Home > Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Main Blog - General, UK Politics > Lessons Learnt in Brent Apply to Parliament. Pay MPs Less Not More if you want to Get Rid of Corruption.

Lessons Learnt in Brent Apply to Parliament. Pay MPs Less Not More if you want to Get Rid of Corruption.

Corruption in Local Government is pretty endemic from the top to the bottom, yet it is governed by so much legislation that you would think that legislation would stop it. Quite the reverse.

The Public elect Councillors to deliver an agenda. Often that agenda happens to be whatever the reverse of the Government of the day wants. It becomes impossibly difficult to deliver that Agenda. Council Officers report what Members want to hear. They are the ones who propose to Councillors what cuts should be made and where. They are the ones who report or fail to report overspending or poorly managed services. The Councillors then take take the fall for the services under their “control”.

Even the “Cabinet” and Scrutiny method of Governance has not improved things. In fact, it has worsened things. Reports can take 3 months to get to Cabinet, by which time any action required has been taken, Councillors will deal with the consequences of those actions. A Committee Chair, used to be required to be on top of their Service. TO know what was going on. Committee Members also got to know what was happening. This is no longer the case. Officers really do run the roost. It takes a strong Councillor to get behind what is really just being reported to them and discover what is happening. With the Partisan Politics of Groups, that does not happen. Few “Scrutiny Committees” run by the Party in power really do get behind Officer reports and even they fail on a more regular basis to criticise their “administration”. Voting for Councillors really does make very little difference. I hate to say that as someone who supports democracy.

Councillors may “agree” a Council budget, but few Councillors go through and question line by line items. Especially before the budget, where such information is shrouded in secrecy.

Despite less power, Councillor “expenses” have risen to the levels of reasonable salaries. Group Leaders get expenses higher than that of Middle Management staff that they officially “employ”.

This has attracted entirely the wrong type of character to serving as a Local Councillor. These people are no longer Councillors whose interest is whether the local school does well, whether the bins are collected and whether the Council delivers Housing Benefit on time. They are interested in the next step in the greasy poll of politics. Becoming a London Authority member, a Scottish or Welsh MP, an MEP or the penultimate an MP and up the Ministerial ladder.

Brent is important to me because it is where I cut and broke my political teeth in a fight to the political death against someone I considered corrupt. I lost. By one badly cast internal vote. A Councillor who wanted to vote for me, but was too afraid to write their name, tried to vote for me by writing, “1”. My alphabetical place if there was a list of candidates. The forces of corruption won. I left politics to concentrate on love and money. (Both of those I was not so good at).

That person is still there. Propped up by the Liberal Democrats and a useless and ineffective Labour Group. The Liberal Democrat link is purely a marriage of both convenience and co-dependence. It should shame the Liberal Democrats.

That Councillor, the Party accused of being responsible for the divisions caused in almost all of the Brent and Harrow Conservative Constituency Parties and their loss in the GLA Elections, appalling results when everywhere else the Conservative Party was doing not only well – but winning in a landslide. Despite that they have failed to take any action to remove that Councillor.

Just one example of that corruption, included taking shares held by the then Conservative Group, after a Building Society Conversion, for a Personal Libel fund. Legal action was needed to at least get Group permission for doing so.

CCO failed to deal with the problem 8 years ago and are still failing now as CCHQ. The Conservative Party has done nothing. CCHQ and the old CCO, (which I once sponsored), takes the blame for what is happening in Brent.

That Councillor gets huge amounts from public expenses. Less now they lost the GLA. As the Government tackles MP Pay and Remuneration it is useful to look at this Councillor. Before he pocketed large amounts of taxpayers money, there is no one person who could ever say that he did not work on behalf of the Borough residents and his Ward residents. As the money went up, the work rate went down and the fight to retain his position in the Party got so bitter any good candidates left. Some of the good ones who left are now MPs.

Which brings me to the solution for expenses in the Commons.

Guido Fawkes will tomorrow out another MP abusing the expense system. Good. Shame them all. Even the Conservative MP’s.

Labour List, suggest that the role of an MP is “is a gruelling and demanding job: the mountain of dreary but inescapable constituency work requires you to be a social worker and legal adviser without any training or preparation for either role;”.

For 650 vacancies every four or five years, in which at most 150 ever really change hands, there are thousands of applicants. Almost all culled by Constituency members, and central “approved lists”. Money is definitely not the issue here.

The answer is not to increase the pay of MPs as Matthew Parris suggests. He suggests cutting all expenses and increasing pay by £30,000. He is wrong. Cut both pay and expenses.

Reward MPs for being the Constituency Social Worker Labourlist says is so difficult. Pay them the same pay as a Social Worker from Child Services. (I know who has the most gruelling job and it is not the MP). Cut the expenses to those exceptional expenses that a Councillor is allowed to claim for.

If the MP needs a second home in London, the House of Commons should make an arrangement with Westminster Council or a Local Housing Association to RENT that home. In recognition that these homes are for MP’s, they can be properly secured by our boys in blue. Avoiding the need for the taxpayer to shell out large chunks for the neurosis of Barbara Follett. Becoming an MP should not reward your failure as an MP to tackle hyper inflation in the Housing Market, through a large untaxed capital gain.

Special Responsibility Allowances should then be introduced for those MPs serving on specialised Committees to investigate issues of concern to the UK. Such as tackling the economy, the deficit, housing and homelessness, tax and social security. Actual working committees that come up with solutions. Elected by the whole House, to remove the purview of the Whips. So that Constituency MPs represent their Constituency again and not just the Party of Government.

Paying for results would get rid of the professional politician. It would make MPs realise that they have to work as “Social Workers” for their constituents, not voting fodder for the Government. Proper Working Committees may rid us of this litany of badly drafted knee jerk legislation that has come out of these last few Parliamentary session. It is a win win situation.

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