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Archive for May, 2009

News and updates to law reports, profession and blogs is up on Insite Law

Is there a danger that democracy is being undermined?

Over the past week or so, The Telegraph has drip fed revelation after revelation about MP expense excesses; whipping up a frenzy of public ridicule and even a degree of hatred for those who have most abused the system. Bloggers, including myself, have had a bit of sport and that is fair enough – but there are dangers that democracy is being undermined by this fiasco and, certainly, the pressure on the PM, ministers and members of parliament, is such that one wonders whether the business of actually running the country, running the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan et al, is suffering.

Guido Fawkes has suggested that people can punish MPs in the forthcoming elections by voting for fringe parties; suggesting the Green Party, Libertas and UKIP as possible alternatives. I do not know if he is being serious, or care that much. I’m certainly not going to vote for these parties simply because I am not persuaded by their ability to run the country any better than the present crew. For my part, the leaders of the three principal parties have to sort the mess out and put their houses and the House in order.

Last night I talked to Tom Harris MP, the Labour MP for Glasgow South, who gave direct and thoughtful answers to my questions about the expenses issue, The Speaker’s position, whether we will get an early general election – as David Cameron has called for and the ‘public’ (whoever they are) have called for. The podcast is 20 minutes long and if you have the time and inclination it is worth listening to.

One thing is certain – and MPs are falling over themselves to apologise and agree – change must come; but we must have in place a system of sensible, realistic and adequate remuneration and reimbursement for expenses wholly, necessarily and exclusively related to the important work MPs do if we are to have a viable Government and Opposition made up of men and women with the intellect, the experience and the spirit to run the country on our behalf.

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner has stated that he is prepared to investigate cases of wrongdoing and it may be, in time, that those who have broken the rules with outright fraud, as opposed to a misinterpretation of what appears to have been a rulebook based on what Tom Harris calls a ‘culture of entitlement’, will be held to account.

We shall see. Do listen to the podcast with Tom Harris MP (Below), whatever your political persuasion, if you have the time – he makes some good and measured points

Editor pick of the day
19th May 2009

Head of Legal: The Speaker – wholly inadequate

Geeklawyer: Geeklawyer speaks: The Speaker must go
“… it looks as though an ex-SAS hero may have been crucial as an intermediary in spilling the beans on the expenses horror.”

Editor
Mike SP
Email

On this day… 19th May

1536 Anne Boleyn , the second wife of Henry VIII of England , is beheaded for adultery , treason , and incest .

1649 – An Act declaring England a Commonwealth is passed by the Long Parliament . England would be a republic for the next eleven years

1568 – Queen Elizabeth I of England has Mary Queen of Scots arrested.

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Lawcast 136: Tom Harris MP

Lawcast 136: Tom Harris MP

Today I am talking to Tom Harris MP, the Labour member for Glasgow South, an enthusiastic user of twitter and author of his own very active blog AND ANOTHER THING. Tom has also taken to podcasting himself in recent weeks with Jamie Read MP under the title Two men and a Pod – and most enjoyable they are too.

It is impossible for me to interview a well known MP and not mention the elephant in the room – the subject of MP expenses, the title of a podcast done by Tom and Jamie Read towards the tail end of last week. As far as I know, Tom Harris doesn’t have a moat and if he did, it is unlikely he would have claimed for it.

Content: MP Expenses – the way forward | The position of The Speaker in the present crisis |Do we need an election now and who is going to win? | Blogging, Twitter and Dr Who.

Listen to the podcast

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Podcast version for iTunes

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18th May: News up on Insite Law

18th May: News up on Insite Law – a large update

Editor pick of the day
18th May 2009

Guido Fawkes: Rich and Mark’s Monday morning view

Human Rights Act will hamper soldiers in action, warns MoD
Independent: Split-second decisions could be compromised by a ruling on the risks faced by frontline troops

Rise in use of drug tests to sack staff without redundancy pay
Guardian: Employers are increasingly using drug testing to get rid of staff without having to make redundancy payouts, as a way of ­cutting costs during the recession

Editor
Mike SP
Email

On this day… 18th May

1803 Napoleonic Wars : The United Kingdom revokes the Treaty of Amiens and declares war on France.

1804 Napoleon Bonaparte is proclaimed Emperor of the French by the French Senate .

1990 – In France, a modified TGV train achieves a new rail world speed record of 515.3km/h .

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Forgive the truly appalling pun – but I have just had a glass of Rioja with a breakfast of bacon, egg, beans, brown toast (naturally)..  It is my official birthday today and I intend to have a mildly surreal day. Laters… I am orf to do some Smokedo on the rowing mnachine and then.. who knows…

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In a week when journalists and bloggers needed medical attention for super-hyperventilation – and a week when my own brother had to make a personal statement in the Commons for his excesses, it is only fitting that my cousin Cardinal Charoni di Tempranillo should fly to London from The Vatican, on expenses, naturally,  to exorcise the evil spirits  possessing the very minds and souls of many of our MPs.

I have just been on the telephone to NHS Direct and they have advised me to lay off the expenses issue for 24 hours.If you are so inclined toscroll down to read at your leisure the past blog posts.

It is the eve of another milestone in my increasingly surreal life. Tomorrow I am 56.  One would have thought, at this age, that I would be better served preparing my soul for the eventual journey across the River Styx and not fritter it away on twitter or by blogging nonsense. However…. having reached this age without a visit from my mate The Reaper, a matter of professional courtesy, I have decided that I shall devote the rest of my life to a mix of vaguely sensible comment which, to use the language of Parliament, I shall do in another place, and step up my efforts to parody the events of our times as best I can on here.

The wine reviewing is coming on a treat.  I have consumed nine bottles for review, carefully noting down the details of my thoughts on each wine before I got pissed (Not for me the barbaric habit of spitting wine out) and I shall soon publish my first column on LawandMore and on here.  I was exercising what is left of my  mind last night about a title for my column.  Legless in Gaza, a pun on Eyeless in Gaza and not some tasteless gag, didn’t seem to work so I invited ideas from fellow twitterers. Quick as a flash @Scottgreenfield, who happened to be on twitter at the time looking for law firm marketers,  made some comment about reviewing and used the phrase ‘Noble Rot’. This appealed.  A lot of other people have used the term but.. what the hell.  I like ‘Noble Rot’ , or pourriture noble , as we say in West London.   I shall give you a sneak preview of the artwork I am currently working on to accompany the column.  Ti’s but at the idea stage – I will use a different, less conventional, image.

I make it clear, as I have done to the PR companies who send me all this wine for review, that while I am an oenophile, I would not use that word to describe myself.. I am not a master of wine. I am a master drinker of wine as many are, I suspect, who read this blog.  I drink a lot of  it and while frequency does not always bring wisdom,  at least I can have a laugh doing reviews and give my thoughts on the wines I am drinking. I also thought that Noble Rot is rather a good term for a lot of the nonsense I serve up on here… you may well agree with the ‘rot’ aspect.

SMOKEDO: The search for his body continues…

I am pleased to report that I am now in my fifth week of Smokedo: Smoke yourself fit with Charon. As my mantra is ‘nothing in moderation’, I have  become obsessed with this latest craze of mine.  I have a rowing machine.  I have 20kg dumbells.  I am getting a bicycle.  I even visited a sports shop and started eyeing up lycra figure hugging tops.  It was then that I realised that I may be losing the plot.  I have, however, trimmed down – ironically putting on weight, because muscle is heavier than flab. Another bizarre side effect is –  I cannot, now, have a cigarette anywhere without suddenly doing press-ups or squats.  I even thought about taking a 5Kg dumbell with me in my Drizabone coat pocket,   should I have to go away from my lair.  I am still reserving the right to do this should I be minded so to do.  I am thoroughly enjoying it – the endorphins are fantastic.. and free!

I would like to stress that I am not going for the peanut sized head on huge shoulders and Conan look.  Just to be trimmer and a bit fitter. But… you never know….

Well.. t’is a Saturday night… I’m almost certain the bottle I have just opened gasped with pleasure as I drew the cork… and I am going to drink it.. a piu tarde.

Best as always

Charon

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Lawcast 135: Venkat Balasubramani, a US lawyer on Spam, social media and privacy issues.

Today I am talking to Venkat Balasubramani, a US lawyers who specialises in the internt sector, IT and Intellectual Property law. He is an enthusiastic social user of Twitter and writes the Spamnotes blog

Listen to the podcast

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Podcast version for iTunes

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Mr Speaker: Order, Order…   Mr Charon

Mr Charon: With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to express my regret for passing into the Division Lobby on Wednesday  after the order had been given for the doors to be locked. Although I was in my room, I did not hear the first warning signals. I offer my sincere apologies both to you, Sir, and to the House.

Major James Disaster-Smythe: May I ask, Mr. Speaker, whether you could consider asking the Chancellor of  The Exchequer to have a lever fitted on the double doors, so that they both shut together?

Mr Speaker: That is a question which I suggest that the hon. and gallant Member should put on the Order Paper to the Chancellor.  Mr Charon, a personal statement to the House.

Mr Charon: With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to express my regret for an oversight on my part in having completely forgotten that I did not marry the honourable member for  Chiswick-upon- Thames in 2003 or, indeed, at all.

It would appear, through sloppy accounting on my part, on the advice of the Fees Office, and after careful perusal of The Green Book –  that I claimed a second home allowance and then flipped that house to another one and as my then wife –  who I thought was my wife – was away,  I filled in the claims for her, arranging for the expenses to be paid into my account in The States of Jersey. I regret, also, Mr Speaker that I had completely forgotten about this account until my attention was drawn to it yesterday by a member of the fourth estate who caught me in the street as I was on my way to Spearmint Rhino, my club.

Turning to the matter of my polo ponies, Mr Speaker.  It would appear, through sheer and unadulterated incompetence on the part of my diary secretary, who by sheer coincidence, as correctly reported in the press,  is also a lapdancer at Spearmint Rhino;  invoices for stabling of my eight polo ponies got bundled into the folder for my Commons expenses and these were forwarded to the Fees Office and paid without demur.  I would like to assure the House that I shall be repaying these expenses when  consultancy fees from the leading law firm I introduced to Lord CashnCarry are paid.  Lord CashnCarry, I understand, is rather pre-occupied with an investigation in another place at present, but he assures me that the money should be with me within the next few days.

Members will have seen, reported in the press today, that my expenses claim includes an item for videos of an educational nature and a massage table

Mr Speaker: Order…. ORDER…Members will please observe the tradition of silence for personal statements.  Please continue Mr Charon

Mr Charon: With your permission Mr Speaker… I fully accept that I purchased the Cindy gets her Tits Out video series in the mistaken belief that they were part of a series produced by BBC 2 on Rare Birds of Britain.  Members of the House will know that I am a keen bird watcher. I did not have time to watch these videos but accept, now, that the content is of an adult nature and wholly inappropriate for a claim for expenses by an honourable membrum virilis of this House. I shall be reimbursing the Fees Office with the £10 cost of these videos.

Finally, Mr Speaker, in relation to the massage table. I have a bad back, a result of bird watching activities in my youth.  I purchased this massage table from a junior minister at the Ministry of Justice, at a knockdown price.  He was very keen to sell it, and, given the nature of our constituency work, which entails a great deal of standing about listening to constituents droning on about fatcattery in public life, I felt that it was a purchase wholly, necessarily and exclusively related to my work as a Member of this House

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Big update to Insite Law –  law news, blogs, and more on the expenses including a rather greedy Justice Minister!

Jobs for the ‘boys’ or a cause of genuine concern?

“The Bar Council has set up a working group to tackle what it calls unfair competition from solicitor-advocates for Crown Court work.

In a paper sent to criminal barristers, Desmond Browne QC (pictured), Bar Council chairman, outlines what the body is doing about what he calls ‘the threat to the referral bar by the ever-increasing amount of advocacy’ performed by solicitor higher-court advocates (HCAs). The move follows controversy over Judge Gledhill’s criticism of some solicitor HCAs’ performance (see [2009] Gazette , 23 April, 1).”

Law Society Gazette

The article is interesting because the Bar is clearly under pressure. Desmond Browne QC, Chairman of The Bar, uses fairly emotive language when he talks about ‘the threat to the referral bar by the ever increasing amount of advocacy performed by solicitor-advocates’. While he states that the Bar has never feared competition he argues that competition must be fair and notes that while solicitors have direct access to clients and can pay referral fees for work barristers cannot. He suggests that solicitors amend their client care letters to contain a statement of entitlement to a barrister. Paul Marsh, President of The Law Society, not surprisingly remarks rather tartly “Solicitor-advocates provide a high calibre of service to clients. The issues that concern the bar are a product of their own rules and the bar could amend these if it wished. The answer is not to amend the client care letter.”

Frankly, the issue is simply one of ability and quality. Can solicitor-advocates do the work to the standard required or not? If Judge Gledhill’s remarks about the incompetence of solicitor-advocates are reflected across the country, then, clearly, there is a problem and this needs to be addressed. If they can do the work to the required standard then The Bar, I suspect, given Paul Marsh’s robust view, will have to come up with a different strategy to compete.

Interestingly, The Law Society Gazette article notes that “Lady Janet Smith, president of the Council of the Inns of Court, wrote to presiding judges, resident judges and circuit leaders asking for evidence relating to whether work done by solicitor HCAs is ‘being done satisfactorily’.”

The results of this research – if ever published – will, surely, put the issue into focus either way?

Somewhat ironically, in the same issue of the Gazette there is the headline “Nichol rejects Law Society plan to widen QC eligibility”. It is worth a read! Titles for the boys and girls of The Bar… only?

And… finally…

Did you know that a London lawyer was the inventor of the world’s first machine gun… I didn’t until today

Have a look at “On this day 15th May” on the front page of Insite Law for the details…

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Lawcast 134  MPs’ expenses: the potential offences

This morning the Telegraph reports on an expenses claim by Elliot Morley for mortgage interest he never owed; and for the first time, this report mentions potential offences, with a quote from solicitor Steven Barker , quite rightly saying that any offence that an MP might have committed in these circumstances would be under the Fraud Act 2006 , or else under section 17 of the Theft Act 1968 .

Listen to the podcast

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Podcast version for iTunes

Carl Gardner Blogpost on MPs’ expenses in full.

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Elliot Morley claimed £16,000 for mortgage that did not exist: MPs’ expenses
Telegraph: Elliot Morley, the former Labour minister, claimed parliamentary expenses of more than £16,000 for a mortgage which had already been paid off.


MPs’ expenses row: Speaker of the Commons will be told to quit
Guardian: Michael Martin under pressure as more damaging MPs’ claims emerge

There is some law news and some new law reports… all on Insite Law. Update to the blogs section will follow later in the day.

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The hills are alive…

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So… what’s on the menu today…?

They are not all excessive claims

The Telegraph has set up a Booth of Shame to allow MPs to do a two minute video to explain their expense claims.  Full marks to Conswervative MP for Monmouth David Davies MP for explaining his position.  Good effort. Worth watching to get a balanced view of this business.

Meanwhile…. David Cameron, who wrote to me personally again last night, is making it very clear that there are to be no more shenanigans, no more ‘flipping’ second homes, and no more expenses for household goods, furniture, food and, presumably, moats. He added that a Scrutiny Panel will be set up and anyone who does not co-operate with the panel (I assume – who does not pay their excessive expenses back) will be cast into the wilderness and have to loll about as an Independent MP.

THE PRIVY COUNCIL

The Times had a very interesting piece today  entitled Does anyone understand what the Privy Council does?

I confess –  from information drilled into me all those years ago attending Constitutional Law lectures given by one of the world’s great narcolepsy experts –  I did have a vague idea what the PC does.  The article is well worth a read because it reveals a rather shadowy organ of state.  The Times noted  “The Council is a body of advisers to the Queen dating back to feudal times when the monarch ruled by divine right. Yet the Privy Council and its court are far from a relic of history…….More important, though, Privy Counsellors can make orders that bypass Parliament, while still having the same force as democratically passed laws. And their laws don’t have even have to carry a statement that they comply with the European Convention on Human Rights.”

Serendipitously, John Flood, a Prof at Westminster,  commented on one of my posts today. It is worth digging out…

Did anyone listen to the R4 programme on the Privy Council last night? I wanted to puke when I listened to Jack Straw justify the decisions the Privy Council took to overturn the High Court’s decision to allow the Chagos Islanders to return to their home. Expediency pure and simple; no public scrutiny of decisions. I think we have now reached the point when many of our public institutions need overhauling. Government must be scrutinized and openly. This perhaps is what Fry was missing. We are now observing a very close examination of events that government has done its damndest to obscure and prevent. If we can’t bring this out into the open, then it’s unlikely we could properly examine the causes of illegitimate wars.

John Flood also has his own excellent blog and enjoys a bit of stand up comedy. He’s rather good at it – see video.

I’ll be back later… much to investigate.  Early next week I shall be doing a podcast with a leading and well regarded Labour MP.  I am looking forward to it.

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It’s a moat point…

OK… OK… I’ll stop all these expenses based Charon after a glass pics soon… but I just could not resist this… or the appalling pun in the title. My friend @Sobk13 on twitter with whom I play Scrabble online  will groan and threaten excommunication with this latest one.

It has been a day for bizarre interviews. First we had Stephen Fry telling us that the  expenses fiddling didn’t matter (below), then we had Lord Foulkes, the Eversheds consultant, asking the BBC news presenter how much she earned and revealing that he couldn’t count when he discovered that she earned £92,000 and gasped  that ” she was being paid nearly twice as much an MP – to come on and talk nonsense”. MPs earn a basic £62k.  I was rather surprised that Lord Foulkes could not count because he was certainly able to do so when the Times reported in January that he was being paid to “effect introductions” for one of the largest law firms in the world (Eversheds)

And finally, my favourite expense claim interview: About Douglas Hogg  apparently claiming expenses to dredge his moat. Douglas Hogg stridently denied this as he strode down the street followed by a BBC reporter who was almost running to keep up.  Wonderfully surreal.  The film interview is cut with footage of Douglas Hogg’s moat; the camera operator lovingly panning in from the helicopter above Hogg’s estate, lingering on the moat,  as Hogg explained his position – agreed, of course, by  The Commons Fees Office.

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A fan… for the use of…

The journalists are hyperventilating, the bloggers are almost beside themselves, like kids in a sweetshop, not knowing which particular trough to look into first and Mr Fry is asked to speak to the nation by the BBC to give his view. I half expected David Dimbleby to do the voice over and say in a very dignified way… “We go over now to hear Mr Fry’s statement to the nation.”

Mr Fry is an excellent actor, writer and  QI host.  He is usually interesting on twitter,  but I am baffled as to why the BBC decided to interview him about the MP expenses.  It may have been something to do with him promoting some new political voting website.  I seem to recall seeing something of that nature on twitter last night.  Mind you, I was over refreshed and I see many things on twitter to amuse and spur the surreal.

Fry expressed the view that the excessive claiming by MPs is not as important as other issues – the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example,  and to that extent I agree with him.  Stephen Fry told us that it was hypocrisy in the extreme for journalists (noted expenses fiddlers) to take such pleasure in the misfortune of our political masters and he even admitted to fiddling expenses himself.  He suggested that I/we did as well when he turned to camera and spoke directly to me and other viewers of the film.  See for yourself.  Here is the video.

I’m not sure I agree with him that the expenses issue is not important.  It is important. Members of Parliament are elected to represent their constituency, form a government to run our country or act as The Opposition.  They are called honourable members for a reason – for they are trusted to act in the interests of the country and are trusted to take on the burdens of office and opposition.

Guido Fawkes, in a rather good piece entitled “Sorry” isn’t good enough points out that Members must abide by The Green Book – A guide to Members Allowances. He notes…“The rules are very clear, in signing for allowances, “the MP’s signature verifies that the expenditure was wholly, exclusively and necessarily  incurred in the performance of their duties”.

The “My expenses are all within the rules” mantra being churned out ad nauseam is not credible when read against the fact that MPs are on their honour to verify that the expenditure was wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred in the performance of their duties. It is only in recent years that MPs have had to put in detailed expense claims and be subject to some measure of control by those they employ. The Commons Fees Office is not, I understand, a wholly independent organisation and there has been coverage about the fact that MPs have put pressure on Commons Fees Office staff – something they would not be able to do if audit was truly independent and backed up by law.

The whole thing is a shambles, a mess – but we can be proud of one thing… Britain leads the world again… we must be right up there with the nest featherers of other nations – and we laugh about third world nations and their tin pot dictatorships and corrupt politicians. Ironic, is it not? Maybe Guido is right in suggesting that where expenses claimed were not wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred in the performance of their duties the money should be repaid.

Interestingly, the rubric ‘wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred’ is similar to the wording in tax legislation for expense claims.  Perhaps HMRC should look into the affairs of MPs more closely to determine whether these items were properly disclosed or should be treated as benefits in kind?

Hang on… the taxman is investigating… they got there before us – they usually do.

Finally… the fan pictured at the top of the post. It is portable and could be a good acquisition for any MP worrying about what his or her constituents will feel and particularly useful for the MP who claimed for manure for his garden when it is flung back at him.   I understand that portable fans are available at John Lewis – and they do provide receipts.

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12th May: Insite Law… daily…

Insite Law is developing – this is a typical front page daily… and there is a lot more….

The extract below is just the front page editorial section, done each weekday and usually up by 8.30 – 9.00.  There is news, profession updates, law reports and news of what the UK and other bloggers are up to.

Have a look, if you haven’t before or don’t go there that often – it may be useful… it may not. The detailed sections of the mag are on the right hand side panel.

Lawyers’ baked-bean protest over government plans for ‘Tesco Law’
Times: The first signs of a fight-back against reforms that will enable supermarkets and other stores to offer customers legal services came yesterday with a “baked beans” protest by solicitors.

MPs’ expenses: Paying bills for Tory grandees
Telegraph:
Senior Conservatives have subsidised their country estates at the taxpayers’ expense, the Telegraph can reveal.

MPs’ expenses: Cameron considers removing whip as Brown says sorry
Guardian


Speaker faces no-confidence threat after he turns on MPs

Guardian: Parties round on Martin for defending ‘vested interests’ as he accuses Commons critics of courting headlines on expenses

More law news….12th May…

Comment…

The extraordinary revelations, drip fed each day by The Telegraph on MP expenses, have thrown up some extraordinary claims from politicians on both sides of the house and Gordon Brown, David Cameron and others have been rushing to newspapers and television and radio studios to apologise. The Speaker, Michael Martin, by contrast, revealing yet again his unsuitability for one of the great offices of Parliament, took a different approach and called the Police in not, I hasten to add, to investigate the troughing MPs but to find out who had the temerity to leak the information which MPs tried so hard to suppress. MPs, I suspect, would have preferred the expenses to be revealed quickly and after the June elections – preferably, perhaps, in late July when the summer holidays are  under way. The Telegraph has ruined this plan.

Polly Toynbee writing in The Guardian seems to have unilaterally terminated her on-off support for Gordon Brown and says that he must go. It seems that Gordon Brown is no longer a credible leader of the Labour Party, let alone a credible prime minister. i suspect that a lot of people agree with Toynbee. The revelations on expenses, however, have not been perhaps as damaging to Labour as the Tories – the stark contrast in the lifestyles of Labour MPs and Tory made all the more clear by the nature of some of the claims.

It is amusing to hear that an MP has claimed expenses to dredge his moat – a fact apparently denied – but it does point to a need, perhaps, to provide expenses to those who need it to ensure parity of opportunity rather than for expenses to be seen as a bonus on top of salary. By this I mean – expenses  to compensate for travel and  the costs of accommodation when the house is sitting – a  standard expense rate  for MPs who live away from London.  It is not realistic, as some have suggested, that as no-one forces MPs to go into politics, prospective candidates should check that they can afford to do so. We need men and women with experience, who are prepared to work in the interests of governing the country and we must attract across a wide political and social spectrum. I would go further – and this would possibly not be of interest to some MPs or prospective MPs, that they should devote their time, fully, to parliament while they are Members of Parliament and not engage in outside work or take on other jobs.

This latter idea, put forward by many, is unlikely to gain favour –  but the time has come to look closely at salaries and expenses and ensure that adequate provision is made to ensure that MPs enjoy a reasonable rate for the job and that expenses incurred as a result of their being members are re-imbursed. For a rather more blunt and prosaic assessment – I commend Geeklawyer’s analysis which is not for the faint hearted: The beginning of the end? or Gordon’s Big End?


Editor pick of the day
12th May 2009

Guido Fawkes: +++ Hogg Claimed for Moat Dredging +++

PoliticalBetting: Are the Tories coming out worst from the expenses row?

Editor
Mike SP
Email

On this day…

1999 David Steel becomes the first Presiding Officer (speaker) of the modern Scottish Parliament

1926 UK General Strike 1926 : in the United Kingdom , a nine-day general strike by trade unions ends.

More Editorial….12th May …


12th May 2009

Charon QC: Peccable political palaver puts PM under pressure….


Capitalists@Work: The Apology Bandwagon
Bill Quango MP writes…

In light of the recent outcry surrounding the Telegraph’s unwarranted publication of MP’s expense claims, I have been asked by my parliamentary colleagues to join the Prime Minister and the Shadow Prime Minister, and the other fellow in apologising for the recent scandal..

We are very sorry. Very sorry that the gravy train has temporarily hit the buffers. More…

Family Lore: A sign of the times

Bearwatch: Chinese Yuan now challenging US dollar as trading currency.

Geeklawyer: The beginning of the end? or Gordon’s Big End?
You’ve got to sympathise with Gordon Brown’s predicament. No, really, you’ve got to: it’s in Section 213 of the Coroners Bill 2009. Five years in the slammer if you don’t. The joke is, in political circles – as Geeklawyer understands it, that Tony ‘Phony’ Blair was coated in Teflon: he could have been caught on HD video opening the Zyklon-B tins at Auschwitz and yet still emerge from the Nuremberg Trials with an apology from the Allies and £500,000 in damages. Poor Autistic Gordon, by poigniant contrast, could discover a cure for cancer, cause the Lord Jesus to return for the Second Tour and yet still be compared to Pol Pot’s evil half-brother. More…

Blawg Review #211
President Barack Obama has completed his first 100 days in office, and while we passed that marker a week or so ago, now it’s time for a Blawg Review roundup and analysis of all that has happened in, or grown out of, that time (as blogged about in the past week, of course). More…

Lords of The Blog: The Annunciator
Baroness Murphy – Today my annunciator i.e. my office  TV screen reporting events in parliament, suddenly went blank. I was in my office in Millbank trying to make sure I didn’t miss the Lord Speaker’s Procession before question time in order to give myself plenty of time to get in for Lord Cobbold’s question on drugs, tabled third.  I frantically pushed all the buttons on the remote but had to abandon it until a few minutes ago when an attendant showed me how I had inadvertently switched it off. More…

Employment Law Blog: The Equalty Bill | Corporate Law and Governance: UK: Takeover Code – extending the disclosure regime consultation | EU Law Blog: Commission Report on Monitoring of Compliance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights | PSL Blog: Protecting privacy – why bother? | Nearly Legal – a housing law specialist blog: The Equality Bill

New Walk Chambers blog: Are horse owners strictly liable for personal injuries caused by their horses?

IPKat: Keywords to go even more global
The Times Online reports today the announcement by internet search engine Google that it will extend to 194 countries the scheme which lets businesses use their rivals’ trade marks for online advertising. Accordingly, from Thursday 4 June Google will no longer consider requests from brand owners to take down “sponsored links” that use their trade marks to sell rival or even counterfeit goods. On this basis, the best they can hope to do is to buy back the right to use their own trade marks at a higher price than their competitors are prepared to pay.

Bar of Bust: And the award for the most ridiculous OLPAS question goes to…..
“How do you hope to contribute to your future chambers?”

Cearta.ie: Why protect free speech?

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Polly Toynbee has delivered her judgment: I have no idea whether it will be her final pronouncement on the matter because she does have a tendency to reflect on matters over the course of a parliament, or even a day,  and… maybe it is me… but I do enjoy her changes of mind on matters political.   I fear, however, that the Affaire politique de Brown is over… and this is her final pronouncement.

I have, it has to be said, been drinking English white wine – sharp, astringent, fruity, 11.5 % (did not do the business for me) – and this may have clouded my otherwise peccable political nose.  Peccable is, of course a word. Sir Walter Scott told me – and he knew a thing or two.

Adj. 1. peccable – liable to sin; “a frail and peccable mortal”- Sir Walter Scott

11.30 pm: You have to laugh… Guido Fawkes latest post tonight…

+++ Hogg Claimed for Moat Dredging +++

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What every schoolboy knows…

I happened to use the phrase ‘what every schoolboy knows’ the other day when referring to a US Supreme Court decision defining the tomato as a vegetable when, it is, in fact, a fruit!

I received this wonderful piece from Leslie Katz this morning. It is a good read.  This is partly what the internet is about!

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The revelations continue with news that while David Cameron, Osborne and Hague appear to have been reasonable and sane with their expenses, others have not.  Cheryl Gillan, Tory MP  and Shadow Welsh Secretary was forced to apologise after admitting she had put through dog food on expenses.  Mind you, I suspect that her dog may well be more useful for political work than the progeny of some MPs who employ their sons who do little or nothing in return for the public largesse given to them.

ITN reports:

“Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley apparently renovated a Tudor thatched cottage using taxpayer’s cash shortly before selling it. Oliver Letwin, chairman of the Conservatives’ policy team, apparently received more than £2,000 to replace a leaking pipe under a tennis court. Meanwhile, shadow Leader of the House Alan Duncan is facing questions for reportedly running up a £4,000 bill on gardening, before being warned by officials that the spending “could be considered excessive”.

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11th May: News up on Insite Law

Full update to news, blogs, law reports, profession

Editor pick of the day
11th May 2009

MPs’ expenses and the great national sneer
LabourList.org

” The Daily Telegraph has undeniably pulled off a great coup in getting hold of the details of MPs’ expenses claims and publishing them. It’s doing it in dribs and drabs, starting yesterday, thus pre-empting the official plan to publish them all together in July, after the elections in June to the European parliament and the county councils.” More…

The Slackoisie Fight Back
Scott Greenfield of Simple Justice… ” Adrian Dayton, blawger and tweeter , is a great young man.  Happy, smiling, smart and engaging.  It was great to meet him on the way out of the Gen-Y Panel discussion at SuperConference. But poor Adrian, one of the small vocal group of millenials at the conference trying to defend their honor against the rash of senior lawyers (with one curious exception), suffers from the same disease that infects the Slackoisie: the inability to see life in terms of anything other than “me”.

Editor
Mike SP
Email

On this day…

1812 Prime Minister Spencer Perceval is assassinated by John Bellingham in the lobby of the House of Commons , London

1820 – Launch of HMS Beagle , the ship that took young Charles Darwin on his scientific voyage.

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