cameron hopes to avoid public furore by showing the overall cost of running Parliament has not gone up.
Commons sources say senior officials have asked Parliamentary chiefs to find ‘substantial savings’ to offset the cost of the MPs’ rise.
Outrage: One proposal would have meant sacking 200 cleaners from the Palace of Westminster.
The officials were told the only way would be to get rid of more than 200 Commons workers, most of whom earn less than £20,000 a year.
The Parliamentary chiefs warned any such move would be ‘grossly insensitive’.
An insider said: ‘The idea that anyone could sack people who earn a fraction of an MPs’ salary to give them an extra ten grand is offensive.’
All in it together: MPs WILL get their £10,000 pay rise.
Regulator to announce 12 per cent award, with automatic annual increases to follow
Oliver Wright Author Biography
Wednesday 10 July 2013
MPs will be handed inflation-busting pay rises of £10,000 a year – worth up to 12 per cent on top of their current salaries.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) is expected to announce that backbench MPs will in future be paid £75,000 and that will then rise automatically every year in line with average earnings. But the pay rise will offset that increase with a crackdown on perks such as meals on expenses and an end to their generous final salary pensions.
The regulator, who took over control of MPs’ pay from Parliament in 2010, will argue that, overall, the new package will only cost the taxpayer a few hundred thousand pounds a year more.
But the prospect of a pay hike is certain to spark anger against a background of austerity and pubic sector wage freezes. The Ipsa chairman Sir Ian Kennedy admitted last week that the 1 per cent cap on public sector pay rises made the job of reviewing MPs’ remuneration more difficult.
But he insisted there was “never a good time” to deal with the issue and warned that avoiding an increase could create another expenses-style crisis as politicians sought to top up their salaries.
The deal to be unveiled this morning is expected to back a 12 per cent rise from the current level of £66,000, to take effect after the general election in 2015.
From then on wages will rise annually in line with average UK earnings, a mechanism that the regulator hopes will ensure the situation is resolved for the long term.
However, the £15 in expenses available for dinner when the House sits beyond 7.30pm will be scrapped – saving hundreds of thousands of pounds a year. There could also be tighter rules on using taxis and restrictions on claiming running costs for second homes, such as contents insurance.
“Golden goodbye” resettlement grants of up to £65,000 that used to be handed to departing MPs will not be brought back.
Instead, those defeated at an election could be entitled to redundancy similar to other public sector organisations.
The proposals will go out for consultation before Ipsa finalises the arrangements in the autumn.
Some MPs have already indicated they would personally decline the rises.
However, it would be almost impossible for the House of Commons to reject the measure overall because it would mean clawing back powers over pay from Ipsa.
In a blog for The Spectator website, the Tory backbencher Conor Burns said it was the “most imperfect” time for a pay rise and questioned whether the timing represented “errant genius or malice” on Ipsa’s part.
“All MPs who are doing their job to any percentage of excellence know that our constituents are feeling very concerned for the future,” he wrote.
“Any spare money they have is going into repairing domestic debt and yet with rising petrol prices, food costs and utility bills not that many have much spare money at all.
“So this week with the backdrop of Conservatives tearing lumps out of Labour on cash and influence and Labour responding by attacking the Conservatives on funding from business, we may see the independent body responsible for setting MPs’ pay recommend a £10,000 pay increase. Leaving aside for a moment whether it is warranted, what exactly would this be saying to the public? Can we seriously on the one hand say that we need public sector pay restraint (the private sector is largely self-frozen), that we must all make sacrifices to repair the economy and reduce the deficit if at the same time we accept a large increase to our basic pay?”
The Labour leader Ed Miliband announced that he would ban MPs from taking on lucrative second jobs if his party were to come to power.
However, David Cameron said he had no intention of following suit, saying he believed that outside experience was useful in the House of Commons.
Former minister Denis MacShane to be charged over expenses
Charge: Denis MacShane
Former Labour MP Denis MacShane is to be charged with false accounting in relation to his parliamentary expenses claims, it was announced today.
The former minister for Europe resigned as Rotherham MP last year after admitting using fake receipts to claim about £7,500 of expenses. Scotland Yard reopened an inquiry into the claims this year after a report by the parliamentary standards watchdog.
Today the Crown Prosecution Service said that MacShane is to face a single charge. Malcolm McHaffie, deputy head of the CPS special crime division, said: “Having thoroughly reviewed the evidence gathered by the police, I have decided there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to bring a criminal charge against Denis MacShane. This charge relates to fraudulent claims with a total value of £12,900.”
He added: “It is alleged that Denis MacShane claimed expenses for research and translation services carried out by a company that did not carry out that work.”
MacShane, who has repaid the money, has said he made no personal gain from the deception, but admitted he had been “foolish” and would take responsibility for his actions by standing down. He is to appear at City of Westminster magistrates’ court on July 30.
Corridors of powder: Drug scandal at the Houses of Parliament after traces of cocaine are found on toilets across Palace of Westminster.
Evidence of class A drug use detected in UK's seat of power.
Chemical swabs found substance on toilet seats and hair dryers.
Drug was also found in toilets close to MPs' offices, away from public areas.
By Sam Webb
PUBLISHED: 10:15, 14 July 2013 | UPDATED: 08:30, 15 July 2013
Evidence of cocaine use has been found inside toilets at the Houses of Parliament, including some just yards from MPs' offices.
Traces of the class A drug were found in nine toilets throughout the Palace Of Westminster, the meeting place of the UK's political elite.
The powder was detected in toilets used by guests at Parliament's bars, as well as cubicles a few yards away from MPs' offices - areas where members of the public are restricted from going.
Not to be sniffed at: Evidence of cocaine use has been uncovered at the Houses of Parliament
Charlie: Possession of cocaine can get you up to seven years in jail
The drug use was uncovered using cocaine indicator swabs, which come up with blue blotches when rubbed on surfaces where the drug has been laid out in lines, such as toilet seats and hairdryers. The swabs are used by the police and customs officers.
As Parliament’s toilets are cleaned regularly, the white powder must have been snorted in the past few hours, according to reporters from The Sun, who did the testing.
Users would have to smuggle the drug past extensive security checks and 500 police officers and guards.
The reporters, acting on a tip-off from a House of Commons insider, claim to have found evidence of the drug in the cubicles of the toilets outside Strangers’ Bar and in private areas close to MPs' offices.
High office: The cocaine use was uncovered using test kits, similar to the one pictured
Tory MP Douglas Carswell was scathing about the find.
He said: 'With decadence comes something rotten. It suggests there is something rotten about the institution itself.'
On two occasions cannabis has been confiscated at Westminster's entry checkpoints since the start of 2008, according to a Freedom of Information request.
A Parliamentary spokesman said: 'Parliament is a public place and we welcome over a million visitors a year who have either direct access to these facilities or access when accompanied.
'Clearly, it is inappropriate to monitor what happens in toilet facilities. In addition, we have issued over 14,000 passes, held by contractors and other third parties, as well as staff of both Houses, Members and their staff.
'Consequently, it is impossible to know who may be involved. Our security searches are focussed on preventing harm to others and the building, not the detection of small amounts of drugs.
'Parliament takes the issue of substance misuse very seriously and offers a range of welfare and health support services for those who need them.'
A few days ago a Parliamentary watchdog said MPs should have an 11 per cent pay rise to £74,000 a year.
In 2005 a German television station found traces of cocaine in 41 of 46 lavatories tested at the European Parliament in Brussels.
Say it as it is where l come from,if you said something offensive to the girls in South London back in the day you got a volley back and if you got handy you may well have got a right hander,why all of a sudden have these women come out of the woodwork?why didn’t they deal with it as it happened?thats what they should have done if they had any respect for themselves,perhaps they had other reasons to keep quiet all this time,long time to have the hump.