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Collecting houses and jobs

April 27th, 2009 · Posted by Skuds in Politics · 1 Comment · Politics

The latest revelations about Francis Maude’s financial arrangements helped to remind me just why it is that I am standing against him – not so that I can pick up several directorships and some extra property instead, but because it is just plain wrong.

A couple of weeks ago I got a phone call from the local paper asking me what I thought about Maude claiming the full additional costs allowance to pay for a mortgage on a place in London.  I didn’t really give a quotable reply because I was literally almost speechless.  It is difficult to summonup a sound bite when you are in a state of shock.

The reason was that, having commuted from Sussex to London for many years I could not see why anybody would need a permanent place in town – and especially not for a part-time job.

All that was before I knew that it is actually even worse than that: he already owned a house in the same street, but rented that out and bought a flat to claim expenses on.

Looking into his expense claims I found that there were also claims for nearly £4000 for travel between home and Westminster, just adding to list of wrongness.

This is not just a case of having a go at your opponent because there is an opportunity to (and you really do have to make something of it when presented with an open goal like this) but I really do think this is taking advantage of the system, and having him say in the local paper that the taxpayer has got good value from him is just the height of arrogance.

There are so many things wrong about it all:

  • For a start there is the fact that Maude makes so much of the demands of being an MP meaning that he can’t commute like his constituents do.  That would be a lot more credible if he took part in even half the votes inthe commons.
  • Even if it is necessary to stay overnight sometimes, is it necessary to buy somewhere?  I know a few people who have really long journeys to work – much longer than Francis Maude’s – who decided to keep a place in London, but they rented somewhere cheap and cheerful as a place to crash.  Of course they had to pay for it themselves.  I can see how expenses incurred should be covered, but this is just inventing an expense so it can be claimed, and more than that it is using our money to pay for an investment on which I am sure he will keep any capital gains at the end.
    This is like travelling somewhere on business and not claiming mileage, but getting the company to buy you a car as well – which you can keep if you leave.
  • And what about those train fares?  Considering that Parliament only sits for part of the year, and then not every day of the week, and than Maude is absent for more than half of votes, those claims for train fares and mileage are more than enough to cover him travelling to London and back on every day that he had official business. Something is fishy there.
  • The only conclusion I can think of is that either the flat in London, or the travel expenses, or both are really to get him to board meetings or meetings of his job at Barclays.  it is not clear whether he also claims expenses from them too.   In my opinion either he is using official expenses to fraudulently enable him to get to his outside jobs, or he is financially incompetent enough to pay for both, or he just doesn’t care because it is not his money.
  • The whole attitude of knowing that he can do this because he assumes, possibly correctly, that he can do whatever he likes because Horsham will not vote any other way but Tory.
  • Having additional jobs at all has to be wrong.   When Parliament is on holiday and MPs are supposed to be in their constituency dealing with problems they should not be continuing to stay up in London on business.
  • Where were the front page headlines?   This is similar to the Jacquie Smith business, except that her constituency is much further from London making a second home much more necessary and yet her claim for a second home was being proclaimed as a national scandal.
  • The most personal objection I have to all this is that it just makes everybody think that I am standing because I want to jump on the same gravy train.   Nothing could be further from the truth because I really would not be able to live with my conscience if I was behaving like that.  I certainly would not have the bare-faced cheek to appear smirking in the local papers.

I can see no reason why a home counties MP needs more than one home, or why any MP needs more than one job.   In the unlikely event of me getting elected and finding out that Francis Maude is right I will apoligise – but I still wouldn’t expect the taxpaer to fund a place that will be unused for at least a third of the year.  I would stay in a hotel on the odd nights I had to and that would be that.

Gordon Brown is right to be pushing through changes to the system because it is rotten, although I am not sure about the idea of attendance allowances, not if it leads to the spectacle of the European Parliament where some MPs sign in and then disappear again.

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One Comment so far ↓

  • skud's sister

    And even if you could live with your conscience you have some family who would set you straight! And Rob has a really good disappointed face…