Saturday, June 4, 2011

Carry on claiming, expenses fraud Labour MP Eric Illsley carried on claiming after guilty plea and nothing could be done about it!

Dear All

In a footnote to the former Labour MP Eric Illsley saga involving expenses, he was being paid thousand of pounds in expenses after pleading guilty to expenses fraud.

Yes, you couldn’t make it up.

Maybe someone will make a movie but it will have to be a comedy to get bums on seats.

Illsley admitted his guilt on 11 January but refused to resign his seat until 8 February, two days before he was jailed.

During that time, he successfully claimed £2,253 for photocopier hire and £19.95 for food and travel in the intervening period.

The expenses watchdog Ipsa said under the rules, he was entitled to claim up until the point he was no longer an MP.

And the rules are the rules even when someone is breaking them.

Illsley was paid a total of £6,766 for claims submitted in January and February.

And the kicker is that the IPSA say there was no provision in its rules to claw the money back.

Joined up government?

And let’s remember it was Gordon Brown and the Labour Government who in a knee jerk reaction set up the IPSA to ‘reform’ expenses.

They didn’t do a good job, the scheme is a shambles.

Illsley was jailed for a year after admitting to expenses fraud totalling £14,000.

He was released last month and is serving the rest of his sentence under a home detention curfew.

Career ruined.

The details of Illsley's claims were included in the latest batch of expenses figures released by the Parliamentary watchdog which reveals money paid to MPs in January and February this year.

In total, almost 25,000 claims were submitted and £3.2m was paid.

Eighty four MPs had a total of £4,633 they asked for rejected.

MPs spent £880,000 on official payment cards which are similar to credit cards since May 2010, these cards have a monthly credit limit of £4,000 were originally meant to pay for travel alone.

Now, they can also be used for hotels, utilities and other bills.

Seems fine and means that purchases are traceable.
In one case of claiming, Lib Dem Transport Minister Norman Baker had a £15 bill for a "restaurant meal" turned down because it was not categorised as a legitimate expense.

The reason was that MPs can claim for dinner if the House of Commons sits later than 7.30pm and on the day in question, it rose at 7.29pm.

That in my mind seems a bit harsh; I think that if the House doesn’t rise before 6 pm, then members should be allowed to claim for dinner.

The most common cause for claims being rejected is "insufficient evidence" in other words, non-provision of receipts or tickets for travel.

That is why there should be more used of the official payment cards so that people don’t lose out.

MPs get a decent salary and experience an interesting life but they pay for it with long hours and lost of family life to a great extent.

But we still expect their trust as a right.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

No comments: