A short message to Members of Parliament

However MPs have complained that the new system is too bureaucratic as they object to having to account for every penny of taxpayer–funded expenditure.

Everybody else who gets cash off the taxpayers has to account for each and every penny.

Aged pensioners, those who battled the Nazis, strangled Japs in foetid jungles, have to wade through 40 page forms to get £20 a week top ups to their pensions.

Stop whining you ghastly, miserable, shits. Or you\’ll find out that those lamp posts on Westminster Bridge can be used for more than just illumination.

22 thoughts on “A short message to Members of Parliament”

  1. > Everybody else who gets cash off the taxpayers has to account for each and every penny

    No, not true. When I worked for (effectively) the scientific civil service, but actually NERC via BAS, the daily expenses allowance was a fixed rate of X. Because it was easier and cheaper all round for the staff not to have to fiddle around with receipts for every footling transaction, and easier and cheaper for the accounts section not to have to check.

    Sometimes you made a small loss, more often you made a small profit, but always it was cheaper than paying (a) the costs of some poor sod to pore over every little bit of paper and (b) the staff time to fill in the accounts.

    As a determined opponent of mindless bureaucracy, I’m astonished to see you pushing it.

  2. William, there’s only 600+ of them, and they’ve already proven to be untrustworthy, so I think – on a risk analysis basis – we can spare the manpower for this one…

  3. I have always had to provide receipts at every job I have had for every expense. It isn’t expensive. Every single receipt does not need to be “pored” over. It is sufficient to know that some will be looked at to ensure that people do not submit false claims.

  4. This matter is being dealt with far too flippantly with commenters here & in the post. This is a very serious matter & MP’s should withdraw their labour until it is settled.
    One can only hope that the Civil Service Unions will see the ample justification for the strike & be advising their members not to cross picket lines.
    Let’s see how the country gets on without it’s legislators & bureaucrats…….

  5. So Much For Subtlety

    I have just had a travel claim rejected because it was not the right sort of receipt.

    I was not overly sympathetic to start with.

  6. If the new system is so onerous then I for one would happily settle for a full annual report and audited accounts from every MP.

    Strangely enough, one of the first MPs that I ever met in the flesh, mor than 20 years ago, was dear old Dave Nellist, who turned up to speak at a public meeting I attended with a large bundle of papers which he proceeded to hand out to the audience before he spoke.

    What we all handed was an annual report of Dave’s parlimentary activities – attendance, key votes, number of questions, etc. – and the work undertaken by his constituency office, i.e. enquiries, amount of casework, etc., plus a set of audited accounts which showed exactly what he was claiming and how it was being spent.

    Whatever you think of Nellist’s politics – and I wasn’t a fan – at least he gave a shit about financial accountability. He used to give out those reports at every public meeting he spoke at, regardless of whether it was in his own constiuency or not.

  7. And woe to the small business man who can’t provide receipts when Hector comes a-calling…

    When I worked in IT, we installed a brand new bespoke accounting system for the company, which meant full system audits by both the inland Revenue and HM Customs & Excise before it could be used for live data – this was before the two departments were combined.

    As I recall, the IR audit took four full days, the C&E audit took ten days and redefined the meaning of the words ‘fine-toothed comb’.

  8. William,

    What everyone else said.
    I have always had to back up every single entry on every single expenses claim with receipts.

    You submit a claim form with the receipts stapled to the back and bingo, it takes moments for whoever authorises it to flip through it.

    The private sector does this without any question. The whining we here from MPs merely confirms to the rest of us that:
    – They can’t be trusted
    – They don’t have a flipping clue what the rest of us have to do.

    It’s time they got one. Good and hard.

    Commendable behaviour from Nellist.

    However, I don’t see it as “either/or”. If you can produce an annual report worth more than bog paper, you shouldn’t have any problem complying with the regime.

  9. “They don’t have a flipping clue what the rest of us have to do”

    I recall the famous Question Time discussion over MPs having a second home, with Eric Pickles trying to defend the position:

    Pickles: .. had to be there [the House of Commons] on time.
    Dimbleby: Like a job, in other words?

  10. However, I don’t see it as “either/or”.

    Nor do I really – MPs would still need to produce full receipts at the time of audit or risk having their accounts qualified by the auditor.

    The one observation I have made on this, some time back, was that MPs seem to have no problem clubbing together and stumping up large sums of cash to pay for collective research services – although Labour MP pay for theirs from their salary and not from expenses, like the Tories and LibDems.

    And yet, its beyond the wit of MP’s to club together in the same way in order to hire a halfway decent accounts clerk to keep their expenses claims in order.

    If you think about, there’s a bit of a business opportunity there, one that might well suit a part-qualified accountant looking to finance the rest of his/her studies.

  11. Would you rather your MP produced a receipt for a taxi ride, or used an Oyster card to travel by underground and claimed an approximate allowance?

  12. PaulB

    Unless HMRC have agreed a dispensation for round sum travel expenses, employers are obliged to ensure that “higher-paid” employees deduct private travel from their expense claims. This works for mobile phone calls, where the emplyer can only reclaim input VAT on business-calls, which means that an auditable split has to be maintained. This apportionment is then used to calculate input VAT on rentals and other standing charges.

    These pettifogging rules were mandated by our elected representatives. They should live by the standards they expect from us.

  13. I’d rather the MP got paid a straight amount (say £150k pa) and had no expenses budget.

    Like, as they say, the rest of us.

  14. My employer used to demand receipts for travel expenses, hence my remark about underground and taxis, but picked up my mobile phone bill without cavil.

    Now that they’ve been giving a kicking, why not let MPs claim this stuff with rational levels of documentation, and encourage them to extend the same privilege to the rest of us? I’d really rather they spent their time trying to understand the legislation they vote on.

  15. “I’d really rather they spent their time trying to understand the legislation they vote on.”

    Or they could even account for every last taxpayer penny, and vote on less legislation. A win-win situation.

  16. PaulB,

    The cost of Oyster cards is not a mystery. They’re exactly the same price every week. Which is why my own employer and presumably many others have no problem at all insisting on receipts for every other expense claim but taking it on trust that we have spent what we claim to have spent on Oyster cards. There is no conflict there.

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