Wednesday, 17 November 2010

They Never Learn

The Telegraph has to be credited with exposing the MPs' expenses scandal in June last year and they continue to keep a close watch over MPs' behaviour with regard to their inappropriate use of taxpayers' money.

Labour and Tory MPs have moved into new properties after the Commons authorities announced that they would block future claims for mortgage costs and claw back a proportion of the profits made on subsidised properties. MPs can claim for rental costs on new London homes.

So what has Chris Bryant done? (pictured above).  The shadow justice minister has rented out his mansion flat in Bloomsbury (pictured above). There's nothing wrong with letting a home you own and have maintained.  But Chris Bryant hasn't maintained his Bloomsbury flat because the taxpayer paid £4,000 for stamp duty and £881 for legal costs when he bought it for £495,000 in 2005.  Since then he's claimed the mortgage costs plus the service charge of up to £1,400 every six months.  The mortgage payment isn't detailed but it will be considerable by anyone's standards.  To avoid Westminster getting their hands on a proportion of the sale of the property Mr Bryant has rented it and moved into a new property for which, of course, taxpayers will pay the rent and any service charges.

Other MPs are involved in this scam.  Peter Luff, junior defence minister, has also recently rented out a flat in London while Tory MP Philip Hollobone has rented out his house in Blackheath. Labour MPs Clive Betts and Andrew Love are at it as well renting out their Westminster flats along and not to be outdone David Crausby and Meg Munn have kept them company.

The SNP MP Angus Robertson has also rented his Westminster flat and said he was not making a profit from renting it out. "The rental income covers mortgage repayments and costs."

The other MPs declined to comment.

They just don't get it do they?  Mr Robertson's comment makes that very obvious.  What he doesn't seem to understand is that taxpayers' money has been spent subsidising these residences and, with the new rules, the honest action would be to sell their properties.  Letting them, in the full knowledge that they will increase in value and they can keep all profits, is teetering on the edge of dishonesty.

The rules state that MPs who continue claiming mortgage interest costs until 2012 will have to repay a portion of the increased value of their properties to the House of Commons authorities.  If an MP's flat was valued at £500,000 in May 2010 and the MP continued to claim 50% of the mortgage costs until 2012, the House of Commons would be entitled to half the increase in value of the flat over that period.

If MPs rent a new property the can claim £17,600 a year to cover the rental costs (£1,467 a month).


JuliaM said...

"They just don't get it do they?"

No, they do get it. They just know that there's no way of bringing them to heel!

JRB said...

Oh, Subrosa – I read your piece and followed the link to the Telegraph – and all that I thought was – they are politicians; what more do we expect of them?

It is a sad reflection that my regard and opinion of our politicians still languishes somewhere on a par with a 'hoodie' with an ASBO. Or am I being unkind to 'hoodies'?

subrosa said...

That's a better angle Julia. Indeed, they know the system and that there's nothing can be done.

I expect it's the only small print many of them have ever read - the rules on homes.

subrosa said...

Morning John. I think you're being unkind to hoodies.

Isn't it sad that we hold our political representatives so lowly? I would dearly like to write a good news story about them but, with the exception of certain individuals, there's nothing they do with the UK's wellbeing at the fore.

At least the Scottish government appears to have cut out corruption to a degree and I'm fortunate insofar as I firmly believe my own MSP and MP are responsible men.

It's sad Angus Robertson is involved in this scam. All for the sake of a few thousand pounds he has lost my respect.

Oldrightie said...

Of course they get it. In their fat bank accounts on a regular basis. Have you seen my own prize porker, today? Five years of hard work I did for this preening piggie. As Mrs OR pointed out, we put on events and raised thousands, exhausted we watched these Petrus drinking ghastly people laugh at our puny, useless efforts. Still, we live and learn. They don't.

Dramfineday said...

Aw come on for the love of (insert expletive of choice) you are public servants not gods to do as you please with our cash! As I've said before, the honorific should be "Trougher" as in, this the Trougher for (insert constituency.
Dear oh, Dear oh, Dear!

I feel sorry for you OR being involved in contituency life and working hard to get your MP in, then having that flung in your face.

Anonymous said...

Well done for highlighting this Subrosa.

It so easy to miss these stories in the current avalanche of news about HRH and Mrs HRH to be.

I said back at the time when the Telegraph did their daily exposé that I reckoned that they would never let go, and so it would seem.

Like you I'm disgusted with Angus Robertson. From the rest I would expect it, him I thought better of.

And so he has lost my respect too, and all for a few thousand pounds, which, if I’m not mistaken, he didn't need anyway.

Don't they see that these people who benefit so much from these scams make it so very very difficult for people like me to go knocking on doors on election day.

Why should we take the disgust of the voters when we took nothing?

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Well, I wonder if this particular gravy train is coming off the rails. Surely even these troughers do not have the bare faced cheek to carry on like this? Daily exposure of their misdemeanors must sooner or later come to the attentino of the dribbling classes.

There are MPs who don't play the game. As far as I know, Tom Harris (RIP) doesn't take the mickey out of us. Sadly, Tom was caught between a rock and a hard place on so many issues that he should have spoken out about, but chose to keep quiet about the expenses issue among others, mainly because his expenses were all above board, and to make mention of the fact would have made it a bit uncomforable for him.

So, even if the honest colleagues think it stinks, they are hardly likely to rat their mates out.

What will ultimately do for the troughers, is blogs like this.

Power to the bloggers!

subrosa said...

Afternoon OR. Yes I read yours and if you'd been quicker I'd have linked to it. :)

Sadly it would seem the most honourable activists are seldom appreciated OR. I learned too.

subrosa said...

Sorry Dram. Perhaps my post was a bit too kind to these troughers. I must learn to use stronger language.

subrosa said...

It is Tris. Wasn't until early this morning this one caught my eye. I certainly couldn't knock on any door for Angus Robertson now Tris but I'm fortunate with my own MP and MSP.

subrosa said...

The thought crossed my mind WW, will any of these individuals feel enough shame to sell their properties now they have been exposed?

I think not.

We've to keep highlighting these behaviours. The word spreads in the blogosphere.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

The only way these people would recognize or react to integrity would be if it was a listed item on an expenses claim form.

By their actions, or lack of them, they are beneath contempt and vacuous in their purpose.

It's time for Scotland to shed the corrupted shackles of Westminster.

Joe Public said...

And if their ‘tenant’ Sub-Lets it back to them, they make £17,600 vs £15,000.

An extra tax-free profit of £2,600 pa.

Apogee said...

If a system is enabled which allows the people 'controlled' by it to virtually do what they like, you can hardly complain when they do just that. They are ,unfortunately , only human.
If you want an honest system, get someone honest with clout to set it up. Best of luck in finding that person and getting them allowed to do the job.
Face the fact, these people set it up and they as an organisation are fireproof,you may get an odd individual, bur short of Armageddon you will never get them all.

subrosa said...

So sad an SNP MP is involved though RA. We've had the chance to shake off the shackles in the past year or two but the SNP decided to show how they can govern and could do the two things at once. Such a missed opportunity.

subrosa said...

Plus of course Joe in increase in the price of their property. It seems the Westminster area of London of the one in the south east which is increasing very steadily.

subrosa said...

You're right Apogee. There shouldn't have been rules which allowed this. MPs should have been given a reasonable timescale (6 months) to get rid of properties if they wished. If they decided to continue to own them then taxpayers shouldn't have to pay a thing towards any accommodation for them.

Dark Lochnagar said...

Mind you the housing prices could collapse. Are we then due a proportion of that?

subrosa said...

I think that's a bit of wishful thinking about property around Westminster DL, but yes, we'd have to accept a reduced amount.

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