Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Memo to self(ish)

We now see that over-paid "researchers" can be at least a fiddle, at worst (and as Malcolm maintains) a fraud on the public purse. Time for a full review of the system.

As Malcolm has said previously, back in 1974 (when he twice was Parliamentary candidate), an MP was "paid" about the same as a senior teacher in schools. Today the difference is around a factor of two for "pay". On top of that come the "expenses": an average of £135,800 per MP.

There's another aspect, perhaps not quite as bad, but equally as rich in displaying the contempt of MPs for "the little people" (© Leona Helmsley, 1992).

Go to http://www.w4mp.org/ and one can find MPs advertising "internships". These can amount to unpaid labour by political wannabes, perhaps actually doing research, and desperate to burnish their CVs.

Even w4mp.org says of this arrangement:
... there are many people able or prepared to work in the political field unpaid or for expenses only, as a means of getting a foot in the door or to gain useful experience. However, w4mp also encourages potential employers to advertise for paid positions and draws their attention to the guidance on ethical internships and the National Minimum Wage helpline.
Derek Conway MP, who has been the prime scapegoat in question here, has a lot more to answer. The Sunday Times was questioning his behaviour as long ago as 27th May 2007:
A SENIOR Tory MP is paying his son to act as his parliamentary assistant even though he is still a full-time undergraduate at university.

Commons records reveal that Frederick Conway was paid at the rate of £981 a month from the parliamentary staffing allowance handed to his father Derek, a former government whip.

Derek Conway’s wife, Colette, is also on the payroll and is paid £3,271 a month as another of his registered parliamentary assistants, according to the returns for November last year.
In addition to which:
Conway, now MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup in southeast London, has previously attracted criticism over his expenses. In 2005-6, he claimed £4,072 for car mileage, which can be claimed for journeys between home, Westminster and the constituency, and for travel up to 20 miles outside of an MP’s seat on local business. Conway’s claim would equate to about 1,000 trips between Westminster and his constituency.

He also claims the full allowance for the costs of running a second home for those who need a constituency and a central London base.
Nice to see that the ministryoftruth (now being added to Malcolm's side-bar, for services rendered) has all this, and more:
For the last full year (2006-7), Conway claimed £22,060 for a second home in London plus a total of £6537 in travel expenses (£3936 in car allowances, £239 rail fares and £2308 for European travel); this from an MP whose constituency office in Sidcup is, according to the AA, a matter of 13.4 miles from the House of Commons.
Which 13.4 miles Conway must know intimately, having travelled it three times a day, every day, throughout the year. Sphere: Related Content

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