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Expenses Mashup
April 3, 2009 6:20 AM   Subscribe

Following Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's expenses claim for pornographic films watched by her husband, which came hot on the heels of an investigation into expenses claims for MPs' second homes, the Guardian has published data on each MPs' claims. Now, it's been combined with data from They Work For You to create a map showing MPs' expenses claims, revealing interesting anomalies.
An investigation into MPs' expenses is forthcoming. [Previously]
posted by djgh (25 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
When are they going to have 24-hour CCTV surveillance of MPs?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:34 AM on April 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's awesome how much time of public employees was spent dealing with this £10 in pornographic films that the media loves so much. Total cost: way more than £10.
posted by grouse at 6:40 AM on April 3, 2009


Thank heavens. A corruption scandal that doesn't involve anyone from Illinois.
posted by nax at 6:42 AM on April 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hot On The Heels is a good name for a porn movie. Interesting Anomalies, I'm not sure about. Not my cuppa, anyway.
posted by pracowity at 6:44 AM on April 3, 2009


I find the whole thing around expenses - or entitlements as MPs would think of them - absurd.

At base I don't mind the money being spent per se - be it as a salary, entitlement or expenses - as long as we know where we stand and ground rules for how MPs take taxpayer cash are ethically and legally clear.

But the underlying issue isn't the money: it is a general disgust firstly with MPs treatment of the public purse and secondly and job performance.

Habitual comments that MPs turn down pots of money in the private sector when the enter parliament don't hold true for many of them, especially the [relatively] new breed of uber ambitious career politicians who spend their entire pre-parliament careers in think tanks and as government aides.

The solution to me is clear: take an average of MPs' final salaries when they get elected, adjusted for inflation and so forth; compare with an MP's salary, entitlements and pension; make a new baseline salary that reflects a compromiose between those two numbers, with the view that it should be a privilege to serve parliament, and that anyone who is seeking financial parity as an MP is probably unfit to serve their constituents.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:48 AM on April 3, 2009


with the view that it should be a privilege to serve parliament

That sounds a lot like a step back towards the days when only people of significant independant wealth could afford to engage in politics.

In a way, paying MPs reasonably well and covering their expenses improves parity, because it makes it possible for people from any background to have a political career. And if we want to attract some of our best, most insightful minds into politics, we have to pay the going rate for those minds; even the best of us can have a hard time balancing what we feel we should do with what gives our families the best quality of life. Of course it would be nice if altruism were motive enough - there are certainly too many careerists in politics. But is that just about remuneration or is it also about fame and influence?
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 7:07 AM on April 3, 2009


By and large, if we had to choose, I'd much rather have MPs fiddling expenses from the taxpayers than taking money from contractors, lobbyists and foreign powers.
posted by WPW at 7:29 AM on April 3, 2009


That sounds a lot like a step back towards the days when only people of significant independant wealth could afford to engage in politics

Not at all. I think they should be paid a living wage, and as I tried to elaborate above, one means of doing that would be to gauge the relationship between their salaries before and after entering parliament.

That said, I firmly believe that being an MP should be driven, to some degree, by civic duty and not as a career in itself. And therefore arguments that x would get paid y in the private sector are nonsensical as direct means of saying what MP salary packages should be.

As it happens, MP salaries are not ungenerous, once you factor in a) the base salary b) the pension c) the allowances and d) the fact that MPs can still continue to earn money elsewhere while they serve.

The base salary is £63,291. The non-contributory pension is several times above private sector levels. Commuting is expensable, as are a whole range of other tangential costs that you or I would pay. Upon losing their seat, the MP is paid between 50% and 100% of their annual salary.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:36 AM on April 3, 2009


That sounds a lot like a step back towards the days when only people of significant independant wealth could afford to engage in politics.

As MuffinMan says, only if you can't scrap by on the pittance of £60k a year. However, I think it is also worth pointing out that there is no going rate for "insightful minds" and there is often very little relationship between what people are paid and what their abilities are.
posted by ninebelow at 7:53 AM on April 3, 2009


As MuffinMan says, only if you can't scrap by on the pittance of £60k a year.

Well, ok, but I don't see how reducing the average pay of an MP will solve any of the issues stemming from the type of the people who get into power. It's mostly to do with public relations, charisma, and the fact that we're duped into electing the buggers into office.

Arguably an effective MP, who works hard to improve the lot of his or her constituents, is well worth £60K plus perks, and whether or not he or she is partly motivated by the salary is incidental.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 8:17 AM on April 3, 2009


Come back, Dave Nellist.
posted by Abiezer at 8:27 AM on April 3, 2009


I am fascinated by the possibilities inherent in the title former shadow home secretary .

Please don't ruin it for me by explaining what it really means.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:32 AM on April 3, 2009


le morte de bea arthur: for the record, I'm not saying MPs' salaries should be reduced. I'm saying that they're not bad currently, and before we subscribe to the idea that allowances should be rolled into salaries so MPs can get their just desserts, let's actually examine the merit of what they have to give up, financially, to become MPs and what we, as taxpayers should pay to get the calibre of MP we want.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:42 AM on April 3, 2009


OK, while a just dessert sounds tasty, I mean a just desert.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:52 AM on April 3, 2009


Please don't ruin it for me by explaining what it really means.

Better never visit wikipedia then.
posted by DreamerFi at 8:53 AM on April 3, 2009


Come back, Dave Nellist.

Which would make an MP's salary £24,900.

Well, ok, but I don't see how reducing the average pay of an MP will solve any of the issues stemming from the type of the people who get into power.

It won't. I was only responding to the idea that MuffinMan's proposal would mean only the independantly wealthy could afford to become MPs which, as you now appear to have conceded, is ridiculous.
posted by ninebelow at 9:04 AM on April 3, 2009


Come back, Dave Nellist.

Talk about great names for a porn film!
posted by Pollomacho at 10:03 AM on April 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


At least he hasn't phoned us up trying to tell us that he never meant to order the event by going to the specific section where they are listed, entering the PIN to view the listings, picking the film, inputting the PIN again and then confirming by pressing the "OK" button.

Amazing how many chaps do that, one hand firmly gripping their porridge gun when the missus is out and then call us up saying how "it must have done it on it's own" when the bill drops on the mat.

£5 won't even buy you a pop shot on UK pr0n channels. Use the internet you get for free you fucking idiot.
posted by longbaugh at 11:39 AM on April 3, 2009


I note that both this and the 'previously' link have an entirely unfunny, smug-as-fuck CCTV "joke" as the first comment.

Stay classy, SlashdottersMefites.
posted by genghis at 4:35 PM on April 3, 2009


£5 won't even buy you a pop shot on UK pr0n channels. Use the internet you get for free you fucking idiot.

Forget MP. You should be made Prime Minister, or at least Chancellor.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:42 PM on April 3, 2009


Somebody doesn't like traditions. And just how do you get 'smug' out of that?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:43 PM on April 3, 2009


It's awesome how much time of public employees was spent dealing with this £10 in pornographic films that the media loves so much.

I can only assume, grouse, that you are unfamiliar with UK politics. The reason there's such a stink about Smith is because she's positioned herself as a Big Sister morals campaigner in a government that's trying for mass stealth censorship of Internet activity. She's been a major proponent of detention without trial, mandatory ID cards, logging of phone and internet activity of all citizens, DNA databanks of citizens who have not been charged or convicted of a crime,.

but probably the most telling reason this is a story is that Smith proposes criminalising visiting prostitutes, with remarkably draconian framing, on the grounds it contributes to sexual slavery. But apparently there's no problem with Jacqui's porn habit.
posted by rodgerd at 6:23 PM on April 3, 2009


Re. the map showing MPs' expenses claims: the stereotype of the thrifty Scotsman is justified!
posted by alexei at 10:25 PM on April 3, 2009


She says she wasn't there when the porn pay-per-views were watched. Presumably she was off attending to the people's business. How is affording her husband the material for a good, leisurely spank in the evening not expensable, when she is unavailable due to public duties?
posted by jayder at 11:32 PM on April 3, 2009


From The Guardian ...here's a prediction from a senior cabinet minister: by July we could see a stream of byelections, as MPs who have been humiliated by details of their expense claims are forced to quit.

You might think that after the Jacqui Smith pay-movie story and multi-homed minister Geoff Hoon we must have plumbed the depths of "politicians on the take" stories. You'd be wrong. Tens or hundreds of thousands of claims by MPs are shortly to be released publicly. Most are unexceptional and within the rules. But according to plugged-in government sources, some are "awful, just worse than you can imagine" and likely to destroy careers.


From Guido Fawkes MPs are renting out buy-to-let properties that they own, to members of their own staff, to whom they authorise payments out of parliamentary expenses.

The rabble-rousing has started, the pitch-forks and flaming brands are being fetched, and the recession is in the process of delivering a slavering mob of disgruntled peasants to the market square. There's going to be blood on the carpet before the summer's out.
posted by Jakey at 3:01 AM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


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