Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Swimming pools, moats and manure add to Tory woes.

The scandal regarding MP's expenses was bad enough when it was Labour MP's filing claims for sink plugs and changing the status of their first and second homes at will so that they could charge the taxpayer for their repair bills, but it actually becomes a lot more unsightly when we start to hear of the Tory's claims.

Some of these guys are multimillionaires, which only succeeds in making their claims seem even more obscene.

Three Tory MP's apparently made claims involving their swimming pools and Douglas Hogg is said to have claimed £2,000 for the cleaning of his moat and a further £14,500 to pay for his housekeeper.

Douglas Hurd has a moat in what I presume he is claiming as his second home, as you can't make claims regarding your primary residence.

But, any chance David Cameron had of convincing the public that the Tory party are not a party of grandees and actually are just regular blokes who might have made a bit of dosh, are surely scuppered when you read of what these "blokes" think of as a reasonable expense claim.

Deputy Speaker Alan Haslehurst is reported to have claimed £142,000 on his country house, and £12,000 for gardening bills over five years.

He has told the BBC that he did claim for £142,000 and said he moved his second home allowance from London to his constituency when he became deputy speaker and believes that the claim was within the rules.

Conservative MP Stewart Jackson has confirmed that he made a claim for the upkeep of a swimming pool, but only did so once to learn how to do it himself.

"After moving into the constituency home in November 2005, I claimed £304.10 on a one-off basis for work on the swimming pool the following summer [August 2006].

"The pool came with the house and I needed to know how to run it. Once I was shown that one time, there were no more claims. I take care of the pool myself. I believe this represents 'value for money' for the taxpayer".

Anyone who can say that is living in another quantum time space. Okay, his second home comes with a pool, but he thinks it's the burden of the taxpayer to finance him learning how to look after it? I mean, seriously, he couldn't just fork out the three hundred quid and tell himself that's the price of having a house with a pool?

Another Tory backbencher has claimed more than £7,000 for gardening including hedge cutting for a "helipad" - which he told the newspaper was a family joke. There's nothing the Great British public love more than shelling out for family jokes.

Cameron smells the danger:
David Cameron was last night ­considering removing the Conservative whip from some of the most senior party ­backbenchers in the wake of allegations that they have abused the MPs' expenses system to build swimming pools, improve their second homes, and even buy horse manure at the expense of the taxpayer. The Tory leader was informed yesterday afternoon about some of the allegations. His spokesman said last night he was appalled at what he had heard, and was considering his disciplinary options.

A spokesman for the party said: "David Cameron can, with the agreement of the chief whip, remove the party whip from these people; and there is no doubt he will do this if he thinks it is appropriate." Three Tory MPs have responded to the allegations by admitting culpability, saying they would repay the expenses they claimed.
The three Tory MP's who have offered to repay the expenses have, at least, the right idea. Every apology offered up until this point has been worthless as there has been no offer to undo the wrong. By offering to repay, these Tories seem to have caught on to the fact that there is no point apologising for ripping the taxpayer off unless you are going to offer to give him back what you should never have taken in the first place.

It's been a distasteful affair from start to finish and I am sure I am alone in not objecting to one Tory MP filing an expenses claim for manure. I actually think that's rather appropriate. After all, they're all up to their necks in it, so he might as well file his shoddy little claim.

Click title for full article.

No comments: