Tuesday, 12 May 2009

MPs expenses

The following is taken from the blog site of local blogger WestBrom Blogger. He/she refers to our MP’s expenses which were reported in the Telegraph which unfortunately I did not see.

"It was bound to happen eventually, the Telegraph has revealed the expense claims of our local MP, Tom Watson. There are few surprises. Aside from the £100 per week “Two Dinners Tommy” claims for food -I’m not quite sure why MP’s can claim for food, I too work and I too eat food, yet I have to pay for it – Watson along with Iain Wright MP managed to lavish a whopping £100k of our cash on his second home* in London. That’s some gold plated pigsty. Tom even managed to spend so much taxpayers cash in one shopping spree, that Marks and Spencer’s presented him with a free Pizza Wheel as a show of gratitude. The irony clearly wasn’t lost on them.
In 2006-2007, Watson pocketed the basic MP's salary of a shade under £60,000. His parliamentary expenses amounted to £150,000-plus - bringing his total package to £211,000- the second-highest among MPs in the Midlands.
As previously revealed, when you add in the money paid to his wife, who he employees in his office, and the various other Watson’s dotted around the West Midlands offices of various Labour figures, that comes to state funded package of £300k for the family. Not bad going.Tom represents one of the most impoverished constituencies in England where the average wage is a mere fraction of the Watson clans state funded income or expenses. I’m sure they will be pleased with the way he spends their hard earned wages…
*Which, incidently
they purchased freehold at the taxpayers expense, thus adding significantly to the value of the property.They are under no obligation to pass on any of the profits to the taxpayer on selling the home".
Posted by Posted by WestBrom Blogger

The argument though seems to me to have some flaws. I would expect Mr. Watson to want to respond to this but let me make a couple of observations. He mentions spending on food. This can be a genuine expense in the case of off site expenditure when for example on a business trip or out of normal environment arrangement. I don’t know what Tom’s schedule is but it could be a genuine expense.
In respect to his wife working for him and the reference to his being one of the most impoverished constituencies in the country. When I have had to deal with his office I have always found them very efficient and helpful. This I am sure is in no short measure due to the effort put in by his wife and other members of his team. Because the constituency is impoverished it would follow that a lot more people have problems and hence a higher expenditure for dealing with them would it not?
The second home issue seems to me that because he is sharing with another MP he is in effect saving the taxpayer money. Although the sum published seems very extravagant.
The M&S shopping trip! Well, I once purchased a series of gift vouchers for a project I was undertaking and negotiated extra vouchers as part of the deal. It was not a substantial amount of money but they did it in good faith. So without the details of the shopping and exactly what happened I would be reluctant to criticise him on that.
In respect to the other family members surely unless they are paid directly from Tom’s expenses and they are in other parts of the country this is irrelevant to this argument.
I think though that Tom does need to put the record straight.
The voters of West Brom East deserve it.
My thanks to WestBrom Blogger for permission to use the post.
So come on Tom lets hear it from you.

No comments: