David Cameron And Shadow Cabinet Referred To Sleaze Watchdog Over Expenses

(Telegraph) – DAVID CAMERON AND 10 OTHER MEMBERS OF THE SHADOW CABINET have been referred to the Westminster sleaze watchdog after using Parliamentary expenses to make payments to their constituency associations.

A Labour MP has written to John Lyon, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, asking him to investigate thousands of pounds in fees charged by local parties and claimed back on the MPs’ expenses.

Receipts filed with allowances claimed by a number of shadow cabinet ministers list the payments as having been made to ‘constituency worker,’ ‘constituency secretary,’ ‘secretarial and office services’ and ‘surgery.’

The receipts, usually for around £3,000 a year, appear in the MPs’ Incidental Expenses Provision allowances dating back over the last five years.

John Mann, the MP for Bassetlaw, has lodged a formal complaint with the Parliamentary watchdog saying that the payments raised concerns over whether national insurance was paid and the stated work actually carried out.

MPs are barred from using their expenses to fund their party political campaign work.

In total, 11 Tory front benchers, including George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary, Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, and Eric Pickles, the Conservative Party Chairman, have been reported to the commissioner.

The payments ranged from £9 to £32 an hour paid by Theresa May, the shadow work and pensions secretary, for a staff member to attend a surgery in her Maidenhead constituency, during which, she said, they worked: ‘arranging appointments, receiving and making calls.’

In his letter to Mr Lyons, Mr Mann said that he understood that a number of Conservative MPs had the permission of the now discredited Commons fees office to make the payments.

He added: ‘I believe there are a number of issues that need to be addressed in the light of this practice.

‘Paying staff out of the IEP means that no national insurance number is required and no national insurance is paid; and without formal staffing arrangements, such as a contract, there is no way of determining what work has been carried out.

‘Moreover, whilst the annual amount paid to local parties is around £3,000 for staffing, the hourly rate for staff varies from as little as £9 per hour to as much as £32.58 an hour, as does the number of hours worked.

‘Finally, there is no means of determining whether staff have indeed been paid, as payments from the IEP are made directly to local Conservative Associations.

‘I am, therefore, concerned that what appears to be the payment for reasonable expenses incurred in the cause of carrying out Parliamentary duties maybe seen as a way of directing public money to a local political party.’

A Conservative spokesman said that all of the payments were in order, adding that MPs of all parties, including many Labour MPs, used their Parliamentary expenses to pay for staff and other support in their constituencies.

He added: ‘These payments reflect genuine costs incurred by MPs in performing their parliamentary duties in their constituencies. The arrangements were, of course, fully disclosed to the fees office, and have been approved by them.’

Other members of the shadow cabinet reported to Mr Lyons include Dominic Grieve, the shadow justice secretary, Michael Gove, the shadow children’s secretary, Sir George Young, the shadow leader of the House, Andrew Mitchell, the shadow international development secretary, and Theresa Villiers, the shadow transport secretary.

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3 Responses

  1. And it would have been considerably cheaper to employ an agency temp……….

    At last an MP who is prepared to raise the matter of IEP expenses but who is forced to complain to the sleaze watchdog because the MEC is unwilling to progress any further complaints.

    The resolution of this expenses issue really does lie with the electorate in May next year.

  2. Slightly off topic but it has a relevance. In todays Telegraph is a list of those MPs who employ spouses, family etc to assist them in their office.

    I scanned the list to see if our incumbents ex wife was still employed, in Dorset”, as an “Appointments Secretary”. His, or rather her name was missing. What can it mean?

    • The Telegraph now has its online MPs’ Expenses database up-and-running, in which they quote directly from Spink.

      An awful lot of work has gone into this, and it deserves a place in everyone’s bookmarks as the first point-of-call when those parliamentary candidates are announced (or those political names seem familiar).

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