ARTICLE: Was Guy Fawkes the Last Honest Man to Pass through Westminster?

Hat tip: http://www.westernspring.co.uk/was-guy-fawkes-the-last-good-man-to-pass-through-westminster/

Imagine a government that would deliberately take millions away from the budget meant to educate its own nation’s children, while at the time use billions to send foreign aid to other nations who don’t need it?

That would be nothing less than treason. You cannot imagine any sane government doing such a thing. Think of, for example, China, or Japan, deliberately depriving its own people of an education while giving money to Korea? It just wouldn’t happen, because the Chinese and the Japanese would—rightly—regard that as nothing less than treason.

Of course, you guessed it: Britain’s House of Treason down by the banks of the old river, has done precisely that—and no-one seems to know or care.

The Tory-Lib-Dem-Labour party—because they are just all the same party—is busy with much-vaunted “budget cuts” to “save the economy” (after they and their big business bank cronies screwed it over in the first place) and one of the first cuts to be announced was in the education arena.

Any parent with university-age going children is well aware that uni fees have now rocketed from a manageable amount just two or three years ago, to an impossible £9,000 per year—and that is just for the tutoring fees, never mind books, resources, living allowances, residence and so on.

Even those students “lucky” enough to get loans, start off their working lives with tens of thousands of pounds of debt—an impossible burden which—even more importantly—makes starting a family next to impossible.

The nuts and bolts of the process are as follows: England’s university budgets were cut by £449 million in 2010, with similar cuts being added each following year. This means that over £1.3 billion has been cut in the last three years, and there is no end yet in sight. By the end of 2014, the total uni education budget cut will be cut by nearly £4 billion.

In practical terms, this means that the universities have had at least 6,000 fewer places each academic year.

In addition, research funding has been frozen and the uni buildings budget cut by 15 percent.

At the same time, the Government has announced that taxpayers will hand over £50.8 billion in foreign aid to the Third World by 2014. This translates to 61 percent of the total “spending review” cuts announced by the Government.

According to a press release issued by the Department for International Development (DFID), the total foreign aid budget will reach the targeted 0.7 percent of Gross National Income (GNI) by 2013.

This would mean a yearly spend of £12.6 billion, the DFID said.

This increased spending, the DFID said, is “in line with the UK’s international commitments to help those living in extreme poverty in our world. Over the course of the Spending Review period, the Department for International Development will increase resource spending by 35 percent in real terms, and increase capital spending by 20 percent in real terms.”

This means that the foreign aid budget was £8.4 billion in 2010, £8.7 billion in 2011, £9.1 billion in 2012, and will be £12.0 billion in 2013, and £12.6 billion in 2014—totalling £50.8 billion by the end of 2014.

So there you have it: cut the education budget by £4 billion, but boost the foreign aid budget by £50 billion.

Who would dare call it treason?  I for one, and I am increasingly becoming convinced that the last honest man to pass through the halls of Westminster was indeed Guy Fawkes.

ARTICLE: M.P.s Demands Free Food

PAMPERED MPs want free meals after complaining of MICE and “stinking” cut-price grub in the Commons.

They want taxpayers to pick up the entire bill for all they scoff.

Many complain of “weird” menus served up in “Soviet-style” restaurants INFESTED with mice — and say the food is not worth paying for. But taxpayers fork out£5.8MILLION a year to subsidise their meals.

One MP wrote: “I saw a mouse in the Members’ Tea Room about which I made comment to a member of staff. The member of staff was pretty matter of fact — to the point that I got the impression that the sight of a rodent was par for the course!”

Scores moaned about the standard of their heavily-subsidised food in a survey of politicians and their staff.

They whinged about the wine waiters and complained that coffee bar staff did not know the difference between a cappuccino and a latte.

The complaints about the cheap meals and wine at Westminster come in a survey of MPs and their staff conducted by private pollsters — costing taxpayers another £27,790.

Details obtained under Freedom of Information laws lay bare the full extent of the dissatisfaction. A typical meal — rib-eye steak with hand-cut chips and Béarnaise sauce — costs two quid — £7.80, less a taxpayers’ subsidy of £5.92.

But one MP whinged: “The restaurants are Soviet-style. Vegetables are horrendously overcooked, meat is often raw.

“Sandwiches taste like they have been frozen for three months. It’s a shocker.”

Another blasted: “The food is really starting to stink.”

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/politics/article4391212.ece

UKIP leader’s insurance company at heart of Costa Rica bribe claims

The insurance business that made the fortune of the new leader of the UK Independence party (Ukip) is embroiled in an international bribery scandal that could lead to criminal charges in the UK, according to documents obtained by the Observer.

 

A detailed indictment served in Costa Rica this month alleges that a subsidiary of PWS, the insurance brokers which Lord Pearson of Rannoch founded and chaired, grossly overcharged the small central American state for its insurance premiums.

 

The Serious Fraud Office is investigating, and has arrested a number of PWS executives for questioning.

 

But the company itself will face no penalty if the prosecution succeeds; it has been disposed of to another insurance broker since the scandal broke, and the rump of PWS which holds the liability for any fine or penalty is in liquidation and without funds.

 

PWS is alleged to have paid bribes of more than $700,000 (£426,000) into a bank account linked to the then Costa Rican president, Angel Rodríguez, and provided a $1.6m slush fund for workers of the state insurance company.

 

Friends of Malcolm Pearson, the Thatcherite peer elected on Friday as the leader of the anti-European and anti-Cameron Ukip, said he knew “absolutely nothing about the alleged payments”.

 

The indictment alleges that Pearson himself, as company chairman, was warned of the existence of the slush fund by a new Costa Rican regime which was probing corruption allegations as long ago as September 2005. The friends said he had never received the letter from the Costa Rican authorities. It had been diverted from his attention by others in the firm he chaired. One said: “He was contacted by the British ambassador in May 2006, which was the first he knew of it.”

Read on

Fraud charges in MPs’ expenses row move step closer as police send four files to prosecutors

Up to four MPs and peers are to face fraud charges over the expenses scandal by early in the New Year, it emerged today.

In a move which shook through the political establishment, detectives have referred case files on four parliamentarians to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Police believe there is sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges in each of the cases, sources said.

 

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, is expected to rubber stamp charges against the politicians by February.

Such a development would result in the highly embarrassing spectacle of MPs and peers appearing in court before next May’s expected General Election.

The politicians could face charges of fraud or false accounting, with maximum penalties of ten or seven years. There was no official word today on which cases had been sent to the CPS.

However it is known that police believe there is strong evidence against Labour MPs Elliot Morley and David Chaytor, and Labour peer Baroness Uddin, and that such cases were likely to be in the first batch of files to be considered by prosecution lawyers.

Other politicians believed to be under police investigation include Labour MP Jim Devine, Lord Hanningfield and Lord Clarke of Hampstead.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: ‘The Metropolitan Police Service has today delivered four main files of evidence relating to parliamentary expenses to the Crown Prosecution Service.

‘The files relate to four people, from both the House of Lords and the House of Commons, and will now be subject to CPS consideration on whether there should be any charges.

‘A small number of cases remain under investigation.’

Read on

No one knows what happens if retiring MPs refuse to make their repayments

harriet-harperson

The MPs who are most likely to defy Legg are those who are standing down. They have little to lose in saying that they won’t abide by the retrospectively imposed caps on various things. The question of whether they could be compelled to pay this money back looks like it could turn into a major row. In an interview with Andrew Neil to be broadcast tomorrow Harriet Harman seems to have no concrete idea of how this process might actually work:

Andrew Neil: What would happen to an MP of any party, what would happen to an MP who decides that he or she is standing down at the next election and refuses to pay up?

HH: Well, I think that we haven’t got to that situation. I think that…

AN: What would happen?

HH: Well, we, we, we, you know, I think that that’s an entirely hypothetical situation but I mean…

AN: It could happen – many people are not standing again, many people have had requests from Legg to pay back. What happens if they don’t pay back the money?

HH: Well, I think they will pay back, they will pay back.

AN: Even if they’re standing down?

HH: Well, the House of Common’s authorities, the Members’ Estimates Committee, will have the responsibility at that point to ensure that money which the Members’ Estimates Committee feels needs to be recouped on the back of the Legg investigation is recouped. I mean, that’s what the situation will be.

Read on

300 MPs ‘face expenses challenge’

pigs[1]

More than 300 MPs could be asked either to repay money or provide further information to justify their expenses claims, it has been reported.

MPs are set to receive letters next week about their claims over the past five years.

Auditors are expected to ask up to 325 members to justify instances where they have received public money, or to repay it, The Sunday Telegraph reported.

The letters are reportedly being sent out by former civil servant Sir Thomas Legg, who has been leading a review of all claims since 2004.

Sir Thomas is believed to be examining cases where MPs have used parliamentary expenses to improve their second homes and make a profit, rather than just maintain them.

He is also said to have uncovered more examples where taxpayers’ money has been used to pay off the capital element of mortgages, instead of just interest on the borrowing, as is allowed under the rules.

The letters will be sent out privately, and Sir Thomas is not expected to deliver his final report until December. They will also receive an email containing a detailed analysis of their use of the Additional Costs Allowance, which is intended to help meet the costs of running a second home, the newspaper reported.

MPs will be told they have three weeks to challenge Sir Thomas’s findings and can appeal to the Commons’ standards and privileges committee if they do not agree with his conclusions. According to the BBC, the Prime Minister could be among those asked to pay back cash.

In an interview, Gordon Brown said he believed the “worst offenders” in the scandal should be prosecuted.

Read on

Ministers’ pension pots are worth £9 million

a nice little earner

The full value of the gold-plated pensions of Government ministers can be revealed today, with new figures showing that they are worth a total of nearly £9m this year.

Official figures unearthed by the Liberal Democrats show that total pension funds for the members of the Government have shot up from the £6,888,081 declared last year to £8,954,348 this year.

The rises are understood to be largely the result of a change in accounting rules which means that the full value of ministers’ pensions is being revealed for the first time.

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MPs’ expenses mole: anger over Armed Forces’ treatment led to leak

Anger over the British Government’s failure to equip the Armed Forces properly, while politicians lavished taxpayers’ money on themselves, led to the leak of MPs’ expenses files.

The mole who leaked the data has told his story for the first time, in the hope that it will shame the Government into finally supplying the right equipment for the thousands of soldiers risking their lives in Afghanistan.

Politicians “still don’t get it”, he said, adding that they were still preoccupied with their own financial situation and MPs’ claims rather than the plight of troops.

“It’s not easy to watch footage on the television news of a coffin draped in a Union Jack and then come in to work the next day and see on your computer screen what MPs are taking for themselves,” he said.

“Hearing from the serving soldiers, about how they were having to work there to earn enough money to buy themselves decent equipment, while the MPs could find public money to buy themselves all sorts of extravagances, only added to the feeling that the public should know what was going on.

“That helped tip the balance in the decision over whether I should or should not leak the expenses data.”

His account appears in No Expenses Spared, a book which is published today and discloses the full story of what Gordon Brown described as “the biggest Parliamentary scandal for two centuries”.

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MPs’ expenses: public backs Telegraph after mole revelations

Voters have praised The Daily Telegraph’s handling of the MPs’ expenses scandal, after the disclosure that the information was leaked by a mole angry at the underfunding of British troops in Afghanistan.

Readers of newspapers across the political spectrum have said that the Telegraph was justified in paying for files of expenses claims that have so far led to more than £500,000 being returned to the taxpayer.

Revelations that the expenses system was being abused to fund lavish home improvements have led to a clear-out of MPs at Westminster, with dozens of members deciding to step down at the next election.

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The MPs’ expenses investigation: PCC rulings

The Press Complaints Commission has published its adjudication on the complaints of two MPs in respect of The Daily Telegraph’s coverage.

David Kidney, MP – not upheld

Mr David Kidney, Member of Parliament for Stafford, complained to the Press Complaints Commission that an article headlined “MPs made inflated council tax claims”, published in The Daily Telegraph on June 20 2009, was misleading in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the editors’ Code of Practice.

Read on for the detailed report.

MPs’ expenses probe to be delayed again

The official review into MPs expenses will not conclude until the New Year, throwing the run-up to the general election into chaos, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

The delay means that candidates face the prospect of fighting the general election within weeks of a renewed outcry. -Good, perhaps this will deliver justice that has not, hitherto, been dealt.

When Gordon Brown appointed Sir Thomas Legg to carry out a thorough audit of all claims following The Daily Telegraph’s disclosures in May of widespread abuse of the system, MPs were privately told to expect the outcome in September.

Read on

Disinfecting Parliament

With Sir Christopher Kelly’s Committee on Standards in Public Life’s official review intended to placate the public over the expenses crisis, the Sunlight Centre has released an independent shadow report, with a foreword by Douglas Carswell MP, laying out a system to stop MPs’ abuse of expenses once and for all. The report, “Disinfecting Parliament” provides a tough benchmark by which to judge Sir Christopher Kelly’s recommendations. It includes proposals to pay MPs’ expenses from a single bank account with public statement, to give MPs housing in the Olympic village, and to let the press and public into the hallowed halls of Parliament.

http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/disinfecting-parliament/7691916

MPs’ expenses: how disbelief turned to anger among workers hired to process claims

ABOVE: PARASITE: (Chambers English Dictionary) A creature which obtains food and physical protection from a host which never benefits from its presence.

For the two dozen parliamentary staff, civil servants and security guards who filed into a small room at The Stationery Office in July 2008, the task of processing countless thousands of MPs’ expense receipts seemed to promise nothing more than months of tedium.

But in the days and weeks that followed, the prevailing mood among them was one of disbelief, and then anger, as they discovered that MPs were claiming millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to feather their nests with almost every luxury money can buy.

The workers became so incensed as they pored over receipts for home cinema systems, new kitchens, food, furniture and second homes that managers had to order them not to tell any of their friends or family about what they had seen.

What the managers did not know until months later was that one of the people hired to help conceal details of the MPs’ greed by “redacting” the receipts decided that the public had a right to know what their money was being spent on.

The mole has broken his silence to describe for the first time why he decided to risk the wrath of Parliament by leaking the expenses files, through an intermediary, to The Daily Telegraph.

Read on

MPs’ expenses: Dead soldier’s father-in-law condemns MPs’ excessive claims

The father-in-law of a soldier killed on patrol in Afghanistan condemned MPs for claiming excessive expenses while servicemen were forced to pay for life-saving equipment.

The father-in-law of a soldier killed on patrol in Afghanistan condemned MPs for claiming excessive expenses while servicemen were forced to pay for life-saving equipment.

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MPs’ expenses: payment ‘was clearly in public interest’

National newspaper editors and media commentators on Friday defended The Daily Telegraph’s decision to pay for the MPs’ expenses files.

Respected media figures have said the payment was entirely justified on public interest grounds.

Roger Alton, the editor of The Independent, said: “It is 100 per cent legitimate to have paid for such a superb story which has transformed the nature of politics. It has demonstrated the powers of newspapers and the motivation behind the exposure was highly honourable. It ticks every right box.”

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UKIP Treasurer Quits in Dispute over Funding Misappropriation

The high-profile Brussels whistleblower who became the treasurer of UKIP has stormed out of her new post and blown the whistle again — over the anti-EU party’s financial decisions.

Marta Andreasen, who achieved notoriety when she was sacked as chief accountant of the European Commission for exposing the appalling state of EU accounts, was appointed treasurer of UKIP in 2007 to “restore faith” in the party’s finances.

Her appointment was seen as a huge coup for the party, but her resignation is likely to unsettle donors, not least Stuart Wheeler the gambling millionaire, who was expelled by the Conservatives for giving UKIP £100,000 for the European elections. He cited Mrs Andreasen as a key reason for his switching allegiance

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