Just a Quickie today. Now where have I heard that before?

What news was there on 11th July that stopped me seeing this?

IPSA released it’s recommendations for MPs’ Pay and Pensions

Briefly, these are the recommendations that up for consultation,

  • a salary of £74,000 in 2015, indexed to average earnings in the whole economy thereafter;
  • a new pension on a par with those in other parts of the public service, saving the taxpayer millions; (Have they not just had a Pension Reform very recently via Maude Francis?) With the Taxpayer paying 60% of the Career Average Pension;
  • scrapping out-of-touch “resettlement payments” worth tens of thousands of pound per MP and introducing more modest, modern redundancy packages, available only to those who contest their seat and lose; and
  • a tighter regime of business costs and expenses – ending the provision for things such as evening meals.
Additionally, IPSA proposes that MPs produce an annual report on their activities and achievements.  You mean they’re not obliged to already?  What on earth do they do then?
Sir Ian said the package was fair to taxpayers and fair to MPs
Main benefits of the proposed Pension Scheme are;
  • Defined benefit scheme, based on career average revalued earnings (CARE).
  • Based on a total cost of 22.9% of payroll (in comparison to 32.4% now).
  • Retirement age to be the same as State Pension Age or 65, whichever is the higher.
  • Accrual rate of1/51st of pensionable salary each year.
  • Revaluation rate equal to the increase in the Consumer Prices Index.
  • MPs pay 40% of the cost of the scheme; the taxpayer 60%, with a ceiling and floor
  • arrangement to ensure stability in contribution rates and to protect the taxpayer
  • from significant increases in cost.
  • Death in service and survivor pension benefits reducedto the same level as the Ministers’ scheme.
  • Transitional protection for MPs within 10 years of retirement age on 1 April 2013.
  • Some protection available to MPs between 10 and 13.5 years from retirement.

Fair to Taxpayers?  Some of it might be, but I got bloody apoplectic when I read the bit about redundancy packages.  When did Elected representatives become Employees?  Seems to me they want the best of both worlds, but why should that surprise me?

Over to you my reader, what do you think?


MPs Expenses – 2 Versions

I don’t know about you but I’ve absolutely had enough of the sleaze and expenses furore from all parties in our illustrious government, Lords and Commoners alike.

I’m also quite (well extremely actually) fed up with the constant bashing that our public services (and the Police in particular) are taking at the hands of our politicians.

With naughtiness and mischief in mind I let loose an #FOI request to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority asking the following questions;

  • Since 2008 what is the TOTAL number of MPs who have been investigated for mis-claiming Parliamentary Expenses?
  • What is the TOTAL number that have been prosecuted?
  • What is the TOTAL number of MPs who have been asked to pay back expenses previously  claimed but not prosecuted?

Quite simple one would think.  Oh no.

The reply that I got back was this;

IPSA does not hold the information that you request.IPSA began operations on 7 May 2010 and does not hold information relating to claims made or processed prior to that date.
Prior to 7 May 2010, the administration of business costs and expenses was the responsibility of the Department of Resources at the House of Commons. For information relating to claims made prior to 7 May 2010, you may wish to contact the House of Commons FOI team at the following email address:FOICommons@parliament.uk
Investigations that relate to business costs and expenses claimed for since May 2010 via IPSA’s Scheme are the responsibility of the Compliance Officer for IPSA, an office independent of IPSA and, for the purposes of the FOIA, a separate public authority. Details of the outcome of all investigations undertaken by the Compliance
Officer,including details of any repayments requested in relation to expenses previously claimed,are published on the Compliance Officer’s website and may be viewed via this link: http://www.parliamentarycompliance.org.uk
We understand that no investigations conducted by the Compliance Officer for IPSA have resulted in prosecution.Investigations that relate to claims made prior to May 2010 via the House of Commons
Department of Resources are the responsibility of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. For more information, you may wish to visit the Commissioner’s website via the following link:http://www.parliament.uk/pcs

So,apparently they don’t hold any archive material from before May 2010.

Well I bimbled on over to the Compliance Officer’s website as suggested, expecting to be absolutely inundated with data.

I dared to look up the investigations conducted by IPSA’s Compliance Officer.

For 2010 (post May obviously) I found NONE

For 2011 I found 21 in the 3rd Quarter of the year

For 2012 I found NONE.

In addition there are more comprehensive reports on investigations into Valerie Vaz and Nadine Dorries.

Just so that you don’t feel left out and frustrated I will reproduce one of the reports into an investigation chosen at random, you’ll like it;

Investigation summary
1.The Compliance Officer for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority carried
out an investigation into whether Ian Mearns MP was paid an amount under the MPs’ Expenses Scheme (the Scheme) that should not have been allowed.
2.The investigation was conducted in accordance with section 9(1) of the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009 (as amended by the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act2010) (PSA).
3.The investigation was initiated by the Compliance Officer, as he had reason to believe
Mr Mearns may have received funding for claims relating to a website (www.ianmearns.org.uk) that did not comply with the rules of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) as set out in the Scheme.
4. On 11 April 2011 the Compliance Officer notified Mr Mearns that he was the subject of a preliminary investigation and on 23 June 2011 the Compliance Officer opened a substantive investigation into this matter.
5. On 23 August 2011, the Compliance Officer issued a Statement of Provisional Findings. This statement provides full details of the investigation. The findings are summarised below.
6. The Compliance Officer found:
a. that, in contravention of the rules of the MPs’ Expenses Scheme, Mr Mearns received reimbursement for claims
he submitted for costs relating to his website at a time when the website contained a party political logo;
b. that Mr Mearns acted swiftly to rectify the contravention;
c. that IPSA was in part at fault as its validation procedures should have prevented reimbursement being made;
d. that seeking a repayment for this contravention would be neither proportionate nor reasonable; and
e. that IPSA had strengthened its validation practices.
7. On 7 September Mr Mearns confirmed by telephone that he accepted the provisional findings.
8. No further action was required either of Mr Mearns or of IPSA and on 21 September 2011 the investigation was closed.

An excellent write-up to an investigation I’m sure you’ll agree.  Yes, the MP did something wrong and claimed money he shouldn’t have but IPSA was at fault so we won’t ask him to pay it back.

I’m not going to pretend that I’ve read every single one of the 21 reports but the 3 or 4 that I have read ALL contained this phrase “that seeking a repayment for this contravention would be neither proportionate nor reasonable

So it seems to me that IPSA’s Compliance Officer is a bit of a toothless tiger, might give you a nasty suck but that’s about all.  Nothing there to instil fear into our trusted politicians.

You can probably imagine, I was not best pleased with the lack of information being provided.

So, undeterred I asked the same questions of the Metropolitan Police.

On this occasion they were happy to supply me with some information;

At Question 1 you ask
Since 2008 what is the TOTAL number of MPs who have been investigated for
mis-claiming Parliamentary Expenses?
The MPS response is:
All MPs were subject to an initial assessment.
16 MPs were then subject to an extended assessment or investigation.

At Question 2 you ask
What is the TOTAL number that have been prosecuted?
The MPS response is:
4 MPs were prosecuted and convicted.
1 MP was prosecuted but deemed unfit to be convicted.
1 MP is the subject to an ongoing prosecution.

At first glance it seems like the MPS investigations were somewhat more thorough than those of the IPSA Compliance officer.

Bottom line is though, there was a huge scandal over Parliamentary ‘Expenses’ which has never really gone away.  IPSA’s investigations don’t really justify the name and the Met seems to have as good a job as it can with the information it was provided with. BUT these people are the Law Makers. They have no excuse for breaking the Law. They should, above all people, understand the Law.  It is NOT ACCEPTABLE for IPSA to say “It’s our fault, blame us, we’ll take no action’.

This scandal shows no signs of going away. Darwin’s Theory of Evolution holds good.  They find other ways to get away with claiming dubious expenses.  Just look at the IPSA website and see the kind of claims that are being paid every week as acceptable.  Then come back and tell me they don’t have #SNOUTSINTHETROUGH.

The Parliamentary Hypocritical Oath

We must never forget that these are the people who MAKE our laws. they have no excuses for not abiding by them. They are quite happy for Police Officers to accept the intrusions and impositions on their private lives, and therefore should be willing to accept the same intrusions and impositions on their own private lives. They should be subject to disciplinary procedures broadly similar to those in place in the Police Service and other similar public services and the Armed Forces. Their conduct should be EXEMPLARY in all aspects of their lives. Anything less is simply not acceptable and any transgressions should be matched the appropriate sanctions.

What A Cop Out

For the benefit of those of you who can’t get through the Police Oracle paywall, I thought you might be interested in the following article; [I hope they don’t mind]

“Bedfordshire Police officers were told to stop complaining about cuts to the numbers of boots on the ground in front of members of the public, it has been revealed. [The public pay for the Police via their Council Tax, do they not have a RIGHT to know the reality?]

The advice was sent in an internal e-mail after crime victims reported officers had made “ill-thought out comments”, while attending incidents, about the impact of reductions on the force’s resilience.

The email was obtained as part of a probe of how cuts to police budgets are affecting response times by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ), which handed it to PoliceOracle.com.

According to the communication, one officer said to a victim: “You need to tell your MP you’re not happy with the number of officers on the street. We can’t help it.” [Sorry,is there something wrong with this that I’m missing?]

The email was understood to have been sent to senior officers in February this year after the force’s Victim Satisfaction Group met to discuss a recent survey, in which crime victims comment on how their incident was dealt with.

“One of the issues raised was the attitude of and comments made by some officers attending crimes,” it said.

“Although not considered or reported as being rude or dismissive, the perception is that officers are preoccupied with other aspects of policing, when all the victim wants is to feel that their particular case is the main concern of the attending officer.”

“Officers who attend are making ill-thought out comments such as making reference to the number of incidents they have to attend and the lack of officer numbers.”

The email asked the recipients to ensure that officers were briefed this was inappropriate and should stop.

It continued: “This is unacceptable and is shedding us in an unprofessional light. There are other more suitable locations to freely discuss the highs and lows of our profession.

“We are all concerned with diminishing resources and external pressures, however by adjusting this behaviour we will quickly improve on this aspect of victim satisfaction.”

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary has said the force was expecting to lose around 10 per cent of its establishment – 122 officer posts – between October 2010 and May 2015.

According to TBIJ’s research, the force did not record the differences in its average response times between 2010 and 2013.

The research showed that the number of 999 calls Bedfordshire Police abandoned went from 4,343 in 2010 to 2,605 in 2011 and 3,063 in 2012.

Ray Reed, the Secretary of Bedfordshire Police Federation, said: “The feedback we are getting from officers is that they are constantly under pressure with reduced resources and ever increasing demand. We are having a re-organisation of the force in September which will hopefully address some of the issues that we currently have.”

He added the reorganisation would be informed by a survey of regular officers, PCSOs and special constables.

Supt Jim Saunders, who oversees the force control room and enquiry offices, said the force had worked to ensure it rose from the bottom of the victim satisfaction league table to 36th position, where it currently sits. He told this website the force wanted to rise to the top 10 within five years.

“We don’t wish to see our officers’ actions being perceived as anything but 100 per cent focused on victims of crime,” he said.

“The leaked comments (in the email) refer to the situation as it was in February this year and since then huge effort has been made to focus officers and ensure they give their fullest attention to victims in order to fight crime and protect the public.”

Supt Saunders said there were falls in the number of burglaries and violent crimes in the county, adding: “We are not complacent but the significant fall in crime is testimony to the great job the men and women of Bedfordshire Police are doing, day in day out, to fight crime and protect the public against a backdrop of real cuts to resources.””

Is this confirmation that ACPO (or some of their members) truly have swallowed the Government Bullshit Handbook?

Is the great British Public to be officially treated like Mushrooms (kept in the dark and fed bullshit).

My ethos has to be;

Don’t tell the public lies, don’t mislead the public, and don’t protect them from the truth.  If the truth is unsavoury, then let the author of that truth (Mrs Theresa May MP normally) deal with the fallout from it. It serves nobody’s purpose, except the politicians of course, to sugar-coat the pill.  The situation is dire, it’s going to get worse, more cuts are the way. Stop trying to convince the world that all is fine and dandy in the world of Policing (or any other public service come to think of it).

Dear Police Oracle, if you really do object to me reproducing your fine article, please let me know and I will take it down.

I’m Alright Jack

Couldn’t have put it better myself, surely we can’t all be wrong


But I’m not!

Recently we have seen the effects of cutting the NHS so far, that the staff are overwhelmed, and struggling to cope. Now, don’t get me wrong. I think the NHS has done wonders for the health of millions of people in this country, and the staff I have encountered have, on the whole, been brilliant. I speak from personal experience, so feel slightly qualified in saying that.

Anyway, the govt have cut the NHS to the bare bones, which has affected all departments. A & E waiting times, not enough beds, postponed or cancelled operations. The list goes on. But it is this list of apparent “failures” which has led to what amounts to an all out attack on the NHS by the govt. I mean,it’s all wrong isn’t it? Cut the service so that it can’t function, then criticise the hell out of it, and use…

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An Open Letter to @David_Cameron

Good afternoon Mr Cameron, you don’t know me, we have never met or spoken, but I feel like I know you.

I live in rural England, and since I came to live here from France I have been shocked by the standard of living that I find my neighbours ‘enjoying’.  I am on the committee of our local University of the Third Age, and at our committee meeting last week we had a discussion about raising our membership fees.  It was proposed to raise them from £14 per annum to £15 per annum and I could not believe the discussion that ensued because many of our 400 members may not be able to afford the extra £1 per year.

This shocked me, because I am a pensioner, I do not possess the means to increase my disposable income like some folk can, but I can easily afford an extra £1 per annum, and I naively assumed that everybody could.  Not so apparently.

About 2 weeks ago we had a visiting speaker come to our weekly meeting to talk to us about the local Food Bank.

It was not the most gripping presentation I have ever sat through but two stark facts have remained with me;

1)  The number of food vouchers processed by our local food bank since the infamous so-called Bedroom Tax came into effect has increased noticeably. Coincidence? Not for me to say, but I don’t think so.

2) The largest statistical sector receiving help from the food bank is the Employed on a low wage, NOT Benefits Claimants.  This indicates to me two things a) maybe not all Benefits Claimants are out to leech as much as they can out of the system and b) A measurable percentage of the working population are worse off than Benefits Claimants.

Clearly your grand Reforms are failing. Iain Duncan Smith should be ashamed of these facts (they are facts, they are independently verifiable) and maybe your Reforms are not as successful as you think they are.  Maybe you could get one of your Think Tanks to report on the situation.

Oh, and yes, the Food Bank do distribute food that is past its Best Before date, will you be having some for your dinner tonight?




The Truth About Food, Diets and Excercise

I’ve just started my new job as a Personal Trainer and I thought I’d share a few of my ‘learnings’ with you all.

I’ve heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life. Is this true?
Your heart is only good for so many beats and that’s it… don’t waste it on exercise. Everything wears out eventually… Speeding up your heart does not make you live longer; it’s  like saying you extend the life of your car by driving faster. You want to live longer? Take an afternoon nap.

Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?
You must grasp logistical efficiency.  What does a cow eat?  Grass, hay and corn.  And what are these?  Vegetables.  So steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. You need grain?  Eat chicken.  Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And pork chops can give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vegetable products.

Should I reduce my alcohol intake?
No, not at all. Wine is made from fruit.  Brandy is distilled wine, that means that they take the water out of the fruity bits so you get even more of the goodness that way.  Beer is also made of grain and hops . Bottoms up!

How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?

Well, if you have body and you have fat, your ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, etc.

What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?
Can’t think of single one, sorry. My philosophy is: No pain… good!

Aren’t fried foods bad for you?
YOU’RE  NOT LISTENING!  Food is fried these day in vegetable oil. In fact, they are permeated by it. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you? Part of your 5 A DAY

Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?
Definitely not!  When you exercise muscles, they get bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.

Is chocolate bad for me?
Are you crazy?!? HELLLOOOOOOO !! Cocoa beans! Another vegetable!  It’s the best feel-good food around!

Is swimming good for your figure?
If swimming is good for your figure, explain the whale to me. A whale swims all day, only eats fish or plankton, drinks water, but is still fat

Is getting in shape important for my lifestyle?
Hey! ‘Round’ IS a shape is it not

I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food, exercise and diets.