Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Unintended but foreseeable consequences

The wife has just kindly pointed out that whilst Jackart's position may be technically correct, there is another aspect to all of this. Or, rather, a couple.

The first is that—no matter what the rules say—MPs should have known when it was morally wrong to claim expenses, they should have known that it was morally wrong to flip their designated homes.

"Ah," I hear you cry. "You might have made that moral judgement, but those are your morals, o Devil, and not theirs. And we thought that you disagreed with forcing your personal morals onto others."

And you would be completely right: I do disagree with forcing my morals onto others. But these cunts don't; their entire political lives are spent forcing us to live by their personal mores—one could argue that this is a bit of tit for tat.

I would also argue that someone who breaks the most fundamental of the rules that I believe in—that you shall not steal*—should have no moral authority over me.

The second point is somewhat less abstract and it is quite simply this: that much of the money that was spent—even when it was within the rules—would not have been spent were it not claimed on expenses.

Would Gordon Brown really have spent £10,716.60 of his own money on cleaning? Would Nick Clegg really have spent £910 on roses if he were not claiming the money on expenses?

I seriously doubt it.

And this is the reason, claims Sir Thomas Legg, that he is imposing these "retrospective rules".
Sir Thomas's letters have been accompanied by a note in which he explained his decision.

He told MPs that there had effectively already been a limit on the amount that could be claimed for mortgage interest, because the total additional cost allowance budget prevented an annual claim of more than about £24,000 last year.

Household goods, he said, were also subject to limits. The so-called "John Lewis list", which was kept secret from MPs, told Commons officials that they could allow, for example, up to £750 for a television and £10,000 for a new kitchen.

However, Sir Thomas said that he could find nothing in the existing rules setting out the maximum allowable for other large expenses, including cleaning and gardening. Therefore, he believed that limits must be imposed retrospectively.

"Some limits must be regarded as having been in place to prevent disproportionate and unnecessary expenditure from the public purse," he said.

In other words, where no limits were set, MPs have basically bought goods and services, the prices of which were far in excess of what they would have paid out of their own pockets—simply because they were able to get the poor bloody taxpayer to stump up the cash.

Sir Thomas Legg has determined that this is absolutely wrong, and has penalised the thieving fuckers accordingly. Good.

I seriously hope that these bastards are made to pay back every penny. And I hope that many of them leave office with their spirits broken, their reputations in tatters and their bank accounts empty.

Because, frankly, I was promised suicides and, disappointingly, there hasn't been a single one yet...

* To steal life is murder; to steal freedom is to enslave; and to steal property is theft.


Unity said...

So far as Legg's stance on cleaning and gardening are concerned, I think the only thing he need do to vindicate his position is show his working out.

If what he allowed for, say cleaning, works out to a reasonable number of hours a week at whatever the going rate is in the market then his actions are readily justifiable - all he need do is explain his calculations.

Gareth said...

Jackart's position is moot. The rules at the time were (and continue to be) that expenses are for things wholly and neccessary for an MP to go about their Parliamentary duties. Meals yes. Travel yes. Rent and mortgage interest etc yes. With receipts to boot. Cleaning? Duck houses? £8k tellys Gerald Kaufman or £19k shelves Tam Dayell? Sod off. The Inland Revenue would not look lightly on such things in the real world.

It had become so perverted that the MPs were running prospective purchase past the Fees Office to see what they could get away with. The rules as they were at the time were not being applied correctly and the MPs were knowingly taking advantage of it.(Hence the secrecy over the John Lewis list to try and prevent MPs from simply maxing out their claims as a matter of course.)

MPs are trying to make out that just because the Fees Office paid out their claims were legitimate. They weren't. If the Fees Office were in error that still needs rectifying and MPs have had money they were not entitled to.

If the DWP overpay benefits through their mistake they would (and do) get it back.

Blanket Of Ash said...

I'm the last person to defend politicians, but their protests can be understood in the context of them just doing a job, and doing what they are told by their superiors. They feel as aggrieved as the next person that this has now led to the type of righteous indignation you express.

The issue of whether this is an acceptable stance for a politician is all well and good, but MPs expenses? Meh.

Unity said...

their protests can be understood in the context of them just doing a job, and doing what they are told by their superiors

Sorry but no matter how you put it the Nuremburg defence still doesn't fly.

The Filthy Smoker said...

I don't agree with Jackart at all. There were rules and those rules clearly stated that MPs could only take money for reasonable and necessary expenses. The fact that these grasping cunts had a different opinion to what was reasonable and necessary than the rest of the country is their problem, not ours. It only meant that someone (Legg) had to come in and adjudicate.

You could say that the rules were vague but so is the law about what constitutes reasonable force in stopping a burglar. Ultimately, someone must decide what constitutes reasonable force after the event. Legg has done that in a fair way. Fuck them in their stupid arses.

Roue le Jour said...

Never mind paying the money back. The really key point that no one is talking about is repealing the legislation that exempts MPs expenses from normal Revenue rules.

Blanket Of Ash said...

>>Sorry but no matter how you put it the Nuremburg defence still doesn't fly.

You do know that whenever you bring that Nazis into an unrelated argument that you automatically forfeit? ;)

Nonetheless, we don't disagree. I think my point was misunderstood. MPs long ago justified this and other behaviour that it totally unacceptable to anyone that is not an MP. They are going to repent or modify this behaviour at all, and if we expect them to we're going to be disappointed.

Expenses is great tabloid-fodder, since we can whip the masses up into a bigoted frenzy of tax-paying hatred, but it fails to strike at the core of the issue. MPs are not going to change their self-perception or the perception of their role and status.

Tomrat said...

Actually there is a simpler arguement to DK's here as to why they should pay these monies back; the wolves omitted to give the sheep a vote as to who was for dinner long ago; these expense claims and what his admissable has long been removed from publics view.

Unity said...

You do know that whenever you bring that Nazis into an unrelated argument that you automatically forfeit? ;)

Yes, but I'm very firmly of the opinion that Godwin's Law does not apply to instances in which an attempt to deploy the Nuremburg defence has arisen, which seems to be precisely what some MP's are trying to pull.

We're long past the point of arguing over the rules here to the extent that the central issue is one of morality.

Just because the system was open to abuse its does follow that any MP was justfied in abusing it, and its that aspect that some MPs seem not to have cottoned on to.

Anonymous said...

But they are "Honourable men", I bloody well wish. Anyone with any concept of the word would not have taken what is not theirs. It was not government money, they have none, it is/was taxpayers money. Those like the Smith woman who took are thieves, simple. Mind you the idiot who let her off with a so called apology should also be in a cell, for a long time.


marksany said...

Fuck the cleaning and gardening bills, when are we going to see them pay back the capital gains on thier property portfolios stolen from the taxpayer?

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