Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Andrew Bingham MP Replies

I emailed my MP last Thursday afternoon having heard Miller’s apology for an apology at midday. There are a couple of factual inaccuracies which became clearer over the weekend (the amount was £45k not £100k and the amount she made on the sale of her house was £1.2 million).

“I am disgusted at the way Miller has behaved. 

There are times when you despair. Our Parliamentarians, despite many claims of having ‘learned lessons’ and ‘moved on,’ have done no such bloody thing. 

The apology for an apology delivered by Greedy Miller was heard in silence. MPs cannot all be on the take. Can they? Many will have sat there thinking ‘there but for the grace of god etc go I.’ Hence the silence. There must be some decent, honest, transparent MPs who feel as affronted as the citizens of this country. Who feel sick to the bottom of their stomach at not only the fraud, but the hard-faced brass-neckery of the fraud. And her disdainful treatment of the process. So why did they keep their gobs shut? Why were they not howling with rage at the effrontery of the woman? 

Add the collusion of the Standards Committee - made up of chums from the Commons rather than a jury of electors. 
The  Commissioner recommended she pay back £100,000. Bit of a difference. 

And Cameron - giving her his full support. She is Minister for Equality as well as Culture. What a joke. A fraudulent culture - apparently according to the Telegraph she made £1.4 million on this house which we paid her mortgage for, when she sold it recently - and had her parents living there at our expense. Tony McNulty resigned when caught doing the same thing. 

Equality? One law for the rich and powerful and another for the rest of us. It stinks. 

Nigel Farrago played the Trust Card very well in his debate with the hapless Clegg last night. It chimes with the electorate. We are entering dangerous waters when ultra rightwing parties thrive with the supine collusion of our bastions of democracy who are supposed to maintain standards yet turn blind eyes to offences which would end up with a poor person going to jail. 

Double standards fuel extremist attitudes. Parliament needs reform. MPs are incapable of judging themselves. We need an independent system made up in part at least with members of the electorate. And we need Recall.

Not impressed.” 

The following email arrived today (8th April). It was sent via his office manager. 

“Thank you for your e-mail regarding Maria Miller and the issue of her expenses. Given the nature of the issue and that it is still very live please excuse an e-mail response as opposed to my normal letter.  I wanted you to know my views as soon as possible as I view this whole matter extremely seriously. 

Whilst much of the issue relates to mortgage interest payment prior to the last elections, something that is now no longer permissible, only rental costs may be claimed, I can fully understand the indignation felt by yourself and many others.

As I am sure you will be aware, I have always striven to ensure that any of my claims have been open and above board.  They are open for anyone to see and on many occasions I have not put claims in because I didn't feel comfortable despite the fact that they would have been permissible.

Prior to the 2010 election I produced a ‘Candidates Contract’ on the matter and I can confirm to you that I have adhered strictly to it.  I have never claimed for food, I have never claimed for first class rail travel and I have never employed a member of family.  Any accommodation claims relate directly to the small flat I rent in Lambeth.  No accommodation claims relate to my family home in the High Peak.

Whilst I do not relish openly criticising colleagues, neither do I blindly defend one no matter what.  Therefore,  I have to say that after my own comments prior to the last election that adhering to the spirit of the rules is equally as important as sticking to the rules themselves, and I am afraid to say it appears that this has not been the case here, then I would be somewhat ingenuous to say that there is no case to answer.

There is a bigger question also to be answered. Whilst the Standards Commissioner identified that there was an error of £45,000, the Parliamentary Committee on Standards ruled that only £5,800 should be repaid.  This committee is made up of MPs and if nothing else then this issue has exposed that system as being wrong.  As MP's pay and expenses is taken out of our hands and placed into the hands of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority - an independent body, then I feel that this process should also be taken out of MP's hands. This will remove the ‘marking their own homework’ accusations.

We need to work very hard to re establish peoples trust in politics and politicians.  I have tried very hard to do that through my own financial conduct, treating the public funds as if they were my own, but I do tend to despair when an incident like this can undermine everything I have striven very hard to do for the last four years. I hope you don't mind but I have made your views very apparent to senior colleagues here in Westminster although I have not given your name as I would ask your permission to do such a thing. 

As MPs we have a duty to maintain the highest standards of financial propriety. Any slip from those standards should carry a penalty commensurate with that slip. It’s what people would expect and indeed what I would expect” Andrew Bingham MP High Peak.

If many of his colleagues share his view then her days are surely numbered. The 1922 Committee are meeting tonight and that could be the last nail. 

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