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'Bad smell' of the expenses row returns, says Swansea MP Geraint Davies

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: April 10, 2014

  • The expenses row has returned.

Comments (14)

A "BAD smell" has returned to the corridors of power, according to a Swansea MP in the wake of UK Culture Minister Maria Miller's resignation.

Geraint Davies said he believed Mrs Miller was right to step down yesterday.

"She had to apologise, and it's only right that she resigned," said the Labour member for Swansea West.

"There needs to be transparency, accountability and, at the same time, the public want good value for money."

Mr Davies said nobody talked to him solely about expenses, but added that the public discussed what they read in the press.

"Expenses have been heavily highlighted in the newspapers," he said. "It creates a bad smell in the background."Mrs Miller fell on her sword over a row which began when a national newspaper printed an article suggesting she had breached rules in force prior to 2010 about claiming second home costs. The MP for Basingstoke was investigated by the parliamentary commissioner for standards, who cleared her of making false claims but said she had over-claimed by £45,000 and should repay that amount.But this sum was reduced to £5,800 by MPs on the Commons Committee for Standards, who added that Mrs Miller should apologise to the House of Commons because her attitude to the commissioner’s inquiry had breached the parliamentary code of conduct.Her brief apology last week was felt to be under-whelming in many quarters, and pressure built.

Transparency is the name of the game since the expenses system was reformed in 2010.

They are now overseen by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) and, combined with other reforms, are said to have saved the taxpayer some £35 million.

Expense details are published online on Ipsa's website — and MPs must wonder when the subject will ever go away.

And would you expect to pay for your travel if your boss sent you off to London for the night?

In addition, doesn't a large claim in some areas perhaps indicate a hardworking MP?

Should constituents be concerned or pleased that their local member has gone through a load of stamps or made scores of journeys to Westminster?

A quick glance at the Ipsa website illustrates the long hours involved at the House of Commons, and the hefty price of London hotels where many MPs stay.

For example Mr Davies's accommodation claim of £8,579 during 2013/14 — with more claims pending — included hotel costs of up to £600. Neath MP Peter Hain (£5,786), Gower MP Martin Caton (£1,836) and Aberavon MP Dr Hywel Francis (£13,248) have had rental costs and bills to pay, while Swansea East MP Sian James has only claimed for a £125 hotel stay thus far.

There were no recorded accommodation claims for Llanelli MP Nia Griffith.

Costs for stationery, plus postage, also varied considerably. Ms Griffith and Mr Davies, and their staff, appeared busiest with their quills during 2013/14, claiming £8,594 and £8,085 respectively. Mr Hain claimed £5,265, ahead of Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP Jonathan Edwards (£3,289). Mrs James, meanwhile, claimed £148.

Living in South West Wales as an MP is bound to incur significant travel costs. In this category, claims by MPs in our region fluctuated less, with Mrs James highest (£4,559) and Mr Caton lowest (£2,740).

Mr Davies said: "The vast majority of MPs just do a good job. It gets tainted by the few."

Swansea University politics professor Jonathan Bradbury said he reckoned the public had relatively little awareness of the expenses reforms prior to the Mrs Miller row.

He said he believed the role of MPs in still having the final say on expenses disciplinary measures "is simply not tenable any more."

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  • abertawejack  |  April 14 2014, 9:57PM

    ATOS is dead and gone.......did anyone notice their grand departure? probably not, as most people weren't aware of it, strange why that was kept low within the media. Now lets see who's next in the ringmasters (Tory) circus. There are obviously scrounger come cheats which is highlighted at every opportunity throughout all media, but what I would like to know is...at what percentage? do scroungers/cheats differ from the needy.

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  • 163ct034  |  April 11 2014, 4:22PM

    boggs 1st things 1st labour and the tories are the same in my eye's they are the same backside just different cheeks of the the same #*%" hole!. people who voted for them in 1997 were let down big time. because they were sheep in wolfs clothing being that they turned into the tory party mark 2 .that is why the tories couldnt get back into power striaght away . the english tories kept voting new labour/the tories mk2 back into office. and 2nd you ask why bash the tories? well i will tell you why.the tories want to play "divide and rule". To distract the public from their failure to get the economy growing and control the rising bill for unemployment, they point the finger at families struggling to get by in an economy where opportunity has grown very, very thin. The truth is that, for all their rhetoric about making work pay or supporting strivers, it is working families and those in real need who are footing the bill for the government's catastrophic economic failure. In the same week when millionaires receive a tax cut, families will on average lose £891 a year and 400,000 disabled people will be hit by a bedroom tax which is deeply unfair.here are many reason why I hate the tories because of the benifits cuts ideology this Tory Government are making disabled people commit suicide because their benefits are being reduced. Helen & Mark Mullins both aged 48 killed themselves together in a suicide pact because they had become so poor as a result of Helen losing her DLA .Richard Sanderson a 44 year old former pilot took his life after he feared his family would be made homeless due to a cut in his housing benefit because of his inability to find work.Martin Rust aged 36, from Norwich, was declared fit to work by the DWP. Martin took his life and left his family with the note "To those I love I am sorry. Goodbye". Leanne Chambers aged 30 drowned herself after receiving a letter saying that she was fit to return to work. She had battled depression for years.Elaine Christian aged 57 slashed her wrist ten times and jumped into a river and drowned on route to a disability assessment to decide if her benefits should be taken from her. "These People Killed Themselves Because Of Government Cuts To Their Benefits. RIP"

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  • boggis  |  April 11 2014, 8:52AM

    To the last comment I say why bash the Tories; take a look at the Labour years and ask yourself why do there need to be cuts. We have no Gold reserves because Gordon Brown advised by Ed Balls ( now there's an appropriate name ) sold it at the bottom of the market. The last Labour Govt. squandered money as if it were confetti. Get a grip, stop moaning and use your vote; furthermore instead of wittering on in here mail your MP and tell him what you want him to do.

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  • 163ct034  |  April 10 2014, 4:27PM

    this Tory-led government's fetish for demonising the vulnerable in order to facilitate its attacks on their state support. Disabled people, young people, housing benefit claimants, the unemployed – all come under sustained propaganda attack from government spokespeople, echoed by the right-wing press and even, on occasion, by the BBC. This demonisation usually takes the form of some kind of 'scrounger' rhetoric, although the perpetrators will throw in 'shirker' or 'skiver' occasionally, just to mix it up a little. It's clearly a tactic aimed at the basest instincts of people who are able, or willing, to believe it and resent the 'scroungers' who are supposedly the opposite of the 'strivers', or 'those who work hard and do the right thing', according to the Tory mantra.Of course, the rhetoric has very little basis in fact. Most benefit recipient – 60% – are working people who are so poorly paid by their employers or so exploited by their landlords that they can't manage without state assistance. maybe people should become MP's who are the real scroungers here. MPs are paid an annual salary of £63,291 a year and claim expenses including a second homes allowance, travel costs, staff pay and stationery.claims ranged from the lowest of £44,551 to the highest of £185,421.On average, each MP claimed £135,600.MPs who do not represent inner London constituencies are entitled to claim up to about £24,000 a year towards the cost of a second home, or rented property - usually claimed for a property near Westminster.It allows claims for items like televisions, furniture, new kitchens and includes a £25-a-day "subsistence allowance", for food, coffees and other items on days of parliamentary business.MPs can also claim for subscription television services MPs are given up to £90,505 a year to employ staff and there is no rule against employing family members MPs can claim business-class air fares and first-class rail travel for parliamentary business within the UK and up to three visits a year to European institutions, as well as up to 15 return journeys a year for spouses or children.Other expenses claimed by MPs include a £2,812 London supplement for MPs representing inner London seats, a stationery allowance, an IT allowance of up to £3,000 and a £10,000-a-year communications allowance.MPs who lose their seat or stand down at a general election are also entitled to a "resettlement allowance" worth between 50% and 100% of their annual salary. (thats what i call 'SCROUNGERS') not the unemployed .

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  • 163ct034  |  April 10 2014, 4:07PM

    I wonder why the tax payers alliance has been so silent recently. If these were normal hard working people, that committed a crime and were in prison, you would never hear the end of it from them. (must be that most of them are tories)

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  • 163ct034  |  April 10 2014, 4:06PM

    and they still say those on benefits are on a something for nothing culture.. yet those MPs who went to jail for fiddling the tax payer didnt learn a thing while inside and continue to take the p#ss once they got out.

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  • 163ct034  |  April 10 2014, 4:04PM

    Makes you sick, they get away with everything and the poor people get hit hard, there expenses should be stopped all together, these MPs make enough money, the people of Britain have enough to pay for, how about letting us claim expenses for a change, it would soon stop then !!

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  • boggis  |  April 10 2014, 12:15PM

    Now there is a real gravy train the MEP's make our MP's look like amateurs when it comes to X's. I wouldn't trust them with lawn mowing let alone law making.

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  • Neathboy234  |  April 10 2014, 11:23AM

    Westminster can learn a lot from our European cousins, yet still there are those among us who would like to entrust all our lawmaking to these people.

    |   -6
  • boggis  |  April 10 2014, 10:59AM

    Where the arrogance displays itself is that if Miller had coughed up at the first instance the cost to her would be far less than the loss of wages for no longer being in the Cabinet. Perhaps she should be locked in one. Neathguard, when you mention Croydon are you referring to Geraint Davies.

    |   -3