Wednesday, 4 November 2009

A report to make Iris cry into her heart shaped pillow.

The Committee on Standards in Public Life has finally published its report on MPs’ expenses and allowances. The BBC has a PDF of the full ‘Kelly Report’ and a useful synopsis for the impatient or time restricted reader. Some of its recommendations will send a chill up the collective spines of Northern Ireland’s MPs, particularly those within the DUP. It is worth remembering that the conduct which the report recommends is best practice which MPs should have abided by in the first instance.

Recommendation 40:

The practice of permitting a Westminster MP simultaneously to sit in a devolved legislature should be brought to an end, ideally by the time of the elections to the three devolved legislatures scheduled for May 2011.

Which is augmented by the following observations in the introduction,

16 out of 18 Northern Ireland Westminster MPs are also members of the Northern Ireland Assembly. Five of them currently hold ministerial positions there. The only other example of dual mandates is that the First Minister of the Scottish Parliament is also an MP. He has indicated that he will not be standing at the next Westminster election. We recommend that ‘double jobbing’, as it is known in Northern Ireland, should be brought to an end, ideally by the next elections to the Assembly in 2011. We recognise that this will be a demanding timetable but the issue is an important one.

The DUP, of course, has recently backtracked on its commitment to end double jobbing.

Recommendation 15:

MPs should no longer be able to appoint members of their own families to their staff and pay them with public funds. Those currently employing family members should be able to continue to do so for the life of one further Parliament or five years, whichever is the longer.

Five generous years, which will allow the Robinson clan to scrutinise closely the ‘help wanted’ ads.

Recommendation 14:

MPs who share second home accommodation as partners should be entitled between them to claim up to a limit of one individual cap on rent or mortgage payments, plus one-third.

I know poor old Iris will feel unfairly victimised, but she and Peter were conspicuous offenders again. They were one of a number of parliamentary couples claiming double mortgage helpings on one property. She should indulge in a good old cry into one of the ‘heart shaped cushions’ in her humble east Belfast shack.

The opulence of their home is striking. Curtains of wine and gold silk rising into a central coronet; towering Chinese vases; hundreds of china figurines and sculptures – Marie Antoinette inches away from the Last Supper. Chandeliers hang in every room – "I think I was born in another era," Iris says. Each room is themed: the dining room is Oriental; a sitting room is old English; the bathroom is Italian; one bedroom is Scottish, another French

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You missed this line:
“The Committee questions whether it is possible to sit in two national legislatures simultaneously and do justice to both roles, particularly if the MP concerned holds a ministerial position in one of them."
Ouch poor, poor Peter