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Cheers - AE

Monday, 10 May 2010

Just a little reminder.

In the unlikely event that everybody's forgotten about the expenses scandal, this morning we have a this timely reminder.
NADINE DORRIES, the Conservative MP, faces the first expenses complaint of the new parliament after a row about a £10,000 claim she paid to a friend’s company.

Her former Commons researcher, Peter Hand, is writing to John Lyon, the parliamentary commissioner for standards, questioning whether the claim can be justified.

The complaint will undermine hopes that the expenses controversy can be consigned to the last parliament.

Dorries, who last week retained her mid-Bedfordshire seat, claimed the money for an annual report in 2007 on her performance as an MP, and consultancy services, but Hand said he never saw the report or worked on it. Dorries claimed a total of more than £40,000 in expenses for services provided by Marketing Management (Midlands), owned by her friend Lynn Elson. They live near each other in the Cotswolds.

Hand, who worked full-time for Dorries in the Commons from 2005 until November 2008, said: “I gave her the benefit of the doubt and waited and waited. But the report never appeared.”

Dorries claimed £9,987.50 for Marketing Management in June 2007 for the design, layout and production of an annual report and for consultancy. She says she spent the money, and posted a copy of the report on her website. However, it does not appear to be professionally produced. The previous year, by contrast, she issued a glossy four-page professionally produced report with more than 25 pictures, news articles, an interview and a breakdown of her typical working day as an MP.
Anyone surprised? This is the woman who, by her own admission, spends little time in the house she designated as her main home and treats her Additional Cost Allowance as part of her salary, which presumably means she thinks it's there to be spent on whatever she pleases. Okay, this isn't a post election expense claim but one dating back nearly three years, but the point is that there was an opportunity for everything to come out into the open and not everything did. Well done to her local constituency party for retaining her as candidate and the voters for taking the her back, incidentally.

Anyone want to bet that she's the only one? Anyone want to bet that not a single one of the 232 new MPs is going to be quietly taken to one side, if they haven't already, and advised about how things work - especially since at least half a dozen had either a parent, sibling or spouse as an MP.* Any takers?

Thought not.

* In the cases of siblings and spouses it's worth noting that both Keith Vaz and Harriet Harperson were tainted by the expense scandal, somehow retained their seats and are now joined by Vaz's sister and Harperson's husband.
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