Friday, May 15, 2009

Quote of the Day: Mark Lazarowicz

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland this according to ePolix Mark Lazarowicz the MP for Edinburgh North and Leith said:

"Why on earth am I bothering to pay back the money? That's actually the view which has come back from a large number of people I have been in contact with.

"I do wonder to a certain extent whether, in some hysterical atmosphere in Westminster during the week, possibly I over-reacted to the situation.

"Speaking to some of the Lib Dem MPs in particular who have paid some sums of money for relatively small items, I do wonder if some of us have been as it were taken along in a situation where maybe we shouldn't.

"Having said that, I've said I'll pay it back, I will pay it back, because I actually accept at the end of the day the fundamental principle that MPs shouldn't actually benefit from property they have acquired."


Now come on Mark you're meant to have a calm head when dealing with expenses. Both in making claims and in paying overpayment claims back. Flipping on the designation of homes is one thing but flipping on the decision of waht you decided to do and so often in four paragraphs is something else. But at least you argued yourself round in enough circles there to come to the conclusion that not benefiting from property is the thing an MP should do.

4 comments:

Stuart Winton said...

So, Stephen, what's your/the Lib Dems' position on the profits Tavish Scott, Nicol Stephen, Ross Finnie and Jamie Stone stand to make on taxpayer-funded properties in Edinburgh?

Stuart Winton said...

Stephen, I read this post before reading your earlier one, thus my question about your own position isn't pertinent, and of course you did in fact echo my own question on the official Lib Dem position.

Stephen Glenn said...

No probs Stuart glad I managed to pre-emptively answer your question.

Gorbals Mick said...

GORDON BROWN
The prime minister paid his brother, Andrew, £6,577 for arranging cleaning services for his Westminster flat for 26 months. Gordon Brown also claimed twice for the same plumbing work within six months of each other.


TONY BLAIR
The former Prime Minister used his parliamentary expenses to remortgage his constituency home for £296,000 - nearly 10 times what he paid for it - just months before buying a west London house for £3.65m. The loan would have been enough to cover the cost of the deposit on the new home. He was able to claim for interest repayments on almost a third of the new mortgage on his constituency home.


FRASER KEMP
Mr Kemp, the Labour MP for Houghton and Washington East, claimed for two DVD players for his one-bedroom flat in the space of a month. He was also reimbursed for the cost of 16 bed sheets and claimed for two flat-screen televisions a year apart, it was reported. In the case of one of them, the Fees Office refused to pay the full £1,699 he asked for on the basis that the maximum claim was £750, it was suggested. The former Labour whip was also said to have bought goods including a freezer and fridge near his north-east England constituency, despite the London flat being designated his second home. He also charged the taxpayer £105.75 for an engineer to attend to his washing machine when he could not work out how to operate it, the Sunday Telegraph claimed.


DAVID CLELLAND
The Labour Tyne Bridge MP was said to have "bought out" his partner's share of a joint mortgage on a flat in London, costing the taxpayer thousands of pounds plus legal fees. The Telegraph said that after the deal, which was approved by the Commons Fees Office, the mortgage interest payments increased by £200 per month.


DAVID CHAYTOR
The Labour Bury North MP claimed nearly £13,000 for a mortgage he had already cleared. The paper says that between September 2005 and August 2006, the Labour backbencher claimed £1,175 a month in interest on his Westminster flat. However, Land Registry records show the mortgage was paid off in January 2004. The Telegraph also alleged that Mr Chaytor "flipped" the designation of his second home six times, including once to a house registered in his son's name. He reportedly blamed these actions on "changing and complex family circumstances".


ELLIOT MORLEY
The former Labour Environment Minister claimed £16,000 in mortgage interest payments on his home in his Scunthorpe constituency even though the mortgage had ended 18 months before. Although records show his mortgage had been repaid by March 2006, Mr Morley continued to be reimbursed for £800 a month in 2006-7. The Telegraph claims the anomaly was not spotted earlier as Mr Morley re-designated his London home as his second residence - a move known as "flipping" - in November 2007. It says Mr Morley had been renting out his London flat to another Labour MP, Ian Cawsey who nominated it as his second home and claimed back the £1,000 a month rent he paid to Mr Morley. This arrangement ended in March 2008 after the Commons Fees office became aware of the situation.


SHAHID MALIK
The Labour Dewsbury MP claimed £66,827 from the second home allowance - the maximum allowed - over three years towards the cost of his London flat - bought in 2001 before he was elected. According to the paper, Mr Malik's claims over the period included £2,100 for a flat screen television, £1,420 for a bathroom, £671 for a fireplace and £730 for a massage chair. It says the Fees Office rejected the TV claim - ultimately granting the MP £1,050 for a TV and £250 for a DVD system - and a further claim for an iPod. Mr Malik is also reported to have claimed for a £65 court summons for not paying council tax. While claiming the equivalent of £443 per week for his London flat, the Telegraph says Mr Malik was paying less than £100 a week to rent a property in his constituency from a local businessman. It says the rental agreement with the businessman, from whom it says the MP also rented a constituency office - began in 2004 and continued until 2008 when Mr Malik married and moved into a larger property in the town.


JACK STRAW
The Labour Justice Secretary over-claimed £1,500 on council tax on his second home. He made a claim for the full bill despite getting a 50% discount from the local authority for the property.


HAZEL BLEARS
The Labour Communities Secretary claimed for three different properties in a single year, spending almost £5,000 of taxpayers' money on furniture in three months, the Telegraph reports. She also claimed for stays at London hotels after selling her flat. In March 2004, she declared her property in her Salford constituency was her second home and spent £850 on a television and video and £651 on a mattress. In April, she switched her second home to a flat in south London, claiming £850 a month for the mortgage.

In August, she sold the flat, making a £45,000 profit, and stayed in hotels over the following two months. In December, she bought another London flat for £300,000, claiming a monthly mortgage of £1,000 and a grocery bill of £400.


GEOFF HOON
The Labour Transport Secretary reportedly switched his "second home" designation - refurbishing his family home in Derbyshire at taxpayers' expense before buying a London townhouse. In 2004/05, he claimed £20,902 for his second home - then the Derbyshire home - spending thousands on refurbishments. At the time he was defence secretary and later Commons leader and had a "grace and favour" Whitehall apartment. After losing that apartment in 2006, the newspaper says he bought a Georgian townhouse in Westminster and declared that as his second home. He went on to claim £21,995 in 2006/07 and £23,083 in 2007/8 - the maximum allowed. His monthly mortgage interest payments, picked up by the taxpayer, increased from £270 to almost £900.


ANDY BURNHAM
The Labour Culture Secretary was reportedly battling with the fees office for eight months over a £16,500 expenses claim to buy and renovate a new London flat which was eventually paid, after being rejected three times.
Andy Burnham

He also claimed a £19.99 bath robe bought from Ikea in 2007 that was not allowed.


LORD MANDELSON
The Labour Business Secretary claimed for improvements on his constituency home after he announced he was leaving Parliament to become an EU Commissioner.
Lord Mandelson

He later sold the property for a profit of £136,000.


GERALD KAUFMAN
The Veteran Labour MP claimed £1,851 for a rug imported from a New York antique centre and tried to claim more than £8,000 for a television. He entered a claim for £28,834 - more than £15,000 of which was paid - for improvements to his London home, after telling officials he was "living in a slum".


JOHN PRESCOTT
The former Labour Deputy Prime minister claimed £312 for the fitting of mock Tudor beams to the front of his constituency home in Hull and in December 2004 a plumber charged him £210.79 for pipework, taps and to "refix WC seat," according to the newspaper. In September 2006, he put a £112.52 repair bill on expenses, which included "refit WC seat".


ALISTAIR DARLING
The chancellor claimed £10,000 towards the cost of furnishing the London flat he bought in 2005. Mr Darling bought the £226,000 property near the Oval cricket ground, claiming £2,074 for furniture and £2,339 for carpets. There was also a £765 claim from Ikea and £768 from Marks and Spencer's for a bed. The £146 cost of staying in a hotel while his flat was being renovated in September 2005 was rejected by the fees office on the grounds that the property was counted as his second home.

But Mr Darling successfully argued that he was "between second homes" and the bill was later paid. He also used his expenses to cover the stamp duty of £2,260 and legal fees totalling £1,238.

It was also reported that Mr Darling "switched" the location of his second home four times in four years, allowing him to claim thousands of pounds towards the cost of both his Edinburgh home and for the London flat.


SHAUN WOODWARD
Taxpayers contributed almost £100,000 to help pay the mortgage on a £1.35m flat owned by the Labour Northern Ireland secretary, it is reported. The money went on mortgage interest payments and council tax between 2004 and 2008 for the flat. Married to a member of the Sainsbury family and worth an estimated £15m - Mr Woodward is the richest member of the cabinet, though he does not draw a full ministerial salary.



CAROLINE FLINT
The Labour Europe minister put solicitors' fees and stamp duty totalling £14,553 on her Parliamentary expenses after buying a central London flat. Before moving in to her second home in Victoria, she also claimed the £177 a month cost of putting her furniture in storage. Over a period of about eight months in 2005 to 2006, Ms Flint claimed for staying in hotels for an average of three nights a week.


DOUGLAS ALEXANDER
The Labour International Development Secretary's constituency home was damaged in a house fire in 2007 after he spent more than £30,000 on repairing it. He told the fees office he was "under-insured" and claimed almost £2,000 on items lost in the fire, which he later repaid when his insurers reimbursed him. He has yet to comment.



MARGARET BECKETT
Mrs Beckett found herself in trouble with the Fees Office after attempting to claim £600 for hanging baskets and pot plants. An official informed her in a letter that expenses had to be "wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred to enable you to stay overnight away from your main home". She claimed second home allowances of £72,537 from 2004 to 2008, despite having no mortgage or rent to pay on her constituency home in Derby. As environment secretary and foreign secretary, Mrs Beckett was living at the grace and favour Admiralty House in Whitehall, which enabled her to rent out her London flat.


DAVID MILIBAND
The Labour foreign secretary claimed almost £30,000 for doing up his £120,000 constituency home over five years, it was reported. He spent up to £180 every three months on the garden at the property in South Shields.


BARBARA FOLLETT
The Labour Tourism Minister claimed £25,411.64 for security patrols at her London home after she was mugged. She also requested £528.75 to have a Chinese needlepoint rug repaired and cleaned but that was deemed excessive by the Fees Office and she was handed back just £300.


PHIL WOOLAS
The Labour Immigration Minister had claimed for nappies and women's clothing when submitting requests for expenses. It said it was unclear how these items had been justified because parliamentary rules only allowed payouts for items which were "exclusively" for MPs' own use.


PHIL HOPE
The Labour Care Services Minister Phil Hope was said to have spent more than £37,000 over about four years on refurbishing and furnishing a two-bedroom south London flat.
Phil Hope


KEITH VAZ
The Labour Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee claimed more than £75,000 to fund a second home in Westminster, even though his family home is just 12 miles away in Stanmore. He changed his designated second home for a single year to property in his Leicester constituency, before claiming more than £4,000 on furnishings.


BEN BRADSHAW
The Labour Health Minister, switched his second home designation to a more expensive jointly-owned London property and claimed full mortgage interest payments, in order for his partner to "benefit from the system". The couple had previously split the mortgage costs, the paper said. However, it claimed that Mr Bradshaw was now submitting the entire cost of interest on the property to be paid out of expenses.


MARGARET MORAN
The Labour MP for Luton South spent £22,500 treating dry rot at the coastal property in Southampton she had designated as her second home - even though it was a two-hour drive from Parliament and 100 miles from her constituency.


KITTY USSHER
Within a year of being elected in 2005, Ms Ussher is said to have set out to the Commons authorities over two pages a list of "essential repairs" to her Victorian house in south London. It detailed how the house "was relatively cheap to purchase but requires quite a lot of work". Among the work listed was replacing "rotten" sash windows and a "grimy" stair carpet. She received the full £22,110 allowance, although her requests to replace "strange" plumbing and "bad taste" Artex were refused. The Sunday Telegraph claimed she had already lived in the house for five years.


TAM DALYELL
Former long-serving Labour MP Tam Dalyell attempted to claim £18,000 for bookcases, two months before retiring from Parliament in 2005, the Telegraph alleged. Mr Dalyell, formerly MP for Linlithgow, said he was "absolutely unrepentant" about the claim. He told the BBC he had bought the bookcases to store documents gathered during his political career and had approached the Fees Office to ask what proportion of the £18,000 he could claim back in expenses. He said the office eventually paid about £7,800.

He said he believed it was "a legitimate office expense" and would "definitely not" pay the money back.


KEVIN BRENNAN
The Labour Minister had a £450 widescreen television delivered to his family home in Wales and then claimed it on his allowance for his second home in London.

IAIN WRIGHT AND TOM WATSON
The two Labour ministers have claimed more than £100,000 for a shared London flat since May 2005. The ministers each claimed for their share of the legal costs involved in purchasing the property and then later for the fees to buy the freehold.


BARRY GARDINER
The Labour MP for Brent North made a profit of almost £200,000 from a flat mortgaged and renovated with the help of taxpayers' cash, the Telegraph has alleged.


CHRIS BRYANT
The Labour MP for Rhondda of "flipping" his second home twice in two years, allowing him to claim almost £20,000 in expenses.


STEPHEN BYERS
The former Labour Trade Secretary used the expenses system to claim more than £125,000 for the London flat owned by his partner, it is claimed. Over the past five years, Mr Byers is said to have spent more than £27,000 on redecoration, maintenance and appliances at flat in Camden, north London, and extensively renovated the outside of the entire building, which consists of four flats.


JOHN REID
The former Labour Home Secretary claimed for a £199 pouffe, a £370 armchair and an £899 sofa.He is also said to have submitted receipts for £486.50 spent at Marks and Spencer last August on items including slotted spoons, three rattan bins, oven mitts, wineglasses and ice cube trays. His expenses claim for 2007-08 also included a letter from the TV Licensing authority warning the occupier of the property "there is no valid television licence". Mr Reid is yet to respond.


MARK LAZAROWICZ
The Labour Edinburgh North and Leith MP Mark Lazarowicz claimed more than £5,000 in costs for legal and professional fees incurred in extending the lease of his London flat.
Mark Lazarowicz


ALAN AND ANN KEEN
Labour MPs Alan and Ann Keen - who are married - have claimed £137,679 between them towards a central London flat despite the fact their family home is less than ten miles away. According to the paper, the couple bought the London property in 2002 and have, between them, claimed more than £30,000 towards it in each of the past four years. The couple's main home is in Brentford. Alan Keen is MP for Feltham and Heston while Ann Keen - a junior health minister - is MP for neighbouring Brentford and Isleworth. The paper said the couple claimed for interest payments on a £520,000 mortgage for the London flat even though the actual purchase price of the property was £500,000. It also claims the Fees Office had reduced their awards in 2007 because both MPs had claimed for council tax on the London property. Among the couple's claims on the London property, the paper adds, were a £50 call-out fee for fixing the sound on a home cinema system.


HILARY ARMSTRONG
Labour's former chief whip claimed £3,100 towards the cost of treating the gables and walls of her constituency home.

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