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UK: Gov expenditure unbounded?
Professor | November 14, 2009 at 11:36 amby
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14 11 2009 Bercow spends £45,000 on flat refit.
In the August of 2009 the New Commons Speaker John Bercow announced a refurbishment at a cost of some £20,000 but according to the Daily Telegraph that was to include alterations, redecoration and new furnishings for his rent-free home yet this has now risen to some £45,000. It now transpires that the Speaker had no say in extra costs as required by the House authorities.
Opinion: Its all very well everyone now scrutinising Mr Bercow but what of former Speaker Michael Martin whom spent over £700,000 of Taxpayer Money at/on the same residence since 2001!. Did not the Daily Telegraph reveal that over £100,000 a year was spent on furniture, art and air-conditioning and that some £992,000 had also been spent on the Speaker's garden to improve security in the Palace of Westminster since the 11 September 2001 attacks.
Mr Martin's spokeswoman at the time said that the Speaker's House was part of a rolling programme of improvements since it is used for entertaining heads of state and needed to be maintained as part of Britain's heritage. "Speaker's House is the official residence of the Speaker," she said. "Entertainment of visiting heads of state, parliamentarians and others take place in the State Apartments and the costs listed reflect environmental and heritage requirements and health and safety legislation." Of Mr Martin former independent MP Martin Bell said he was "shocked" by the sums involved. "The Speaker should be setting a good example and he is not - MPs have got to get their palace in order," he said.
What is most interesting through the Freeedom of information Act is that we can ALL learn from both Mr Blair and successor Mr Brown as to spending – they spending some £15,000 of taxpayers' money between them on doing up their OWN kitchens while documents in 2008 also show that Mr Brown's claims included a Sky TV subscription, television licence, utility and council tax bills and charges for service, insurance and ground rent. Of some 450 documents released the EU President hopeful Mr Blair seemingly had great difficulty in paying water and gas bills to which threats of bailiff action be deemed necessary.
POLITICAL DISCONNECTION from reality as to ORDINARY PEOPLE is apparently about billing taxpayers while devising new schemes/means by which they must pay ever more while they get “less for more” as Politicians tout “more for less” as being “value for taxpayers money”. What was the biggest EVER POLITICAL DISGRACE was where Taxpayers faced huge legal BILLS on behalf of MP’s whom wished to DENY taxpayers of KNOWLEDGE as to what THEIR MONEY was being spent on. The word “DISGUSTING” came to mind at the time yet following the rush to repay claimed expenses to preserve “characters” the word “PARASITES” fronted the list of descriptions. It beggars belief how a “magic round-about” Government revolves every 4 years while taking over a years holiday during the period and while initiating intermediate Cabinet reshuffles to shift any blame on decisions/actions adopted by prior seat holders. Given such traits in a fantasy World it would be classed as an amusing Joke yet in reality it is the British Public whom must suffer by such irresponsible actions. Add too, that while unemployment rises as to ordinary people MP’s employ “their own” through expenses thus denying work to a domain whom fund their operations through taxes!. Finally - funding for employment seemingly pays the “cart” in how to write CV’s and for preparedness as to work while Job Centres nowadays have become merely “shops” awaiting a “horse” for MP’s to define in terms of actual work to generate earnings in feeding the loop as to financial support of itself. I could go on, and on and on however things don’t occur by accident –now do they?.
14 03 2008 MPs angry as spending list exposed. The disclosure of the "John Lewis list" re-ignited the row over their controversial allowances as it emerged they could claim up to £10,000 for a new kitchen and £750 for televisions and stereos. Senior Commons figures immediately acknowledged the public would be shocked by the sums, which had previously been kept under wraps even from MPs themselves. The "John Lewis list" - so-called because it is based on prices at the department store - was released after a Freedom of Information Act request. It led to renewed calls for a sweeping overhaul of MPs' expenses. Many MPs expressed surprise and astonishment at the list, others said they were angry that it appeared in the media before they were informed about it.
29 03 2008 Speaker's residence bill revealed. Over £700,000 of public money has been spent on the Commons Speaker's official residence since 2001, figures show. A Freedom of Information request by the Daily Telegraph revealed that over £100,000 a year was spent on furniture, art and air-conditioning. Speaker Michael Martin's spokeswoman said the improvements were necessary. The figures show that £148,900 has been spent on furniture, £13,000 on art, £191,000 on installing a new air-conditioning system, and £291,000 on "building restoration and refurbishment". A further £992,000 has been spent on the Speaker's garden - although most of those costs are part of the effort to improve security in the Palace of Westminster since the 11 September 2001 attacks. Former independent MP Martin Bell said he was "shocked" by the sums involved. "The Speaker should be setting a good example and he is not - MPs have got to get their palace in order," he said. The revelations come as Michael Martin carries out a review into MPs' expenses, due to report in the autumn. Mr Martin's spokeswoman said the spending on Speaker's House was part of a rolling programme of improvements. She added that the property was used for entertaining heads of state and needed to be maintained as part of Britain's heritage. "Speaker's House is the official residence of the Speaker," she said. "Entertainment of visiting heads of state, parliamentarians and others take place in the State Apartments and the costs listed reflect environmental and heritage requirements and health and safety legislation."
24 05 2008 Blair's bills woe revealed. Details of prominent MPs' expenses have been made public after a three-year legal battle - and they revealed Tony Blair failed to pay his household bills on time. Reminders for the former Prime Minister to pay water and gas bills and warning bailiffs could be sent in was among around 450 documents released under freedom of information laws. Mr Blair and his successor Gordon Brown were also revealed to have spent almost £15,000 of taxpayers' money between them on doing up their kitchens. Commons authorities gave up a £100,000 legal bid to keep them secret on Monday. The freedom of information campaigner who requested much of the information said the release showed the authorities had held back to "avoid embarrassment" not to protect their security. The documents showed Mr Brown's claims include a Sky TV subscription and television licence, utility and council tax bills and charges for service, insurance and ground rent. The then-Chancellor also submitted a bill for £4,471 for refurbishment work on his kitchen in 2005 and £1,396 for painting and decorating in 2006.
11 06 2009 Widdecombe in bid for Speaker's job. Tory Ann Widdecombe is the latest MP to announce a bid to become the new Commons Speaker. She said her aim was to "clean up the place" and connect with the public. She joins a lengthening list of candidates bidding to take over from Michael Martin, including fellow Tory John Bercow - currently favourite for the post - and former Cabinet minister Margaret Beckett.
21 06 2009 Speaker hopefuls' expenses revealed. The MPs vying to succeed Michael Martin as Speaker of the House of Commons are under scrutiny after fresh disclosures about their expenses claims. Among the latest allegations are that ex-minister Margaret Beckett claimed almost £11,000 in gardening expenses, and Tory Ann Widdecombe claimed more than £9,000 for a newspaper cuttings service. In addition: Tory MP John Bercow twice claimed for an accountant to complete his tax return, reportedly costing the public purse more than £480 each time.
22 06 2009 MPs elect Speaker amid expenses row. Ex-Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett is being tipped as the frontrunner after Conservative MP John Bercow, previously the hot favourite, appeared to lose ground. Labour whips have been accused of promoting Mrs Beckett while Tories are said to be manoeuvring behind Sir George Young, the Tory chairman of the Standards and Privileges Committee. Whoever wins will be charged with restoring trust and confidence in Parliament in the wake of the expenses scandal - a task that will be undertaken against the backdrop of criminal inquiries into a number of MPs' claims. Mr Bercow was previously expected to win support from Labour MPs who accept it is the turn of a Tory to be Speaker and see him as the least worst option, but Labour backbencher Stephen Pound said there has been a last-minute push by the whips in support of Mrs Beckett.
04 08 2009 Speaker orders £20,000 re-fit. New Commons Speaker John Bercow has ordered a £20,000 refurbishment of his grace-and-favour residence, reports have revealed. When he was appointed, Mr Bercow pledged to forgo the £24,000-a-year second home allowance as part of moves to restore trust in the wake of the expenses scandal. But, according to the Daily Telegraph, he has now ordered a series of alterations, redecoration and new furnishings for his rent-free home at the Palace of Westminster. The improvements at Speaker's House are set out in a confidential document seen by the newspaper. They include £7,524.30 on a new sofa and window seat cushions for the drawing room. One of the two studies is to become a playroom for Mr Bercow's three young children, with a £1,087 bill for redecorating it. Some £3,600 has been spent on fitting locks to the windows and having workmen check that access ducts in the wall panelling are lockable or childproof. A further £3,880 has been spent on planters to provide additional child safety on the terrace. In the kitchen, a new large clock is being provided at a cost of £80, together with a noticeboard and blackboard, costing £86.73, a hob guard at £47.88 and an additional high-level pulley clothes airer. Altogether, the work will cost £20,659.36, with another £20,000 reportedly earmarked to cover general maintenance. Mr Bercow's predecessor Michael Martin was criticised for spending more than £700,000 on refurbishing the residence between 2000 and early 2008, plus a further £992,000 on the garden and improved security. Buckingham MP Mr Bercow was elected Speaker in June after Mr Martin was forced from office over his poor handling of the expenses scandal.
18 09 2009 Speaker pledge on MPs home flipping. The public will be able to see if their MP has "flipped" their second home when the next set of parliamentary expenses are published, Commons Speaker John Bercow said. Mr Bercow said he was confident that new Commons rules would stamp out the problem of MPs switching the designation of the property on which they claim their second homes allowance - one of the most serious abuses identified in the MPs expenses scandal.
17 10 2009 Taxman probes MPs' expenses claims. The tax affairs of 27 MPs are being investigated following inspections of their taxpayer-funded expenses payouts, it has emerged. The Daily Telegraph said any found to have claimed for non-essential items could be billed for 40% of the value plus interest and potentially face fines. Commons Speaker John Bercow has urged MPs to pay back whatever sums are demanded from them by the audit of expenses being carried out by Sir Thomas Legg. He said that in order to show the public that they had "got the message" over expenses, MPs had to take the consequences of "demonstrably wrong or extravagant" claims they made in the past.
14 11 2009 Bercow spends £45,000 on flat refit. Speaker John Bercow: grace-and-favour apartment has been refurbished at a cost of more than £45,000 to the taxpayer since he took up the post in June. The cost is more than double the £20,000 which Mr Bercow initially said he was spending to make his official residence suitable for a family with three young children. Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act and obtained by the Daily Telegraph showed Mr Bercow's wife Sally gave detailed instructions on the revamp of the historic apartment beneath Big Ben in the Palace of Westminster. Mrs Bercow - who announced this week she is standing for Labour in next year's council elections - asked Commons officials for a larger TV, a DVD player and wallpaper which would make the residence feel less like an office. But email exchanges showed some concern among officials about the cost of the work, with one pointing out that Mr Bercow had said he only wanted to spend what were considered to be "reasonable" sums and noting that "the list is getting longer". The documents also show Mr Bercow has spent almost £13,000 over three months on entertaining and hospitality, including £3,599 on a three-night trip to Rome to attend a G8 Speakers' conference. In the election for Speaker after Michael Martin was forced out over his handling of the expenses crisis, Mr Bercow presented himself as the "clean break" candidate who would "move the debate on from sleaze and second homes". He announced on taking office that he would no longer claim the MPs' second home allowance. A source close to the Speaker said the £20,000 figure for renovations announced in August represented the additional cost to the taxpayer of the official residence being inhabited by a family with children - including window locks and other child-safety measures. Much of the remaining spending - classed as "routine maintenance" - was beyond Mr Bercow's control, he said.
14 11 2009 Bercow: 'I did not spend £45,000'. Commons Speaker John Bercow has denied allegations that he spent £45,000 re-decorating his grace-and-favour apartment in the Palace of Westminster. The Speaker said he had no say in much of the spending. In an email to Telegraph editor William Lewis, Mr Bercow said the difference between the two sums, £20,000 and £45,581, was accounted for by the cost of maintenance required by the House authorities,. He stressed he had not personally asked for the work to be done. He added: "It is a matter of regret that, because of its status as a grade one listed building and a world heritage site, almost anything to do with the repair or refurbishment of parliament is invariably expensive."