Thursday, 21 May 2009

Dedicated Followers Of Mammon


Two Conservative MPs – Sir Peter Viggers and Anthony Steen – will resign their seats at the next election. Sir Peter will step down as MP for Gosport in Hampshire "at the direct request" of David Cameron after spending tens of thousands of pounds on gardening, including a £1,645 bill for a floating "duck island", while Mr Steen, the MP for Totnes in Devon who claimed £87,729 on his luxurious country house, will also leave the Commons.



Steen has now "unreservedly apologised" for saying the public should not have been allowed to see what he claimed.


Three Labour MPs – Elliot Morley, David Chaytor and Margaret Moran, who claimed £22,500 on expenses to treat dry rot at her "second home" over 100 miles from her Luton constituency, will be summoned next week to a disciplinary panel to defend their claims. Gordon Brown has warned that no MP who has "defied the rules" on expenses will be allowed to stand at the next election. 

Ex-minister Elliot Morley, suspended by Labour following reports about his expenses, has told the BBC that he can prove he did not over-claim on purpose.

The Parliamentary Labour Party took action against Mr Morley after he claimed £16,000 for a mortgage that had already been paid off. 

Mr Morley said he was sorry for making the claim, but promised that "I will demonstrate that it was a mistake". 


This is Not a Picture of Margaret Moran the Member of Parliament.

According to the Financial Times it is also alleged that Margaret Moran used parliamentary resources to help a company partially run from her constituency office win up to £50,000 of public funding and business sponsorship between 2006 and 2008. 

Hundreds of documents seen by the Financial Times dated from 2006 to 2008 show that Ms Moran used her parliamentary staff to write funding bids for Equality Networks (EQN), a non-profit group of which she is the non-remunerated chair, telling one that the salary the individual received was tied to working for EQN. Michael Booker, her fiancé, is one of two company directors. Her constituency office also helped organise “great networking opportunities” at EQN conferences with ministers personally invited by Ms Moran.

When EQN bids for funding were unsuccessful, Ms Moran repeatedly used Commons-headed paper to intervene with local authorities and Whitehall departments to express her “concern and amazement”.

A statement authorised by Ms Moran in response to the FT stated that “Margaret has never written any letters for EQN on parliamentary headed notepaper”.

However, the FT has seen copies of letters written by Ms Moran in 2007 on Commons-headed paper supporting EQN funding bids and personal invitations to EQN events sent to businesses on Commons headed paper.

MPs remain entitled to two pay-offs so long as they serve until the general election, rather than resign immediately. MPs who step down, or lose their seats, at an election are paid a "resettlement grant" to compensate for loss of salary. It ranges between six months' and one year's pay depending on age and length of service.

An MP aged between 55 and 64 who has been in Parliament for 15 years will be paid a year's salary – £64,766 at current rates. The first £30,000 is tax-free. In addition, all MPs can claim a maximum of £40,799 for "winding-up costs" to pay off staff and end office leases. They also benefit from a final salary pension scheme heavily subsidised by the taxpayer. 


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