Throw The Book At Her – #Dorries #Ipsa

February 7, 2011 3 comments

The Green Book obviously..  judging by the latest figures released by Ipsa on their (have to say, bloody fantastic website),  Nadine Dorries still hasn’t worked out just what she can or rather SHOULD claim for.  As we now know, the “Honorable Member” for Mid Bedfordshire has clocked up an amazing £31,673.17 in expenses in the period May 2010 to October 2010. This makes her the THIRD MOST EXPENSIVE MP IN PARLIAMENT !

Simon Hart (Con.) – £35,256.26
Nadhim Zahawi (Con.) – £31,902
Nadine Dorries (Con.) – £31,673.17
Keith Simpson (Con.) – £29,916.44
Jane Ellison (Con.) – £28,752.82

Let’s try breaking it down a little, here are her “research and marketing” figure’s which take up a considerable portion of our cash, see how they compare to the other Tory MPs…  (her “PR” claims within this is £17,625 - “PR” being the description filed by Ipsa, the remaining  £2,408 IS for research, paid to HOC researchers see “pooling” below)

Nadine Dorries (Con.) £20,033.75
Nick de Bois (Con.) £9,332.98
Rory Stewart (Con.) £9,126.97
Keith Simpson (Con.) £8,488.10
Therese Coffey (Con.) £7,764.50

Having read the Green Book rules several times now, we are still at a loss to explain just why the artful Ms D thinks she is entitled to claim for PR at all!  Here are a few of the conditions which we think have been breached:

(Text taken from the Green Book – Applying the Principles)

The following questions are designed to assist Members in coming to a decision about whether or not costs incurred are appropriate to be met from the allowances:

  •  Is this expense genuinely incurred by me in my role as a Member of Parliament as opposed to my personal capacity?
  • Is this purchase supporting me in carrying out my parliamentary duties? Defining parliamentary duties is difficult but Members may wish to consider (i) the generally accepted parliamentary functions: the legislative role; the oversight and accountability role; and the representative role, including dealing with constituents’ problems and (ii) obligations they may have, for example as a small employer. Anything which is done for personal benefit or for electioneering or for the direct support of a political party will not be part of a Member’s parliamentary duties.
  • Does the claim match the purpose of the allowance in question as set out later in the Green Book?
  • Could the claim in any way damage the reputation of Parliament or its Members?
  • How comfortable do I feel with the knowledge that my claim will be available to the public under Freedom of Information?

Now, it might just be us but we don’t really see how “PR” can be seen in any other capacity for a BACK BENCH MP than personal glorification.  At £3525 per MONTH, Ms Dorries has spent more than double that of her nearest “competitor” Nick de Bois since the election and four times that of the next 18 MPs on our list.  Incidentally, we have been in touch with Ipsa about Rory Stewart’s claim as it looks as though they may have paid the same claim out twice accidently. (On the Ipsa website it currently shows that Nadhim Zahawi is at “number 2″, he has clarified via email that his claims have been placed in the wrong staffing category however, which he is going to have amended).

The other MPs we have compared above have claimed for “research and media” under the same category as Ms D, mostly they have used the HOC own researchers, which appear on the Ipsa website as PRU claims.  This is a way of “pooling” staffing, they pay a set fee for the year of  either £2408.75 0r £ 3877.50 which meets most of their basic research needs. Some MPs add to this on occasional months by using a senior researcher at an additional cost.  Ms Dorries herself has taken advantage of this scheme and claimed for an annual subscription.  So what on earth is the “PR” claim actually for and who is it paid to?  In previous years Ms Dorries’ PR claim’s were paid to a company called Marketing Management (Midlands) Ltd, who just happen to not have an online presence and is owned by a good friend of the MP. This Telegraph article contains details of £50,000 being paid to Marketing Management during the last parliamentary term. Thanks to an anonymous commenter on this comprehensive @bloggerhead’s post  (well worth a read ) who points out that Lyn Elson of Marketing Management appears on this current “researchers and secretaries” passholders list. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmsecret/101217/staff-02.htm 

So, with all that in mind, are we getting real value for money as per the Green Book principles or are we still being taken for a rather expensive ride?

Here are the fundamental principles which our elected representatives are requested to uphold:

1.3 Fundamental principles

In July 1995, the House agreed to adopt the Code of Conduct  for Members of Parliament – this can be found on the internet at:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmcode.htm

which includes a number of general principles of personal conduct. These are based on concepts of selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.

The principles are:

  • Claims should be above reproach and must reflect actual usage of the resources being claimed.
  • Claims must only be made for expenditure that it was necessary for a Member to incur to ensure that he or she could properly perform his or her parliamentary duties.
  • Allowances are reimbursed only for the purpose of a Member carrying out his or her parliamentary duties. Claims cannot relate to party political activity of any sort, nor must any claim provide a benefit to a party political organisation.
  • It is not permissible for a Member to claim under any parliamentary allowance for anything that the Member is claiming from any other source.
  • Members must ensure that claims do not give rise to, or give the appearance of giving rise to, an improper personal financial benefit to themselves or anyone else.
  • Members are committed to openness about what expenditure has been incurred and for what purposes.
  • Individual Members take personal responsibility for all expenses incurred, for making claims and for keeping records, even if the administration of claims is delegated by them to others.
  • The requirement of ensuring value for money is central in claiming for accommodation, goods or services – Members should avoid purchases which could be seen as extravagant or luxurious.
  • Claims must be supported by documentary evidence, except where the House has agreed that such evidence is not necessary.

Let us end by reminding you of this post via @quinsjim who endeavoured to assist Ms Dorries in acquiring a new Green Book after her original one mysteriously blew off her desk and out of the window… 

In her blog Ms Dorries posted the above photograph on this blog post:

So, there I was sat at my desk working when someone opened my office door. In walked a gust of wind. It lifted my idiots guide to IPSA right up from my desk and into the air. It took it all the way across the room up and out of the balcony doors straight onto the Atrium roof – where I can’t reach it.

And there I think it shall stay.

And WE think that The Conservative Party should throw the book at her !

Tune in next time for our next thrilling installment.. TRAVEL.

15 months, 15 hours, 15 questions..

October 24, 2010 1 comment

The content on this blog as at 21.11pm on Sunday 24th October 2010 has taken me approximately 15 hours to compile.  That is one hour for every month that John Lyon took to “investigate” the allegation that Nadine Dorries used her home in Woburn as her main one, claiming expenses for it as a second home.

Full Standards Committee report.

Having read the above report and the entries in Nadine Dorries’ blog, these are my 15 questions for John Lyon:

  1. Nadine Dorries claims her daughter Cassandra only attended school for up to 2 days per week. Did you see evidence backing this claim? A simple school report for the year would satisfy. Should the claim be correct, did you ask for or see a copy of their contract with the school to that effect? It is illegal to keep children from school without one.
  2. Nadine Dorries informed you that she wrote approximately 70% fiction in her blog to protect her constituents.  Did you check her blog to ensure this was the fact?  There are many photographs of Mid Beds constituents along with their names on the blog.
  3. Equally, Nadine Dorries claimed that she protected the privacy of her family on her blog, did you check this? There are photographs of her children on it.
  4. Did you check Nadine Dorries claim that she leaves her pets in Woburn under the care of a “house sitter” to avoid disturbing them? This would be a simple matter of asking the “sitter” for a formal statement including dates.
  5. Nadine Dorries claims to have paid the “house sitter” from her own purse, is there any evidence of this? Has this been declared for tax purposes by the alleged recipient?
  6. Did you view Nadine Dorries’ travel claims during your investigation? I believe a T2 form is filled in detailing travel expenses?
  7. Why are Nadine Dorries’ travel claims for 2009/2010 over SIX THOUSAND POUNDS less than for the preceding years?
  8. Why, if the house in Woburn was mostly unoccupied, did Nadine Dorries spend over £1000 of public money on gas for it during the period 19th March – 16th Jun 2009 ?  That is a huge bill in itself, let alone for a reasonably mild season.
  9. Did you speak to the Rev Stephen Nuth of St. Mary’s Church, Woburn as to Nadine Dorries attendance at church? A worthy witness?
  10. Again, owing to the fact Nadine Dorries stated to you that 70% of her blog is fictional, did you read her statement included in said blog to the Telegraph, regrding her second home arrangements?  It quite clearly gives the impression that Nadine Dorries and her children spend the vast proportion of their time in Woburn, not “somewhere else”.
  11. Did you ask Nadine Dorries to provide any utility bills for her “main home” to back her claim that the majority of her time is spent there?
  12. Was any evidence of “police reports” regarding safety and need for privacy offered or asked for?
  13. Being as she was listed as living in Mid Beds at the time of her nomination for the 2010 General Election, where was Nadine Dorries registered on the electoral roll?
  14. What is your response to Nadine Dorries statement of 23rd October 2010 ((following very negative publicity regarding her 70% fiction/ poetic license claim) that “every word written on my blog is absolutely true”
  15. Finally, given your role and the standards promised by your Parliament and expected by us, the voting public – did you actually investigate this complaint at all?

 

It seems the more I kept digging, the more evident it became that John Lyon did not.

***UPDATED 28TH OCT 2010..  This letter written by Nadine Dorries and published in the Beds on Sunday on the 6th June 2009 states categorically that she lives in the constituency with her daughter and goes to the Costswolds on occasional weekends.

Categories: Uncategorized
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.