Roddy Graham's Blog: 21 May 2009 - Transport expenses
21 May 2009
Roddy Graham is chairman of the ICFM and commercial director of Leasedrive Velo
For the past fortnight, ever since the Daily Telegraph broke the 'Expensesgate' story, I have been fit to be tied, as has half the nation judging by comments in the media. Even one lady MP acknowledged the mood of the general public was that they wanted to see culpable MPs strung up from the nearest street lamppost! Prime Minister Gordon Brown today has stated that any Labour MP found to have abused the expenses' system would be suspended and de-selected before the next general election. Expect to see many new faces at the ballot box next time around!
I always knew the majority of MPs were full of horse***t and one seems to have taken my thinking literally. Conservative MP David Heathcoat-Amory claimed for multiple bags of horse manure compost! Indeed, the claims ranged from the bizarre - John Reid's £1.50 for an ice cube tray to Tory landowner Douglas Hogg claiming £2200 for dredging his moat. He should be dunked in it!
I could write at length about all the dishonest claims that have come to the surface (indeed I did so some 18 months ago about a lady MP who claimed over 50,000 business miles in a year - we never got a proper explanation even on that one!), and surely more will come to light over the coming weeks and months, but I thought it would be an interesting exercise to weed out all the culprits who have been responsible for our transport shambles.
Starting with that headless chicken, Geoff Hoon, the current secretary of state for transport, has been feathering his nest by building up a very nice £1.7 million property portfolio while claimed taxpayer-funded expenses for at least two. Those struggling with their mortgage payments, who have had their properties repossessed and the homeless will surely be fighting over each other to string him up!
Former secretary of state for transport Ruth Kelly has claimed in excess of £31,000 to re-decorate and furnish her designated second home over the past five years. I can see another rush to her front door!
Her immediate predecessor, Douglas Alexander himself spent thirty grand doing up his constituency home only to see it all go up in flames in a house fire. Oh, ye gods, you were watching after all!
Meanwhile, Alistair Darling, a former secretary of state for transport for four years, had his stamp duty kindly paid for by you and me.
Stephen Byers claimed over £125,000 of expenses for repairs and maintenance on a London flat owned outright by his partner, where he continues to live free!
Besides the afore-mentioned ice cube tray, John Reid, a former minister of state for transport claimed for slotted spoons, an ironing board and, wait for it, a "glittery" loo seat!
Rounding off toilet claims, John Prescott, former secretary of state for the environment, transport and the regions claimed for two loo seats in two years. Obviously, they couldn't take the weight. Maybe "Two Jags" Prescott should be renamed "Two Bog Seats" Prescott!
I sincerely do hope that the Metropolitan Police will find some grounds to prosecute some MPs for taking us all for a ride.
Investigations into MPs' claims should go back six years, not four as requested by the Prime Minister. After all, if you and I can be investigated by HMRC, going back six years into our tax affairs, they can be subjected to the same length of scrutiny. The guilty ones should be made to pay back with interest and the book thrown at them with the real transgressors facing maximum prison sentences.
Will we awake to a new dawn at the next General Election? I sincerely hope so.