Lord Soley

As I feared and predicted in my last post (see below) David Laws MP has had to resign. I don’t want to add much more to what I have said below except that if we don’t get our expenses system onto a more logical and rational basis we will continue to have cases like this with all the damage they do to Parliament’s reputation.

We should also bear in mind that Gladstone, Lloyd George and Churchill to name but three would not have survived long as Prime Ministers if we had applied today’s standards and practices to the 19th and 20th centuries. Is that progress or not – what do you think?

7 comments for “Expenses

  1. Rich
    31/05/2010 at 12:16 am

    I’d have to say, whatever the undoubted benefits of bringing transparency to expenses claims, this is not a sign of progress. It is widely acknowledged that the expense totals were relatively low and that he would have been justified in claiming them if he and Lundie had structured the finances differently. It is hard to find progress in a political settlement that in the interests of punishing a sin of formality has resulted in the invasion of a very private man’s personal life and has, if not ruined, at least damaged a promising political career.

  2. 31/05/2010 at 12:46 am

    Did Gladstone and co hold the citizen to a different standard? Nope.

    It is the hypocrasy that makes it so bad.

    For example, appointing someone who uses their status as a MP to avoid CGT, to be in charge of CGT. Fox in charge of the chicken coop.

    That’s why when you have MPs making the laws, we expect them to uphold the laws.

    If the law is so complex that they can’t, then whose problem is it. They expect and enforce the laws on others, why not sack them when they break the law? After all, Parliament, Lords included don’t seem to be able to create rules.

    Lord Norton said over a year ago that the Lords needed to act quickly on the cash for law issues. So far, no new laws.

    If Lord Lester can introduce a law on libel, why hasn’t any of the other Lords done likewise to make it an offence to offer to sell a change in the law for cash?

    Lord Blagger

  3. 31/05/2010 at 2:36 am

    Over-drawing from the Common Purse, like Overkilling the Common Lifesupports Environment, extends much wider in every dimension than the one-by-one quasi-religious sacrificing of publicly-visible parliamentary politicians.

    Person A being able and willing to live healthily, happily, and citizenlike, upon £200 per week has to be practically 100% personally-efficient at making-ends-meet.
    Sub-conclusion#1: Person B ‘needing’ twice that amount is therefore only 50% personally efficient (i.e. at living, regardless of how workplace-efficient s/he may be).
    Sub-conclusion #2: Person B is further twice as destructive (consuming-of) common lifesupports than is Person A.
    Sub-conclusion #3: Person B is therefore at best only 50% as long-term sustain-worthy as Person A.

    One shudders at the contrastingly astronomical number of human-livings that are being given and drawn from the Common Purse, by thousands of Bankers and Speculators, tens of thousands of Company directors and CEOs, millions of high-up entrepreneurs and managers, and tens of millions of middle-class careerists and civil servants; all no doubt thanking their lucky stars for the continual smokscreens being put up by the Media and by the Establishment ‘watchdogs’ over a relatively few hundreds and thousands of pounds half-inched by one or two of the Quartermaster’s staff.

  4. Carl.H
    31/05/2010 at 8:21 am

    And Queen Victoria would have been hung for being a barborous dictator ala Saddam for various invasions and human rights issues…

    And if Jesus had been on the tv…..

    Oh please ! I do wonder sometimes if progress really has been made in the Lords. Still I suppose it helps the case for the appointments committee and anti-elected House campaign.

  5. Julian
    31/05/2010 at 8:29 am

    MPs seem to have been somewhat perplexed that they have been criticised for doing what seemed to them, very reasonable. They feel they work very hard in two separate locations and therefore feel entitled to a level of expenses to compensate them.

    Here’s a secret. Most non-MPs feel this entitlement too.

    However, because of the tax laws that have been created by MPs, they are not able to. Most commercial organisations know what they are allowed to pay their employees that will not be considered a taxable benefit, and that provides a boundary to the expenses that can be claimed.

    When I completed my tax return the other day, I saw again the familiar question “are you a Member of Parliament …”. In other words, “would you like a special lenient treatment of your expenses not available to most people?”.

    This is why the expense scandal had the effect it did. People know MPs feel they have entitled to their expenses. It’s that MPs have legislated over the years to stop any means by which ordinary people can profit from expenses, but have left themselves exempt.

    Presumably in the time of Churchill and Gladstone, the loopholes were available to everyone. It’s just that there weren’t so many opportunities – less travel, no computers to buy etc.

  6. 31/05/2010 at 4:24 pm

    Intollerant governments appear to beget an intollerant populace, Clive. Sir Winston’s expenses would never be questioned in today’s age as they’d never have arisen – he’d long have been banished from Westminster for smoking before he could incur any.

  7. Croft
    01/06/2010 at 12:51 pm

    “if we don’t get our expenses system onto a more logical and rational basis we will continue to have cases like this”

    I’m not so sure about that. It does seem a somewhat cynical fashion among politicians to blame the system for their own failings and since they are either incapable or unwilling to change themselves they substitute administrative change instead.

    As to past PMs; applying modern values to the past is always dubious. That said I suspect the country would have been better off if Churchill had been forced to retire when his health declined and Lloyd-George had been jailed – post ww1 – for selling honours. Gladstone’s strange interest in ‘saving’ prostitutes would certainly have lost him office and perhaps a leader with a less sanctimoniousness belief in his own divine mission might have succeeded where he failed. (Certain current political leaders might do well to learn that generally the public gets fed up with grandiose and pompous statements of goals or purpose.)

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