4 Feb 2010

It’s not only MPs who are arguing over Commons expenses

There are two very different reports inside the volume published by Parliament today. Sir Thomas Legg, who led the audit, kicks off at the front of the document saying why he’s been right to tackle expenses the way he has.

At the back, the former Appeal Court Judge Sir Paul Kennedy says that one of Sir Thomas’ approaches was “damaging, unfair and wrong.” (p. 174). On retrospective limits on gardening and cleaning, Sir Paul says Sir Thomas was wrong to imply “impropriety” on the part of those who “overclaimed” when no claim limit existed.

Some of the appeal letters at the back of the Legg Report also reveal a serious clash of views between the former civil servant and the former judge. In a letter to Peter Lilley, who got his £41,057.36 knocked down to a big fat zero on appeal, Sir Paul Kennedy writes: “I am at a loss to understand why the Review (i.e. Sir Thomas Legg) should state that what you did was not permitted under the ACA, nor do I understand the reference…” to a relaxation in the rules that only came in later.

On similar but not identical grounds, Sir Paul knocks down the Legg demand for £17,894.24 from Liberal Democrat frontbencher Jeremy Browne as “not … fair or equitable” and based on “a narrow view.”

Elsewhere in the report you discover the ex-MPs who left Parliament in 2005 who have so far not paid back Legg’s demand. Former Defence Minister Ivor Caplin who stood down in 2005 is asked for nearly £18,000 and the report says Legg received “no reply” from Mr Caplin.

We just contacted him by mobile phone and he said he “hasn’t received any letters at all.” John Lyons who left Parliament in 2005 is also recorded as not having replied to Legg’s letters.Diana Organ – another departee from 2005 – is asked for nearly £16,000.

Even when Parliament votes in sanctions to sequester unpaid demands from salaries, at the end of February, it won’t be able to reach out and get back money from former MPs. It has no such power and can’t vote to grant itself that power.

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5 reader comments

  1. adrian clarke says:

    What was the point of commissioning a report by Legg.A report that was to be adopted in its entirety and then appoint an administer like Kelly who feels he has the right to change it.Sack Kelly ,put Legg in charge of administration.If MP’s don’t like it tell them to lump it .Pay up or face the consequences.Each one who has appealed should be exposed to the press and their constituents,giving their electors the chance to show their feelings.

  2. margaret BrandrethJones says:

    When the tories were in power I wonder what their expenses claims were like.

    Watching PMQ’s I watched David Cameron pull down Brown, I watched Brown pull down Cameron.I watched Clegg pull both down.

    Some say well thats politics.. but we all have an education and know all the tactics. We see some getting high on power, so I am not going along with them,I see those with an aren’t I clever grin, I am not going along with them.

    Who do we vote for . I certainly am not clever enough to see the truth through this veneer of play acting, but we can see Legg is having a good time.

    1. adrian clarke says:

      Margaret, Unfortunately 12 years is out of time

  3. Steve Willis says:

    I always thought there was an overriding duty upon Public Servants to protect the fiduciary interests of the Tax Payers. There is also a legal obligation upon all residents of the UK to keep their reciepts for taxation purposes.

    Members of Parliament and the House of Lords who have failed to do so should be barred from Public Office – as should all who’ve rushed to pay back expenses.

  4. James says:

    The recent pledge by Kennedy that MP’s must pay back profits from second homes only applies to gains since November 2009, [gains from massive Increases up to 2008 will be ignored.]
    Once again they fail to live up to expectations.

    Profits from second homes need to be backdated to 1997.
    There was never any political will to enable the average person earning average wage to be able to afford an average house in a rising unregulated market, under a secret expenses system, where MP’s were all flipping houses, making hundreds of thousands in personal profits.
    Not one MP represented the average wage earner.
    It is typical that the plan is NOT to reclaim the profits made before 2008 – as this is when 95% of the profit would have been made. Again it appears a symbolic gesture to appease angry voters. But we will NOT be so easily conned.
    It is not just that they used our money to profit, and paid no tax on the gains, it is also that it created a dangerous conflict of interest that meant that voting for policies which fed the house price bubble also generated personal profits for them.
    MP’s should not be able to make any kind of PERSONAL profit whatsoever, with Taxpayers money.

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