Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Karl McCartney MP objects to my View regarding use of his expences

Well I opened the Echo web site one day last week and found this:

Lincolnshire MPs hired spouses on salaries of up to £40k
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Karl McCartney MP

TWO MPs in Lincolnshire hired their spouses to run their office with salaries of up to £40,000, it has been revealed.
The Conservative MP for Lincoln, Karl McCartney, and Boston and Skegness Tory MP Mark Simmonds both paid for the services of their wives to help with the running of their Westminster or constituency offices.
The information was released by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (ISPA).
Mr McCartney paid between £35,000 and £39,999 a year for his wife Cordelia to work as his office manager, the report revealed.
He claimed £110,571 in total, including £85,455 on staffing costs and £12,916 on accommodation.
He declined to comment.
Mr Simmonds hires wife Lizbeth as his office manager with a salary of between £20,000 and £24,999 a year, claiming a total of £114,267 for staffing, accommodation and travel.
Boston and Skegness Tory MP Mark Simmonds
Hannah Daniel, spokesman for Mr Simmonds, said: "People will see the vast majority of MPs' expenses are spent on staffing costs. Mr Simmonds' staff are based in the constituency and in Westminster and all work incredibly hard delivering a first-class service to the constituents of Boston and Skegness."
The data from IPSA shows each MP's overall expenditure on staffing, accommodation, constituency office costs, including office rental costs, general administration costs and travel and subsistence costs in the financial year 2010-11.
Sleaford and North Hykeham MP Stephen Phillips claimed £58,334, including £47,795 in staffing costs and £2,366 on accommodation.
Sleaford and North Hykeham Tory MP Stephen Phillips 
Mr Phillips said: "Overall, I claimed less than 50 per cent of the amount I was entitled to. A total of £2,987 went towards the cost of my constituency office in Sleaford.
"From my general admin budget, £1,922 was paid as part of the cost of setting up my offices and buying stationery. From my staffing budget, £47,795 covered the cost of employing three staff this year. From my accommodation budget, £2,366 went towards the costs of having to live and work in two locations.
"And from my travel budget, which is unlimited, I spent £3,262 on travel to and from Parliament."
Louth and Horncastle MP Sir Peter Tapsell 
Tory MP Edward Leigh
Louth and Horncastle MP Sir Peter Tapsell claimed £130,741, while Gainsborough MP Edward Leigh claimed £88,253.
Tory MP John Hayes
South Holland and the Deepings MP John Hayes claimed £111,148, including £87,331 on staffing costs and £6,480 on accommodation.
Nick Boles MP
Grantham and Stamford MP Nick Boles claimed £106,749, including £87,092 on staffing costs and £8,342 on accommodation.

 So I responded with this:

Monday, July 25 2011, 12:21AM Lincolnshire Echo Website.

Its not a surprise. I questioned Karl during the hustings on whether he would be a full time MP or would he take paid directorships and moonlight on our time. He said he would take paid directorships on the basis of being a "rounded" MP. His predecessor was a full time MP who did not give positions to members of her family.
Karl came back with this:

So I wrote back with this:

3rd August 2011

Dear Karl,
Thank you for your reply to my email on the Coalition Governments proposed changes to DLA, Please do stop calling everything the Government proposes as “reforms”. Many of my and your constituents do not regard these measures as reforms but as “deforms”, measures which will reduce their income and leave them with less mobility and a lower quality of life. That said I am very grateful that you have forwarded our constituents concerns. I would like to return to this topic when there is a measured and speedy response from ministers.

Thank you also for your response to my few words regarding our exchange at the husting’s and on the Echo Web Site regarding your decision to pay your wife Cordelia between £35,000 and £39,999 a year to work as your office manager.  I intend no personal offence by this I ought to say nor is this intended as an attack on the Conservative Party. The issue is about appropriate behaviour at a time when the Government you support and your political colleagues on Lincolnshire County Council are:
  • Sacking people without thought for the consequences and
  • Creating through economic incompetence a situation where people must take considerably lower salaries than £39k assuming that they can find a job at all. 
The average person in the third sector doing vital work directly saving vulnerable lives could expect, as a manager responsible for 4 or 5 departments and perhaps a 100 staff and volunteers working very long hours to receive between £25k and £30k before the General election. That figure is now nearer £24k here in Lincolnshire. You must be a little insulated from the reality of your own constituents to be unaware of these simple facts. People living in your constituency often count themselves lucky to be earning £14k or over. So while I am sure Mrs McCartney does a sterling second job working for you (I understand she also runs a business) I have to question the salary level. I was a full time parliamentary agent for quite a few years so I might have some expertise here.
I think your commitment, if that is what it is, never to become a minister because it would impede your ability to hold the Government to account is quite brave and worthy of the Beast of Bolsover (Dennis Skinner MP) who it seems we both admire.  I am also fascinated by your assertion that you can only hold the Government to account if you are of the right (presumably Conservative in power) Party. I assume that if Labour returns to power in the near future you will be resigning your seat should you have survived as an MP as someone in the “wrong” not in power party. 
In terms of Gillian Merron’s position I know that she did not employ any family members because I knew all of her staff here and in Westminster Karl, so now you know, I hope that helps.  We can have a debate on Parliamentary expenses if you like but as far as I am concerned Gillian only claimed what all MP’s claimed and returned sums of £7k subsequently decided to be no longer appropriate to be claimed.  You are in fact elsewhere very critical of the new systems holding MP’s to account. Also I recall this nugget from the Lincolnshire Echo: “In December, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority also published details of MPs' expenses from May until the end of August 2010.
The documents revealed Mr McCartney has claimed £20,954 since being elected in May – the highest of any MP in the county.”
Despite your assertion that you hold the Government to account I can find only two instances of you genuinely voting against your Conservative colleagues, once about the transfer of income to spouses and again to oppose the use of the Commons by the United Kingdom Youth Parliament. I have ignored all the Europhobic voting where you more or less voted with some tiny rump of MP’s against everyone else (it was probably good fun). This makes two rebellions out of 297 votes.
So, if I understand you correctly you will
  • shortly be apologising to Gillian Merron
  • Promising Never to Be a Minister and
  • Standing down at the next election after a national Labour Victory!
Warmest Regards,


Cllr Chris Burke.
Lincoln, LN5 8DW. 01522 856296.City of Lincoln Children & Young Person’s Advocate.
Colegrave House, Colegrave Street,

Follow UP & Further Info:

Karl McC's letter to me is wrong - it's a matter of public record that the Ministerial addition to salary is approximately half of what he says in his letter.
All Ministers of all parties in all governments  - including every one of his current colleagues (from the Prime Minister downwards) - have a ministerial addition to their MPs salary because of the work, accountability and additional responsibility they are asked to undertake as a member of Her Majestys Government. Being a Govt Minister is public service, with responsibilities that the Prime Minister appoints MPs to do - it is not for personal gain, nor personally chosen. A 2nd job outside parliament is for personal gain, is personally obtained,and nothing to do with the interests of people across the country including constituents.
He does need to get over trying to hide behind Gillian - he's been the MP for some time now and has to answer for his own actions including his staff and their salary.
I have received good guidance now that the money Gillian re-paid back immediately was approximately £6,000 and the result of an over-payment. Her claims were independently audited some years ago by Sir Thomas Legg who confirmed that all was in order.

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