Monday, 23 March 2009

Banksters or Politician, pick your witch?

The political and corporate elite have carved out a nice niche for them selves in grabbing as much money as they can, before the whole pack of dominoes goes flat, the double six is getting closer.

What I wonder is, can a politician get elected on a moral values and openess and honesty ticket, and does one exist? Is Cameron the man? The SNP despite many failed efforts to the contrary have managed to keep a reasonably clean sheet.

The EU appears to be rotten to the core with corruption, is Obama going to bring in a new era of probity and high moral standards? r will he be swamped by the Banksters tsunami?


Minister: All 133 South East MPs should be banned from claiming £24,000-a-year second-home allowance

Under Mr McNulty's proposal, 133 MPs who live within 60 miles of Westminster would be banned from claiming the £24,000-a-year second-home allowance.

A further 25 Inner London MPs are already unable to claim ACA and receive the London allowance instead, which rises to £7,500 a year from April 1.) Of the 133 in the 60-mile zone who are currently eligible for ACA, 26 choose not to claim it.

That leaves 107, who have pocketed £8,725,000 in the past five years. Among the 26 who elect not to claim ACA are 23 Outer London MPs who take the London allowance.

A further three within 60 miles of the capital - Tories Adam Afriyie and Robert Wilson and Labour's Martin Salter - have never claimed ACA. The list below includes MPs who have claimed the ACA between 2002/03 and 2006/07, the last five years for which records are available.

Outer London constituencies:

1. Barking: Margaret Hodge (Labour), nil
2. Beckenham: Jacqui Lait (Tory), £93,469
3. Bexleyheath and Crayford: David Evennett (Tory), nil
4. Brent East: Sarah Teather (Lib Dem), nil
5. Brent North: Barry Gardiner (Labour), £86,687
6. Brent South: Dawn Butler (Labour), £37,245
7. Brentford and Isleworth: Ann Keen (Labour), £87,325
8. Bromley and Chislehurst: Bob Neill (Tory), £22,100
9. Carshalton and Wallington: Tom Brake (Lib Dem), nil
10. Chingford and Woodford Green: Iain Duncan Smith (Tory), £27,789
11. Chipping Barnet: Theresa Villiers (Tory), nil
12. Croydon Central: Andrew Pelling (Independent since 2007, previously Tory), nil
13. Croydon North: Malcolm Wicks (Labour), £9,138
14. Croydon South: Richard Ottaway (Tory), £101,808
15. Dagenham: Jon Cruddas (Labour), £103,117
16. Ealing North: Stephen Pound (Labour), £16,848
17. Ealing Southall: Virendra Sharma (Labour), entered Parliament
in 2007
18. Ealing, Acton and Shepherd’s Bush: Andrew Slaughter (Labour), nil
19. East Ham: Stephen Timms (Labour), nil
20. Edmonton: Andrew Love (Labour), £100,303
21. Enfield North: Joan Ryan (Labour), £95,932
22. Enfield, Southgate: David Burrowes (Tory), nil
23. Erith and Thamesmead: John Austin
(Labour), £87,328
24. Finchley and Golders Green: Rudi Vis
(Labour), £32,211
25. Feltham and Heston: Alan Keen (Labour), £87,803
26. Harrow East: Tony McNulty (Labour), £52,598
27. Harrow West: Gareth Thomas (Labour), £79,579
28. Hayes and Harlington: John McDonnell
(Labour), nil
29. Hendon: Andrew Dismore (Labour), £42,967
30. Hornchurch: James Brokenshire (Tory), nil
31. Hornsey and Wood Green: Lynne Featherstone (Lib Dem), nil
32. Ilford North: Lee Scott (Tory), nil
33. Ilford South: Mike Gapes (Labour), £104,650
34. Kingston and Surbiton: Ed Davey (Lib Dem), nil
35. Leyton and Wanstead: Harry Cohen
(Labour), £104,701
36. Mitcham and Morden: Siobhain McDonagh (Labour), £7,800 (now claims London supplement)
37. Old Bexley and Sidcup: Derek Conway (Independent since January 2008, previously Tory), £104,651
38. Orpington: John Horam (Tory), £34,583
39. Richmond Park: Susan Kramer (Lib Dem), nil
40. Romford: Andrew Rosindell (Tory), £104,699
41. Ruislip Northwood: Nick Hurd (Tory), nil
42. Sutton and Cheam: Paul Burstow (Lib Dem), nil
43. Tottenham: David Lammy (Labour), £25,263
(now claims London supplement)
44. Twickenham: Vince Cable (Lib Dem), nil
45. Upminster: Angela Watkinson (Tory), £82,886
46. Uxbridge: John Randall (Tory), nil
47. Walthamstow: Neil Gerrard (Labour), nil
48. West Ham: Lyn Brown (Labour), £7,370
49. Wimbledon: Stephen Hammond (Tory), nil

Within 60 miles of Westminster by road, according to RAC:

50. Aldershot: Gerald Howarth (Tory), £104,091
51. Arundel and South Downs: Nick Herbert
(Tory), £43,663
52. Ashford: Damian Green (Tory), £101,064
53. Aylesbury: David Lidington (Tory), £80,731
54. Basildon: Angela Smith (Labour), £86,754
55. Basingstoke: Maria Miller (Tory), £43,712
56. Beaconsfield: Dominic Grieve (Tory), £79,510
57. Bexhill and Battle: Gregory Barker (Tory), £99,460
58. Billericay: John Baron (Tory), £104,692
59. Bracknell: Andrew MacKay (Tory), £102,644
60. Braintree: Brooks Newmark (Tory), £42,110
61. Brentwood and Ongar: Eric Pickles (Tory), £73,492
62. Brighton Pavilion: David Lepper (Labour), £53,076
63. Brighton Kemptown: Des Turner (Labour), £67,324
64. Broxbourne: Charles Walker (Tory), £43,465
65. Buckingham: John Bercow (Tory), £104,701
66. Castle Point: Bob Spink (Independent since
April 2008, previously Tory), £104,094
67. Chatham and Aylesford: Jonathan Shaw
(Labour), £73,639
68. Chesham and Amersham: Cheryl Gillan
(Tory), £104,680
69. Chichester: Andrew Tyrie (Tory), £104,294
70. Crawley: Laura Moffatt (Labour), £61,457
71. Dartford: Howard Stoate (Labour), £68,446
72. East Worthing and Shoreham: Tim Loughton
(Tory), £104,628
73. Epping Forrest: Eleanor Laing (Tory), £101,411
74. Epsom and Ewell: Chris Grayling (Tory), £86,174
75. Esher and Walton: Ian Taylor (Tory), £104,581
76. Faversham and Mid Kent: Hugh Robertson
(Tory), £104,700
77. Gillingham: Paul Clark (Labour), £102,851
78. Gravesham: Adam Holloway (Tory), £43,091
79. Guildford: Anne Milton (Tory), £25,037
80. Harlow: Bill Rammell (Labour), £86,992
81. Hemel Hempstead: Michael Penning (Tory), nil
82. Henley: John Howell (Tory elected June 2008), nil
83. Hertford and Stortford: Mark Prisk (Tory), £94,848
84. Hertsmere: James Clappison (Tory), £79,963
85. Hitchin and Harpenden: Peter Lilley (Tory), £98,489
86. Horsham: Francis Maude (Tory), £70,499
87. Hove: Celia Barlow (Labour), £43,744
88. Lewes: Norman Baker (Lib Dem), £100,982
89. Luton North: Kelvin Hopkins (Labour), £8,894
90. Luton South: Margaret Moran (Labour), £87,206
91. Maidenhead: Theresa May (Tory), £19,030
92. Maidstone and the Weald: Ann Widdecombe
(Tory), £31,478
93. Maldon and East Chelmsford: John Whittingdale (Tory), £95,440
94. Medway: Robert Marshall Andrews
(Labour), £83,416
95. Mid Sussex: Nicholas Soames (Tory), £99,635
96. Mole Valley: Sir Paul Beresford (Tory), £55,941
97. Newbury: Richard Benyon (Tory), £6,874
98. North East Bedfordshire: Alistair Burt
(Tory), £86,356
99. North East Hampshire: James Arbuthnot
(Tory), £104,686
100. North East Hertfordshire: Oliver Heald
(Tory), £104,049
101. Rayleigh: Mark Francois (Tory), £98,373
102. Reading East: Robert Wilson (Tory), nil
103. Reading West: Martin Salter (Labour), nil
104. Reigate: Crispin Blunt (Tory), £101,859
105. Rochford and Southend East: James Duddridge (Tory), £43,656
106. Runnymead and Weybridge: Philip Hammond (Tory), £104,159
107. Saffron Waldon: Alan Haselhurst (Tory), £103,247
108. Sevenoaks: Michael Fallon (Tory), £93,596
109. Sittingbourne and Sheppey: Derek Wyatt
(Labour), £103,750
110. Slough: Fiona Mactaggart (Labour), £10,713
111. South Cambridgeshire: Andrew Lansley
(Tory), £96,320
112. South East Cambridgeshire: James Paice
(Tory), £92,634
113. Southend West: David Amess (Tory), £102,683
114. South West Bedfordshire: Andrew Selous
(Tory), £104,696
115. South West Hertfordshire: David Gauke
(Tory), £16,038
116. South West Surrey: Jeremy Hunt
(Tory), £26,089
117. Spelthorne: David Wilshire (Tory), £104,701
118. St Albans: Anne Main (Tory), £42,495
119. Stevenage: Barbara Follett (Labour), £104,698
120. Surrey East: Peter Ainsworth (Tory), £81,566
121. Surrey Heath: Michael Gove (Tory), £43,744
122. Thurrock: Andrew Mackinlay (Labour), £75,407
123. Tonbridge: John Stanley (Tory), £103,451
124. Tunbridge Wells: Greg Clark (Tory), £41,786
125. Watford: Claire Ward (Labour), £95,694
126. Wealden: Charles Hendry (Tory), £104,650
127. Welwyn Hatfield: Grant Shapps (Tory), £5,378
128. West Chelmsford: Simon Burns (Tory), £88,083
129. Windsor: Adam Afriyie (Tory), nil
130. Woking: Humfrey Malins (Tory), £83,141
131. Wokingham: John Redwood (Tory), £84,521
132. Wycombe: Paul Goodman (Tory), £73,970

Minister's £60,000 expenses for parents' home: 'Rumbled' Tony McNulty drops claim... then calls for it to be curtailed

Sudden U-turn: Tony McNulty has stopped claiming the second-home allowance

Another Labour Minister has been caught out in an expenses scandal after effectively admitting he had been wrong to claim £60,000 of taxpayers' money for a property which is his parents' main home - not his.

Employment Minister Tony McNulty performed a dramatic U-turn and announced he had stopped claiming the controversial MPs' second-home allowance after being challenged by The Mail on Sunday.

Even more astonishingly, he said that 133 MPs who, like him, live within 60 miles of Westminster should be banned from getting the £24,000-a-year handout.

Mr McNulty and his wife, chief schools inspector Christine Gilbert, have a combined annual income of a third of a million pounds and between them own two London homes worth £1.2million.

They live together in a house she owns just three miles from Westminster. Yet he has been claiming up to £14,000 a year in parliamentary expenses to help pay for the second house in Harrow where his parents live, 11 miles from the Commons.

The MP has been able to obtain the money because the house he owns is in his Harrow constituency and so qualifies him for the secondhome allowance. Initially, when Mr McNulty was approached by this newspaper on Friday he pointed out: 'It is all within the rules.'

But later, he changed his tune. When it was put to him, 'Do you accept it all looks very odd?', he replied: 'I do.'

He then compared his own unconvincing defence with that made by Nazi war criminals at the Nuremberg trials, who said they were 'only obeying orders'.

'It's not against the rules - though I suppose you might say that is the Nuremberg defence,' he observed.

He then suddenly announced that he had decided to stop claiming the allowance, which he has benefited from ever since becoming an MP in 1997. He said he had 'reflected' on the issue and stopped claiming the grant, officially called the Additional Costs Allowance (ACA), in January.

Asked if he had informed anyone in authority of his decision, either at the Commons or in the Labour Party, he replied: 'No, no one.'

The only person he had told was his wife, he said. He was adamant that it was not a spur-of-the-moment decision forced on him by this newspaper's investigation.

As if to emphasise how much he regretted his actions, Mr McNulty, who is also Minister for London and tipped to run against Boris Johnson for London Mayor in 2012, made an impromptu call for a major purge of MPs' expenses.

Mr McNulty has claimed at least £60,000 on this suburban home in which his parents James and Eileen live

Harrow: Mr McNulty has claimed at least £60,000 on this suburban home in which his parents James and Eileen live

Hammersmith: McNulty's wife Christine owns this home, where they both live

His plan received a mixed response from Labour MPs who would be affected. Crawley MP Laura Moffatt said: 'It doesn't affect me because I don't have a second home.' Asked how she squared that with her claim of £61,457 between 2002 / 03 and 2006/07, she hung up.

Dagenham Labour MP Jon Cruddas was more positive. 'This idea should be kicked around, it's a discussion which should be had.'

He said those who live within 60 miles of the capital should be forced to commute every day like any other worker, and lose their second-home allowance. Currently 159 MPs live within that radius. Twenty-six Inner London MPs already cannot claim the ACA - worth up to £24,000 a year - and of the remaining 133, 107 do claim. Mr McNulty's proposal could save taxpayers about £2million a year.

Mr McNulty said: 'There are senior Shadow frontbench figures who live five miles further away from Westminster than me who claim the lot...' before quickly adding: '... and that is entirely appropriate.'

Asked if he would be happy to sacrifice the £103,117 he claimed between 2002 and 2007, he said: 'If that is the agreed view of Parliament.'

But one MP who asked not to be named, said: 'Just because Tony McNulty has been rumbled does not give him the right to lecture those of us who need the money.'

Christine Gilbert

Combined wealth: Christine Gilbert owns two London homes worth £1.2m with husband McNulty

Asked on Sky News' Sunday Live why he was claiming expenses on a property where his parents live, Mr McNulty said: 'I use it considerably. I work there at weekends when I am in the constituency.

'I have said clearly that I was probably spending one or two nights a weekend there early on when I was an MP. It probably is less now.

'But I think I can do my job more effectively by having that base in the constituency. I think I can do my ministerial job more effectively by having a place in London.'

He explained why he stopped claiming the allowance in January: 'By Christmas, I decided - not least with the direction mortgage rates have gone in and a whole range of other factors - I reflected on it and thought I could probably do without claiming it.'

Mr McNulty said he believed there were 'anomalies' in the ACA system for MPs' second homes and thought it should be looked at.

But he insisted he was not casting aspersions on the second-home claims made by 130 other MPs whose constituencies are within 60 miles of London. The 'overwhelming' majority of claims were entirely legitimate, he said.

Any review of the system could look at the Scottish system, under which MSPs with constituencies within commuting distance of Holyrood cannot claim second home allowances, or a flat rate pay increase for all MPs in return for giving up ACA, he suggested.

It is the latest in a series of rows over MPs' expenses. Earlier this year, The Mail on Sunday revealed how Home Secretary Jacqui Smith claims £20,000-a-year expenses by arguing her London 'digs' at a house owned by her sister is her main home, not the substantial house in her Midlands constituency where she lives with her husband and young children.

Until October, Mr McNulty was Ms Smith's deputy at the Home Office. He denied his change of heart had anything to do with widespread condemnation of her conduct.

This is how Mr McNulty has cashed in on the ACA. Shortly after becoming Harrow East MP in 1997, he bought a house in Harrow, which is now worth an estimated £300,000.

He divorced his first wife, fellow Labour activist Gillian Travers and moved into the house with his parents, James and Eileen. By 2001, he had moved to Hammersmith to live with former headteacher Christine Gilbert. Ms Gilbert, also a divorcee, had bought thehouse - now worth about £900,000 --in 1994.

The couple married in September 2002. On their wedding certificate, both gave their address as the Hammersmith house, although in a Commons debate on data protection in 2005, Mr McNulty appeared to suggest his main home was in Harrow.

'I have no copyright on "Tony McNulty".' he said. 'I have no copyright on November 3, 1958 [his birthday]. I have no copyright on . . . [he then gave the Harrow address].'

In addition, he is on the electoral register in Harrow, not Hammersmith, where his wife is registered.

MPs can claim ACA on the mortgage interest payments on a second home - which means those members who have paid off their mortgage can receive nothing.

According to Land Registry documents, Ms Gilbert did not have a mortgage on the property when they moved in together, but Mr McNulty disputed this and insisted Ms Gilbert did have a mortgage at the time.

However, after they set up home together, both took out mortgages on their respective homes. Land Registry records show Ms Gilbert took out a loan on the Hammersmith property with the Bank of Scotland later in 2001, while Mr McNulty took out a fresh loan on his Harrow house with the same bank in 2003.

Enlarge Scandal after scandal

Scandal after scandal: How The Mail On Sunday has relentlessly exposed how MPs cash in on their expenses

Mr McNulty said he used the loan to 'pay off some debts'. His wife had used hers to buy a maisonette beneath the Hammersmith home to make it bigger. Around the same time, Mr McNulty's second-home expenses nearly doubled - from £7,400 in 2001 to £14,000 in 2002.

Mr McNulty confirmed his wife is still the sole owner of the home, but he pays half the cost of her mortgage.

The weakness of Mr McNulty's second-home allowance is laid bare by a 'golden triangle of expenses' map which shows how close they are to each other - nine miles - and to the Commons. The Hammersmith home is nine London Underground stops fromWestminster, the Harrow house just eight stops from the Commons.

Since 2001/02, the first year for which figures are available, Mr McNulty has claimed a total of £59,998 in second-home allowances. In the past five years he has claimed £52,598.

Assuming he claimed a similar amount from 1997 to 2001 and in the current financial year, he is likely to have claimed up to £100,000 in second-home allowances in total.

Asked if he had told the Commons Fees Office, which pays MPs' expenses, of his decision to stop claiming the ACA, Mr McNulty said: 'I haven't

. . . I have been too busy. I was planningto do so at the end of the financial-year.' Had he told Labour Whips or Party officials? 'I'm not sure it's a matter for party officials.'

Asked what had brought about his change of heart, he said: 'I have always felt some discomfort in claiming the money, to be frank. I decided that it's simply time that I stopped --partly because mortgage interest rates have gone down and partly because I can do without it.'

Asked if he planned to pay back the money, he indicated he would not. 'It's not that I shouldn't be claiming. I just feel a lot happier in myself in trying to make sure that I am as sensible as I can be with taxpayers' money, and that is what I have done.'

He pointed out he had never claimed the maximum £24,000 a year ACA. When he became a Minister and acquired the use of a chauffeur-driven limousine, he stopped claiming for travel to and from his constituency. Nor did he claim goods for his Harrow home using the notorious 'John Lewis list', nor for the council tax there.

Mr McNulty said the Commons should consider following the lead set by Members of the Scottish Parliament. Those who live within 90 minutes of the Edinburgh Parliament, roughly 60 miles, cannot claim for a second home. But MPs have been resistant to such reforms. Last July, they threw out an independent review body's proposal to cut £10,000 from the secondhome allowance for Outer London MPs such as Mr McNulty.

The Commons 'Green Book' which sets out the rules on expenses makes it clear that ACA claims must be 'above reproach' and that MPs 'must avoid any arrangement which may give rise to an accusation that you are, or someone close to you' is benefiting from public funds.

MPs are also 'strongly advised' to avoid subletting or renting out any property on which they claim ACA.

Mr McNulty and Ms Gilbert met when he was a college lecturer and Harrow councillor and she was the council's director of education.

She became chief executive of Tower Hamlets council and was Ofsted's chief inspector three years ago, for which she earns £225,000 a year. Mr McNulty earns £104,050, and both have gold-plated pensions.

Since being elected MP for Harrow East in 1997, Mr McNulty has earned a reputation as an outspoken and popular MP. His robust defence of Labour's record has led to him being used increasingly as a Government spokesman - and yesterday on BBC Radio 4, Jonathan Dimbleby dubbed him 'the Government's flak jacket'.

Last month he admitted he could not survive on the £60.50-a-week Jobseeker's Allowance. The McNulty-Gilberts earn that much in an hour and a half.

1 comment:

scunnert said...

Disgusting. I hope this creep ends up selling the Big Issue.

Scot Independent.

Stuff I did ;)


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