Tag Archives: Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority

New chair of parliamentary committee overseeing UK press in the pay of Rupert Murdoch? | Pride’s Purge

161107-media-commitee-membership
Clearly IPSA hasn’t noticed. Or maybe it has…

It must be great working in the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, making up excuses to allow MPs to do all the things they’re not supposed to.

All with absolutely no accountability at all.

The new chair of the parliamentary Culture, Media and Sport Committee is Conservative MP for Folkestone and Hythe Damian Collins.

Damian’s job will be to make sure the committee continues its crucial work of calling to account and overseeing the UK press and media in a rigorous and completely unbiased way.

I’m sure Damian will be completely unhindered in this task by the fact his publisher is Harper Collins – and this year he has received thousands of pounds in advance fees from the publisher for a mysterious new book he hasn’t yet written.

That would be the Harper Collins owned by Rupert Murdoch.

So no conflict of interest there then …

Source: New chair of parliamentary committee overseeing UK press in the pay of Rupert Murdoch? | Pride’s Purge

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Ofcom report on Rifkind and Straw is more proof Parliament’s standards commission must be scrapped


Tamasin Cave, campaigner for the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency, is right to state that the standards regime is “not fit for purpose and not doing what the public expect of it”.

Cave added that David Cameron had failed in his promise to clean up politics when it comes to MPs being lobbied by corporate interests, and this is also correct.

The current Ofcom report came after Standards Commissioner Kathryn Hudson’s decision on the Rifkind and Straw case was challenged by Labour MP Paul Flynn – and shows he was right to do so.

Furthermore, it has emerged that Rifkind was a member of the panel that helped appoint Hudson as Standards Commissioner, three years ago. Corruption?

The parliamentary standards commissioner Kathryn Hudson is facing questions for criticising the media sting on Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw, after regulator Ofcom found the reporting was of significant public interest and did not unfairly represent the MPs.

Ofcom opened an investigation into the programme in question, a joint operation between Channel 4 and the Daily Telegraph, after Rifkind and Straw were cleared of cash-for-access allegations by Hudson and the standards committee of MPs in September.

The programme used secret filming to allege that the MPs offered their political connections to earn money from commercial companies.

After exonerating the MPs of breaching parliamentary standards, Hudson said the damage done to the former MPs could have been avoided if Channel 4’s Dispatches and the Daily Telegraph had accurately reported the exchanges they had filmed.

The House of Commons standards committee was even more critical of the journalism, saying it was “very concerned that the matter should have been reported in this fashion”.

But Ofcom took a different view on Monday, saying there was a “significant public interest” in exploring the conduct of the MPs and that in the circumstances undercover filming was “proportionate and warranted”.

In its 38-page ruling, Ofcom also said that the filming was an “accurate representation” of the discussions the MPs held.

Source: Parliamentary commissioner faces questions over Rifkind and Straw sting | Media | The Guardian

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Miller resigns at last – now it is time to call in the police

Going (unpunished): Maria Miller has made a huge profit from her misuse of taxpayers' money while in public office. Now is the time for her to face a criminal investigation.

Going (unpunished): Maria Miller has made a huge profit from her misuse of taxpayers’ money while in public office. Now is the time for her to face a criminal investigation.

Maria Miller resigned as Culture Secretary today (Wednesday) – after nearly a week of hanging on by her fingernails in the hope that everyone would suddenly forget that she fraudulently claimed mortgage interest on a south London house that she wanted the authorities to believe was her second home (when in fact it was her parents’ first).

During that time she has managed to reignite public disgust at the many expenses scandals in which Parliamentarians have been revealed to have been involved since the Daily Telegraph first lifted the lid on them in 2009.

She has also managed to undermine public support for comedy Prime Minister David Cameron, whose continuing support for her has shown just how weak he must be. He needed Miller because she was a woman in a predominantly male Cabinet, state-educated in a mainly private-school Cabinet, and an avid supporter of Cameron himself in a government that is beginning to realise that he’s a dud. In supporting her, he showed just how precarious his hold on the leadership really is.

Of course, she also generated a huge amount of hatred towards herself. Remember, this is a person who used taxpayers’ money to pay for her parents’ house – a building which she subsequently sold for a profit of more than £1 million.

Miller is not the first Cabinet member to make a million with taxpayers’ cash either – stand up George Osborne, who formerly had us paying for a paddock, a house and other scraps of land in his Tatton constituency on which he falsely claimed expenses, saying they were vital for the performance of his duties as an MP. He later sold the lot for around £1 million, having spent not a single penny of his own on the property – it all came from the taxpayer.

Osborne was protected from prosecution by the Parliamentary Standards Authority – a body that appears not to be as independent as it claims.

Now is the time to report Miller to the police.

A Parliamentary inquiry is not the same as a criminal investigation and it is important for her case to be tested in a court of law. This woman was part of a government that has had no qualms about using the law to take taxpayers’ money away from people who needed state benefits in order to survive; now let us see how she fares when the law turns its attention to her.

Who’s up for it?

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Ministry’s mistiming will keep Miller in the spotlight

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“Oh, f…”: Now Maria Miller’s Cabinet colleagues are stabbing her in the back. By accident?

The Ministry of Justice has just announced that £14 million, taken from criminals’ ill-gotten gains, will be used to help their victims.

How much of this will come from the fraudster Maria Miller?

None.

What an awkward, mistimed moment – another in a series for which this Conservative-led administration should be justly famous.

Here we all are, stridently discussing the future of a Cabinet minister (Miller) who clearly defrauded the taxpayer out of tens of thousands of pounds to pay for mortgage interest on a house she then sold for more than £1 million profit – and her Cabinet colleague Chris Grayling decides now is the time to announce what the government is doing with other criminals’ ill-gotten gains.

This will merely intensify calls for Miller to face trial and conviction, and for her financial assets to be seized.

The MoJ press release states: “Under this government more money than ever before is being raised from offenders specifically to help victims of crime.” This is except for when the offender is a member of the government, apparently.

“An increase in the penalties judges can impose on criminals from 2012 is ensuring criminals are forced to pay the price for their wrongdoing.” Except when they are investigated by Parliament, rather than the police.

Miller remains a member of the Cabinet, her criminally-won gains sitting in her bank account. She is unrepentant, as her “obstructive” attitude to the Parliamentary investigation and her 30-second apology to Parliament – for that obstruction, and not for any criminality – clearly demonstrates.

David Cameron, the weakest Prime Minister in living memory – if not all time – does not have the backbone to sack her.

Maybe there is another reason for this.

We were all reminded by the Scriptonite blog yesterday that there is another crook in the Cabinet who likes doing dodgy property deals.

George Osborne “‘flipped’ his first and second homes to claim over £100k of taxpayer money for interest payments on a mortgage for his £455k Cheshire pad. He later sold the home for over £1m having made improvements partly funded by taxes. He also claimed taxpayer money to cover payments on a horse paddock for the property,” Scriptonite reminds us.

In fact, he claimed taxpayer money for several pieces of land in addition to the house, and sold the lot for a profit that was estimated to be £1 million, because he never paid a penny of his own towards the purchase – it all came from the taxpayer.

Vox Political called for Osborne to face criminal proceedings more than a year ago but the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) closed ranks around him and the Commissioner said that, as this had already been investigated under the lax pre-2009 rules, Osborne was going to get away with it.

So the message today is that you don’t have to be a master criminal to get away with illegal activities – you just have to be a member of the government.

Is that really what the Conservatives want to say – before an election?

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MPs Claim £70K a DAY in Expenses

The hypocrisy of the Westminster bubble was on full show today as IPSA, the body which oversees Parliamentary ethics at Westminster, released data showing that between October and November 2013, MPs made over 3,300 claims for expenses totalling £4.5 million.

This data covered 61 days and showed:
•On average, 541 claims made DAILY
•Each Claim was, on average, £135
•£73,300 claimed in expenses DAILY

Read more at The Political Ramblings of a Working Class Man.

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MPs’ pay demand signals end of ‘Austerity Britain’

flyingpigsHappy days are here again!

I don’t know how they did it, but the ConDem Coalition government I’ve been railing against for the last year or so must have worked an economic miracle, despite all the factors stacked against them – not the least of which was their own total ineptitude.

After all, that’s the only reason they could possibly justify asking for a whopping great 32 per cent pay rise, isn’t it?

Readers with long memories may remember that, when David Cameron came into office as the new Prime Minister in 2010, one of the first things he did was order a five per cent pay cut for every single member of his government, and a pay freeze until 2015 – in other words, for the length of the current Parliament.

MPs voted against a one per cent pay rise in 2011, and last year agreed to extend the self-imposed pay freeze until 2013.

Before anyone starts praising their virtue and magnanimity, it should be pointed out that our Parliamentarians are extremely well-paid – starting salary is £65,738, running up to around £150-160,000 for the Prime Minister himself. They do quite all right, thank you very much!

But today we discover they have been telling the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority it’s time for a raise – on average, to £86,250. That’s a 32 per cent hike.

Clearly, therefore, the economic situation has changed dramatically overnight. Remember, it was only on Tuesday that more than half of them voted to give those of us on benefits what amounts to a pay cut. Obviously they’ll be scrapping that plan.

Otherwise they’d be a bunch of low-down, fetid, excremental hypocrites, right?

Note that it was the Tories who wanted the highest pay rise – to a whalloping £96,740. The Chancellor is a Tory; he’d know when the economic tide turned and that is clearly what has informed their demand. It seems the only reason possible – otherwise such a suggestion would be utterly outrageous.

The Liberal Democrats came in with a more modest £78,361 suggestion, and Labour seem to have cottoned on that change was in the air as well, weighing in with £77,322.

I note that the Prime Minister’s spokesperson, according to the BBC, said Mr Cameron believed the issue was a matter for Ipsa. He was the one who ordered the pay freeze; he’s now very relaxed about what happens. This is another clear sign that there has been an economic miracle.

I look forward to future announcements that the link between benefits and inflation has been restored; that millions of new job vacancies are being filled in the revitalised economy; that the living wage is being brought in for everyone; and that the National Health Service is to return to its former glory after the last two years of sordid tinkering with its innards. And that’s just for starters!

I think I shall also be looking forward to getting my breakfast bacon from its still-breathing owner as it flies past my bedroom window tomorrow morning, on porcine wings that are only slightly less plausible than the situation I’ve suggested in this article.

Seriously, to all MPs responsible for this travesty: Shame on you.

And to Ipsa: Don’t you dare give them a single penny. They’re nothing but a crowd of immoral, opportunist scroungers.

And we’ve all been led to believe this government does not reward scroungers.

Or was that another lie?