At the Trough

For years MP’s have concealed the true extent of their till and finger interface and nothing we can say on the general subject add much value.

So, I thought it might be interesting to look at the issue from another angle.

What about those politicians in the defence sphere, those appointed to positions in the MoD, the opposition defence representatives or members of the Defence Select Committee?

It is these people; those involved with governance and holding the Government to account that those sweating in a patrol base rightly expect to look after their interests.

Effective governance imparts confidence and confidence contributes to morale. Readers of this blog do not need to be told of the importance of morale. Without overstating the importance of having honourable politicians in the military sphere, surely one can expect the highest levels of behaviour

If not here then where?

In looking at this, I decided on a simple methodology;

  • Identify those in the defence political sphere
  • Take a few selected quotes from the media about their expenses
  • Take a relevant quotation from ‘They Work for You’ or other web sources that seem relevant, where there is nothing of note, nothing is entered.

Writing blog posts is sometimes a simple linear process, you start with an idea and see where it goes so at this point I do not know will be revealed.

Here goes.

Government Team

Secretary of State for Defence, Bob Ainsworth MP
Claimed nearly £6,000 for the redecoration of his designated second home, submitting bills that included rebuilding the fireplace and fitting oak beams into his ceiling, also tried to claim £2,225 for a sofa and £1,000 for a LCD Samsung television, both of which were reduced by the fees office.

Voted against the Ghurkha Settlement Rights Motion

They were out there in Iraq, they were out there in Afghanistan, they were doing hard yards and putting their lives on the line – and nobody back here was nearly as interested as they ought to have been.

Minister of State, Rt Hon Lord Drayson
No information

Minister of State for the Armed Forces, Bill Rammell MP
Claimed £475 a month mortgage interest in 2008 for second home located in constituency. Claimed £1,360 for replastering and installing downlights in bedroom

Absent for the Ghurkha Settlement Rights Motion

Parliamentary Under Secretary for Defence Equipment and Support, Mr Quentin Davies MP
Repaired window frames at his18th-century mansion, charging £10,000 to expenses

Voted against the Ghurkha Settlement Rights Motion

Our Armed Forces are doing an amazing job in difficult circumstances and my priority will be to do all I can to ensure they get the best possible equipment and logistic support.

Parliamentary Under Secretary for International Defence and Security, Rt Hon Baroness Taylor of Bolton
No information

Parliamentary Under Secretary for Veterans, Kevan Jones MP
Claimed £9,670 for fees and stamp duty on his £315,000 central London flat in May 2004. The flat is now believed to be worth about £350,000. Carpeting in “Berwick Sand” cost a further £1,913

Voted against the Ghurkha Settlement Rights Motion and was widely reported to be involved with the alleged smearing of General Sir Richard Dannatt.

It is vital for them to know that they have the support of their fellow citizens for the sacrifices they have made and continue to make.

Opposition Team

LibDems Shadow Defence Secretary, Nick Harvey MP
Had to be reminded twice by parliamentary officials to submit receipts with his expenses claims

Voted for the Ghurkha Settlement Rights Motion

“There is a long history of shamefully low pay for the men and women fighting on the frontline.”

Conservative Shadow Defence Secretary, Dr Liam Fox MP
Liam Fox, the shadow defence secretary, makes relatively simple claims covering the mortgage interest on his south London flat.

Voted for the Ghurkha Settlement Rights Motion

Defence Select Committee

Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP (Chairman), Conservative

Claimed from the public finances for cleaning his swimming pool at a country residence but has since agreed to repay the money

Voted for the Ghurkha Settlement Rights Motion

I have to start by saying an enormous thank you to our armed forces, who show such qualities of selflessness, resilience, good judgment and humour

Mr David Borrow MP, Labour
Claims £1,300 per month in mortgage interest payments on a London flat which is designated as his second home, plus utilities and council tax

Voted against the Ghurkha Settlement Rights Motion

Mr David Crausby MP, Labour
Was allowed to borrow an additional £25,000 on his mortgage to refurbish his kitchen and bathroom last year. This boosted his mortgage interest claim by £400 a month

Voted against the Ghurkha Settlement Rights Motion

“General Dannatt has crossed an important line. He is playing a high-risk game. It is not appropriate to play party politics at this time. Dannatt should just get on with the job. After the conflict if there are lessons to be learnt we should do so in a considered manner.”

Linda Gilroy MP, Labour
Said that she was paying back £1,891. Her designated second home is a flat in Dolphin Square, London, where she claims £1,450 a month in rent. Claims £15 most months for cleaning and utilities. In 2005-6 had to repay £468 after being allowed to spend too much.

Voted against the Ghurkha Settlement Rights Motion

This is why the defence issues remain one of my top priorities in Parliament. I will continue to work hard for our defence sector and to ensure that Ministers understand how proud we are of Plymouth’s role and the importance which the city attaches to it

Mr David Hamilton MP, Labour
Claimed £1,710 for decorating at second home in London, other claims included £199 for lighting, £165 for mirrors, £200 for bedding and £180 on kitchen utensils

Voted against the Ghurkha Settlement Rights Motion

Surely the least that we can expect for our armed forces when they come back is a housing policy in every county, as there is in Midlothian, which gives them priority. It is accepted in the community, and it always has been, that they get priority.

Mr Mike Hancock MP, Liberal Democrats
Was ranked 548 out of 645 MPs, claiming only £10,859 of his second home allowance in 2007-08

Absent for the Ghurkha Settlement Rights Motion

Mr Dai Havard MP, Labour
Put through £1,165 of Argos receipts showing address in Wales, but told fees office goods went to London and that he had “asked” for this so he would remember to take invoices to constituency office

Voted against the Ghurkha Settlement Rights Motion

Mr Adam Holloway MP, Conservative, Grenadier Guards, Gulf War veteran
Had £2,219 worth of goods delivered to address in Gravesend which was cancelled by fees office. Insisted it was for second home in London and “re-claimed”. It was allowed

Voted for the Ghurkha Settlement Rights Motion

Mr Bernard Jenkin MP, Conservative
Rents his sister-in-law’s farmhouse as a second home and charged £50,000 to his expenses

Voted for the Ghurkha Settlement Rights Motion

Relatively small sums of money would make a huge difference to the quality of life of many servicemen and their families

Mr Brian Jenkins MP, Labour
Claims little or no mortgage interest for his property in London, categorised by the Telegraph as a ‘saint’

Voted against the Ghurkha Settlement Rights Motion

It is vitally important that injured service personnel are compensated, but it is also important that they have homes to return to that are set up to help them cope with day-to-day living,

Robert Key MP, Conservative
Claimed £1,650 on an oven for the house he owns in his Salisbury constituency. Painting the hall, landing, sitting room and kitchen Cornflower White cost £743. Employs his wife as a secretary.

Voted for the Ghurkha Settlement Rights Motion

Regardless of the reasons for the slippage that has occurred, it is unacceptable to try to save £2 million a year by cutting back on new carpets and curtains – talking about Armed Forces housing

Madeleine Moon MP, Labour
Spent thousands in furniture shops near her Welsh constituency house and claimed the money back on her London designated second home allowance

Voted against the Ghurkha Settlement Rights Motion

There is strong public support for our military personnel and their families. This consultation is about ensuring that the right systems are in place to protect them and their families, now and in the future.

John Smith MP, Labour, ex RAF
Claimed £57,955 in second home expenses in four years without submitting a single receipt

Voted against the Ghurkha Settlement Rights Motion

As an ex-serving airman myself it saddens me to say this, but I have no doubt in my mind that the single largest barrier to recruitment within our Armed Forces is institutional racism.

Richard Younger-Ross MP, Liberal Democrats
Spent £1,235 on four mirrors, bought a ‘Don Juan’ bookcase and repaid £4,300 for a hi-fi and luxury furniture.

Voted for the Ghurkha Settlement Rights Motion

Soldiers on their first tour of duty are putting their lives on the line every day, yet their pay is less than that earned by police constables and junior fire fighters

At the time I did not think these were luxury items. Clearly people think they are. If I got that wrong, I apologise. Many MPs come from middle-class and upper-class backgrounds so our idea of what a luxury item is is probably different to someone who is struggling

So, it’s a mixed bag.

Quite clearly not all MP’s are the same.

In the interests of fairness, this is a list if MP’s with military experience (excluding the ones above), perhaps you might like to look at the Telegraph page and compare notes.

Alan Keen (Labour/Co-operative) – Army, unknown regiment
Andrew Mitchell (Conservative) – Royal Tank Regiment
Andrew Robathan (Conservative) – Coldstream Guards, SAS
Andrew Selous (Conservative) – Honourable Artillery Company
Ben Chapman (Labour) – RAF
Ben Wallace (Conservative) – Scots Guards
Colin Challen (Labour) – RAF
Crispin Blunt (Conservative) –13th/18th Royal Hussars
David Davis (Conservative) – 21 SAS
David Tredinnick (Conservative) – Grenadier Guards
Derek Conway (Conservative) – Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
Desmond Swayne (Conservative) – Royal Mercian Lancastrian Yeomanry
Dr Andrew Murrison (Conservative) – Royal Navy
Dr Bob Spink (Conservative) – RAF
Dr Julian Lewis (Conservative) – Royal Naval
Dr Richard Taylor (Independent) – RAF
Eric Joyce (Labour) – Black Watch Regiment
Gerald Howarth (Conservative) – RAF
Gregory Barker (Conservative) – Honourable Artillery Company
Hugh Robertson (Conservative) – The Life Guards
Ian Liddell-Grainger (Conservative) – Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
James Gray (Conservative) – Honourable Artillery Company
Jeffrey Donaldson (Democratic Unionist Party) – Ulster Defence Regiment
Joe Benton (Labour) – RAF
John Baron (Conservative) – Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
Julian Brazier, (Conservative) – Parachute Regiment
Mark Francois (Conservative) – Royal Anglian Regiment
Mark Lancaster (Conservative) – Royal Engineers, still serving TA EOD
Michael Mates (Conservative) – Queen’s Dragoon Guards
Mike Penning (Conservative) – Grenadier Guards
Nicholas Soames (Conservative) – 11th Hussars
Patrick Mercer (Conservative) – Sherwood Foresters
Peter Viggers (Conservative) – RAF
Philip Hollobone (Conservative) – Parachute Regiment
Richard Benyon (Conservative) – Royal Green Jackets
Richard Ottaway (Conservative) – Royal Navy Officer
Robert Wareing (Labour) – RAF
Sir Nicholas Winterton (Conservative) – 14th/20th King’s Hussars
Sir Peter Tapsell (Conservative) – Royal Sussex Regiment
Tony Baldry (Conservative) – Royal Artillery

if there are any errrors in this post, sorry

About The Author

Think Defence hopes to start sensible conversations about UK defence issues, no agenda or no campaign but there might be one or two posts on containers, bridges and mexeflotes!

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
November 3, 2009 1:44 am

No wonder the RN has been so completely shafted then, only 3 ex-Tar’s compared to all those old squaddies and Crabfats…. :-(

November 3, 2009 11:39 am

Thank you so much for this post. I haven’t done any in depth research, but I am surprised at the number who have military experience because, with the exception of Eric Joyce a couple of months ago, not one of them has spoken out about the lack of strategy and political leadership there is for our armed forces at present.

Even I know our politicians aren’t in control of our forces – it’s the US. Brown will make no decisions unless he has direct instruction from the White House.

Meanwhile, 9000 troops do their best to keep themselves alive in the hell of Afghanistan.

Euan Stewart
November 3, 2009 5:25 pm

The things i notice from reading the list of names is the majority of the Ex military folk are in the Conservative party. Also most of the ex military people are Army blokes so the Army should be in good hands if the conservatives get elected. The RAF may not be well represented but they are a visable force to the public and are better at PR. Aicraft are sexy and fun, ships are big boring grey things and the Army simply has the people in the right places.

I agree with you Jed no wonder the RN is shafted and will continue to get shafted with only 3 ex RN MP’s. Add to that the seablindness of the public, the current wars and the lack of cash and we have a serious problem.

Btw i’ve written something that was going to be a reply to Dominics post. I was wondering if i could send it in and if someone would have a read and tell me what they thought?