The Blog of
Nadine Dorries
Posted Thursday, 21 May 2009 at 11:12

I've finished going through all my receipts and thought I had better make some things crystal clear:

I do NOT own a home in South Africa.

I do NOT own a home from which I receive a rental income.

I do rent a home/office in my constituency which is paid for by the ACA. The Green Book rules state ' if an MPs designated main home is not in either London or the constituency the ACA can be used to buy or rent in either'.

There is no stipulation on nights to be spent in either location.

I chose to rent in the constituency and not buy.

I do, from my own money, pay for a rental property I have designated as my main home. It is near the former marital home where my children were born and went to school; and where my youngest lived permanently, and attended school until September 2008.

I will buy again when the market settles down.

I have not used the ACA to buy furniture, sofas, plasma screen TVs, gardening, decorating, home repairs or any luxury items.

I did use it to buy a cooker, table dryer, desk, computer table and storage boxes from Ikea as one off relocation costs in the first year.

I furnished the house with items from my main home, a couple of donations from my mother, and beds that I paid for myself from John Lewis.

I have not claimed the £400 per month food allowance.

I have not claimed the £250 petty cash each month.

I have purchased and lost two digital cameras at two garden fetes and broken a Sat Nav.

We have ordered chocolate biscuits and tea bags with our stationary rather than using petty cash.

I used a chartered accountant to make sure that HMRC received my correct tax payments.

That's it.

The atmosphere in Westminster is unbearable. People are constantly checking to see if others are ok. Everyone fears a suicide. If someone isn't seen, offices are called and checked.

All because this country has never had a Prime Minister with the political courage to stand up to the British media, and award MPs the pay rise proposed year after year, by the Senior Salary Review Board.

Year after year the salary stayed the same; but the allowances were increased, were called allowances, not expenses, and MPs were told to use them.

I wonder how many people are aware, that if you are an MP and divorce, the courts base your maintenance payments to your husband/wife/children on a combination of your ACA and your salary.

This is because the ACA is classed as an allowance, not an expense account, and is considered by the court as the property of the MP.

An interesting legal point. One of the confusing facts, which has got us into this mess.

No MP must ever, ever have to vote for his or her salary again; and no Prime Minister should ever have the power to use MPs' pay as a political pawn.

Hopefully the good which will come from this will be radical reform, which will prevent such a disaster ever occurring again.

witteringsfromwitney said:
Responded: Thursday, 21 May 2009
Good points Nadine - you are coming round to my way of thinking! Nice to see categorical statements made in plain English! There is hope for you yet (jesting, I hasten to add!)
James Burdett said:
Responded: Thursday, 21 May 2009
Nadine, I'm not sure that saying that MP's shouldn't vote for their salaries is a good idea. The alternative is to empower those that are unaccountable to the voters. Can't we have a system like in the US where the salaries are automatically adjusted for cost of living and anything above that is voted on by representatives but isn't effective until after the next election. I just don't like this idea that the argument that to clean up politics we remove the decision making from electorally accountable people to unaccountable bodies.
Rachel said:
Responded: Thursday, 21 May 2009
Brilliant post. Honesty at last. Of course MPs have topped up their salaries with the expenses - and if everyone just came out and said that, a line could be drawn and everyone move on. £64K is a joke. In the organisation I work for, graduates can expect to earn at that level after just five years of experience. Helena Kennedy QC was on TV this am and said that £90K was a more sensible figure - in line with a high court judge, and I would say, if you look at professional salaries in London, £100K would be an appropriate benchmark. It is absolutely right that salaries should be set outside of the HoC, benchmarked and independently reviewed.
Rachel said:
Responded: Thursday, 21 May 2009
James Burdett's comments are nonsense. Salaries paid should be benchmarked against eqivalent professional salaries (as Helena Kennedy suggested this morning a High Court judge is a good starting point). The benchmarking data can be published so that it is a transparent and open process. Individuals working in professional services know that in times of growth, salaries increase more steeply as individuals move around more and companies need to remain competitive and retain people and in times of recession, salaries remain flatter. In order to ensure that competent, high quality individuals are attracted to becoming MPs, salaries should be at least in line with what a professional should be paid. Clearly many people give up huge city salaries to go into politics and no-one is suggesting that MPs should be paid the equivalent or a city banker, but neither should they be paid a pittance.
lose the troughers said:
Responded: Thursday, 21 May 2009
Rachel, errr yes. can I just point out that the salary of an MP IS already set at circa 100k - ca. 64 plus the 24 "allowance" grosses up to 40k. Ms Dorries, thank you for setting all this out - much clearer and better written than previously and far more hitting the level we expect from an elected representative.
Rachel said:
Responded: Thursday, 21 May 2009
'Lose the troughers' - you miss the point entirely. The base salary should be £100K and MPs should not have to produce a pile of receipts to justify 40% of it. Hence the mess that has now been created. Any additional costs of staying in London above the costs of their constituency home should also be claimed as an expense.
Anonymous said:
Responded: Thursday, 21 May 2009
Rachel, I think you will find that you win more people to your arguments if you post them in a polite and calm way. Maybe think about that in future? PS has anyone seen the latest idiocy of Steen?
Dave said:
Responded: Thursday, 21 May 2009
At last, an MP with balls who spells it out as it was/is. Clearly, judging by the number of decent MPs and the variations in their use of the ACA, commonsense should dictate that it was normal to assume the ACA was available to use as a virtual extension to your pay. It is a pity none of your leaders are prepared to stand up and put the case for the defence. I don't know if you're familiar with the problems your predecessor experienced, but if you've got 5 mins to spare, Google 'Conduct of Jonathon Sayeed' A complaint was made against him which resulted in a report from the Committee on Standards and Privleges in 2005. Mr Sayeed had signed expense claims (ACA) for work done on both his London and Bedfordshire addresses. He admitted wrongdoing and paid back about £12,500. The DFA (Dept of Finance and Admin.)advised that procedures had then been put in place to ensure checks were made to assertain all claims were on the correct property.Mr Sayeed stated that none of his expenses had ever been queried by the DFA, which I assume is now the Fees Office. My point is the expense fiasco was happening way back in 2005 and steps should have been taken back then to reform them.
Anonymous said:
Responded: Thursday, 21 May 2009
That is interesting. If the court regards the ACA as part of salary then it is up to the MP what he does with it.
Anonymous said:
Responded: Thursday, 21 May 2009
tut tut biscuits on the stationary budget - to the tower with you (hung, drawn and quartered of course!!)
Ian Alexander said:
Responded: Thursday, 21 May 2009
well said Nadine the point that ACA was seen as a substitute for pay is the cause of this problem and why may of your colleagues don't get it. They, rightly, think the contract between them and us (the public) is being torn up. A big pay rise and expenses is the way forward. Brown is a clown - but is it right that the PM is paid less than any Board Director of a plc in UK? This principle of pay extends the whole way through public service. MPs, Councillors et al get a small pittance. When compared to the people they work with. The member takes the decision on advice from the professional getting 5 times more. When things go wrong, the poorly paid member takes the blame, the highly paid professional is immune from all consequences. That deal too must end as part of this reform
Anonymous said:
Responded: Thursday, 21 May 2009
Whatever your view, you can not avoid the Green Book (2006 version) statement: "Members themselves are responsible for ensuring that their use of allowances is above reproach."
perdix said:
Responded: Thursday, 21 May 2009
Very interesting and very clear. Why hasn't this been explained in the so-called "quality press"? I have bookmarked your blog for future education!
Anonymous said:
Responded: Friday, 22 May 2009
'Everyone fears a suicide.' While I hope it does not come to that, perhaps it will give both your colleagues and yourself some pause for thought re what it is like to be on the receiving end of an Inland Revenue investigation for us ordinary folks. I am self employed with a modest turnover & underwent a 3 year investigation which nearly finished me. At the end of which I may add they found virtually nothing.
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