Thoughts from an active pensioner who is now somewhat past his Biblical "Use-by date"

"Why just be difficult, when with a little more effort you can be bloody impossible?"

Thursday, 22 November 2012

MP's Expenses

Another MP has become involved in questionable dealings over his second home. This time it is a senior Conservative MP, Stephen Dorrel, and it would seem that he sold his second home in London to friends, and the proceeded to rent it back at public expense. Whilst this might be in order under the rules developed by Ipsa (the expenses watchdog), it would seem to be rather dodgy to most reasonable people.
The situation is further complicated by the fact that he is the the chairman of the Health Select Committee which is currently looking into the issue of care homes, and the couple to whom he sold his home, and from whom he now rents it, run St Cloud Care, a string of care homes which has been criticised by the Care Quality Commission. Common sense suggests that this is a conflict of interest, and as a result he has been reported to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner by a Labour MP.

It is interesting to compare the lax standards on expenses claims from MPs with those applied to Civil Servants some 45 years ago, in the pre-EU days, when, as a Civil Servant I had to go to Paris for a couple of days on official duty.
When I got back, I had to fill in my expenses claim form and was asked whether I had brought back anything duty-free. Being relatively new in the job, I admitted to having bought a bottle of duty-free scotch whisky, and was then told that the notional duty would be deducted from my claim on the basis that "No public servant must make a pecuniary gain as a result of carrying out his official duties". On another foreign visit, I was scheduled to come home on a Friday evening and asked whether I could have an air ticket for the Saturday evening as I was happy to pay for another night in the hotel from my own pocket, Again the request was refused for the same reason, they considered a day sightseeing was "a pecuniary gain at the public expense"

The MPs are complaining that Ipsa is far to strict; I would love to know what they would say if Ipsa applied the rules that were applicable during my time in the Civil Service.

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