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Smart move from the Tory side !


Frederick

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Day 1 the Tories line up with their cheque books to be seen to be paying back monies required by the investigation into expenses. Day 1..Labour seen to be ducking and diving to avoid payment.. threats to take to the courts before they will pay up by some of them , How many votes to the Conservative party will that move be worth I wonder ...perhaps thousands .
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I'm not sure your information is accurate. There is cross-party indignation at what is seen as retrospective rule-changing, and it is highly improbable that Sir Wotshisname Legge's demands are legally enforceable. Imagine that you are given an expenses account: everything you submit is approved, and then several years later you are told to repay it. The real issue is that MPs salaries are hopelessly disproportionate to the importance of their jobs, and rather than risk the sneers of the media by increasing them, successive governments winked at the misuse of the expenses system. What is really worrying is the damage this is doing to democracy. We need representatives who are properly remunerated for the jobs they do. Perhaps the "Daily Telegraph" journalists, most of whom would not get out of bed for the salary an MP gets, might make this their next campaign. But I doubt it.
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I have a problem with what Legg has done. If you forget about politics for a moment and think about a company that allows you to claim expenses. You are normally told or are given a list of what you can claim for. If then, at a later date, they ask for the money back on a genuine claim you have made (i.e. you have claimed something thats on the list) I think you would have the right to complain. The issue would be if for instance you could claim for say getting your grass cut which has absolutely nothing to do with your job then who's fault is it that you are able to claim?

The next issue is morality, even though getting your grass cut and claiming for it is allowed you know that as it has nothing to do with your job so is it morally right for you to claim? Who should we blame, the person claiming because they don't appear to have any morals or the people who included the grass cutting in the list of things you can claim?

With the PM's I think that the latter issue should be dealt with first i.e. a clear and reasonably definitive list of what the PM's are allowed to claim should have been defined and put in to effect immediately. Some moral pressure should be put upon those MP's that have clearly claimed money, which they were entitled to do, to pay it back however you can't really order them to pay it back. These people should be named and it should be indicated if they have paid or not. It would show the electorate the true fibre of the PM's involved.

What I would have liked to have seen, and I suspect many others as well, is Legg gunning for those that have swapped homes to avoid CGT, those that have claimed tax relief on none existing mortgages etc, this is plainly deceitful and in some cases blatantly illegal. In the case of those claiming for none existing items or payments they should be immediately suspended until the issue is resolved. They should also be prosecuted as they have stolen money from the shareholders i.e. the tax payer.

I can see the Tory point of view, bit your lip, pay up, smile and for us it will go away (perhaps).

As one Labour MP said tonight on TV "just when you thought it was safe having kept your head down and out of contact with your constituents up you pop only to be shot at again". Perhaps if they had not claimed for things because they knew it to be morally wrong then they would not have had to 'hide' from their constituents in the first place. I think its all a total mess and will no doubt  carry on for weeks if not months to come.

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One of the most prominent and vocal protesters has been Ann Widdecombe. Since when has she been a Labour MP?

It has already been stated that fear of press ridicule has resulted in the question of realistic salaries for MPs being fudged since the days of Margaret Thatcher. The fact that an MP may live in one part of the country, represent a constituency in another part of the country and have to have accommodation in London has never been properly addressed. The current problems stem from a refusal to look at the problem rationally.

I suppose that we must ask ourselves whether or not we want a legislature which contains independent and free thinking individuals or party poodles. I believe that the real problem in the Westminster model is that the parties are too powerful and that individual members are frightened of attracting the attention of party whips. A few mavericks might make a great difference to our perception of Parliament.

This whole business was started by the Daily Telegraph which has milked it relentlessly. It would be too much to hope that the same journalists might look into the tax avoidance framework established by the Barclay brothers? I'm not suggesting that the Barclays have ever done anything which is illegal or disreputable, but then neither have - possibly - most MPs.

Oh dear, I forgot, the Barclay brothers own the Telegraph ...

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They live on their own island in the Channel, Brecqhou, where the

architect Quinlan Terry built them their own mock-Gothic castle with

3ft-thick granite walls, battlements, two swimming pools and a

helicopter pad.

The £60m home allows them to live as tax exiles....

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 Q - while I have grave misgivings about retrospective legislation in general - doesn't the argument rest on the use of the word 'reasonable' - some of the claims (duckhouse for an easy example) were never 'reasonable'...and as one caller to the Wright stuff said yesterday 'If the Government give you too much Child benefit because they made an error, they still want it back when the error is discovered'

Perhaps the idea of  permanent MP accomodation in constituencies, and goverment owned  MP accomodation in Westminster should be reviewed.

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To quote from a piece in the Independent:

Technically, it is a blatant breach of natural justice. Then again, it is an affront to natural justice to remove the right to silence and trial by jury, kick habeas corpus in the cobblers by extending the period of detention without charge to almost a month, and store the DNA material of the innocent on a database..

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[quote user="Russethouse"]

 Q - while I have grave misgivings about retrospective legislation in general - doesn't the argument rest on the use of the word 'reasonable' - some of the claims (duckhouse for an easy example) were never 'reasonable'...and as one caller to the Wright stuff said yesterday 'If the Government give you too much Child benefit because they made an error, they still want it back when the error is discovered'

Perhaps the idea of  permanent MP accommodation in constituencies, and government owned  MP accommodation in Westminster should be reviewed.

[/quote]

I understand but the thing is as far as I know what MP's can claim for is 'under review' and I believe they are getting an outside body to carry that review out. At present the same rules apply as they did when these claims were made. The simplest thing is to stop PM's expenses until the new rules are formulated and come in to effect then let them make back claims but against those new rules.

Lets face it these people saw an opportunity and took it. The rules and even the expenses office (whatever it's called) said it was OK. The fact that they didn't think 'hang on perhaps its not reasonable or moral for me to make such a claim' never entered their heads they simply took the money viewing it as an entitlement and part of the salary. Your quite right of course it seems there are two sets of rules being applied with regards to what MP's can do and what the rest of us can do. All this under a socialist government, you might expect it under a Tory one but a government that by its political leaning is there to serve and protect the common man shows them, I think, for what they really are. Its' very much a sod you I will look after myself attitude.

 

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I sometimes wonder what parliament is actually  for and what it does.Yes, admendements to laws, new laws etc much of it flawed, and over-hastily brought in. 

Too many MPs are career politicians are have no experience of the REAL world, or knowledge or what is happening out there - or for that matter what laws etc need changing or amending- or have the guts to make unpopular, but necessary changes.

Generally senior civil servants do much of this work, and many MPs seem to believe that commons debates are seriously important - how deluded can you get?

We need far fewer - less than half (the US has a much larger population with proportionally far fewer politicians), and perhaps a small apartment block near Westminster for MPs who would have to travel an hour or more.  The rest can commute as we plebs have to.

Tegwini

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One problem is that many MPs do not live in their constituencies though they maintain a house there for show. In fact they have a main home elsewhere and perhaps a place in London. This has been open to all sorts of fraud as regards flipping and furnishing.

An accurate register of interests should spot that though.

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Yes Q but NOT enough.

Weren't they talking about 10% less  ?   - a mere gesture I feel.

Trouble is the UK government likes the idea of moving taxes around - eg council tax is said to be determined by central gov'ment, paid to them, and paid back by them to local government.

Another example is the 'working tax credit'.  They tax the low paid (more so than in France) and then pay it back to the low paid in          'credits' !    But it does mean they can employ more potential supporters- and manipulate the unemployment figures. And waste tax from those producing something and spend it on something so very unproductive.

No wonder we have main roads with pot holes,   WW2(temp) buildings at the district hospital in Salisbury,   schools with 'mobile' classrooms used for decades and etc  ...

Off topic perhaps, but out here in the sticks I know no one who has any respect or sympathy for UK MPs.

Tegwini

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[quote user="woolybanana"]

One problem is that many MPs do not live in their constituencies though they maintain a house there for show. In fact they have a main home elsewhere and perhaps a place in London. This has been open to all sorts of fraud as regards flipping and furnishing.

An accurate register of interests should spot that though.

[/quote]

I have to say that I find my 'élu' in France far more present in his constituency than my MP was when I lived in the UK.

I have met him 5 times this year in a variety of settings, even though we are far from Paris.

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[quote user="tegwini"]

We need far fewer - less than half (the US has a much larger population with proportionally far fewer politicians),
[/quote]

This is a misconception rooted in the totally different political philosophies of the two countries.

The American constitution assumes that power is exercised at the lowest political level unless otherwise decreed. Government at the federal level can only do what is constitutionally permitted - in effect matters concerned with the union (currency, nationality, national security, national resources etc, national defence and external relations). As Harold Wilson used to point out, the President of the USA has less real day-to-day power than the British prime minister.

Each state (all 50 of them) has its own legislature, judiciary and executive. State structures imitate federal structures. Then there are political structures at county and community levels. In some communities, for example, executive functions (which could be as seemingly trivial as dog catching) and judicial positions are filled by election and are thus political posts. The USA is a much more politicised country than the UK.

However, I do agree that the UK could do with fewer politicians. Perhaps, if Scotland eventually decides to pursue independence, Westminster will decide to reorganise itself for the 21st century.

 

EDIT

Tegwini - Council Taxes are levied and collected by local government. However, national government (for reasons that are largely political) caps local taxation.

National government supports local government by making earmarked block grants which amount to about three times the sums collected locally.

Business Rates, though collected locally are pooled nationally and redistributed.

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