Sunday, June 30, 2013

MPs' expenses: The Rule of Saint Nadine


From Brother Ivo:

Nadine Dorries is nothing if not an original member of Parliament; more Marmite than vanilla, and her colourful career has certainly taken an interesting turn with her decision to refuse to draw parliamentary expenses.

She will no doubt attract cynicism from her habitual detractors and not a little backbiting from those members of Parliament disinclined to follow her example. She has, however, added another provocation to her fellows by suggesting that our parliamentarians should follow the example of the Swedish Parliament and house themselves in state-owned appartment blocks in the vicinity of Westminster. She laments the lost opportunity of transforming the old County Hall for this purpose.

Brother Ivo recalls the late Alan Clark dismissing Michael Hesseltine as the kind of fellow who bought his own furniture. What he would have made of Mrs Dorries' Ikea youth hostel can only be imagined. An image was conjured up in Brother Ivo's mind - half Hogwarts; half Brian Rix farce. But then a more suitable model came to mind.

Why do we not go back to Parliament's Chapter House origins and thereby encourage a more reflective and sober approach in our legislators? Perhaps this is what Mrs Dorries has in mind .

To develop the idea further, Brother Ivo turned to the Rule of Saint Benedict which, though slim, is full of advice on how best to manage a community in order to foster a sense of earnestness and devotion, which is what the British public says it wants of its politicians.

The Saint is remarkably contemporary.

At the start of his Rule, Saint Benedict begins by dividing monks - as we might MPs - into four distinct and identifiable categories.

There are those who belong where they serve. Then those who have come through the test of longevity and passed beyond fervour and are 'ready, with God's help, to grapple singlehandedly with the vices of body and mind. Thirdly there are the 'most detestable kind...who, with no experience to guide them, no rule to guide them as gold is tried in a furnace, have a character as soft as lead... Their law is what they like to do whatever strikes their fancy'. Fourth and finally there are those 'who spend their entire lives staying as guests, drifting from region to region staying as guests for three or four days in different monasteries. Always on the move they never settle down and are slaves to their own appetites'.

For some strange reason the Michelin restaurants of Brussels came to Brother Ivo's mind as he typed that. Perhaps it is with the latter two categories in mind that much of what follows was written.

Brothers were to 'express themselves with all humility and not presume to defend their views with obstinacy'. We can all think of members of Parliament who might benefit from such advice, and John Bercow might appreciate the thought that 'so important is silence, that permission to speak should seldom be granted'.

To moderate excesses within this reformed House of Commons there is wise advice: 'We believe that half a bottle of wine is sufficient for each.' By way of contemporary update, Brother Ivo recalls that when the German Greens were first elected, they suggested that members should be breathalysed before entering the chamber on the basis that if one might not drive a Fiat 500 with alcohol in the system, perhaps one ought not to attempt to steer the Ship of State.

There is provision which might be usefully developed: 'If someone commits a fault whilst at work...(h)e must at once come before the Abbott and community and of his own accord, admit his fault and make satisfaction.' A positive duty for confession might be be a useful discipline for some of our more unruly legislators.

It would do no harm to remind our representatives that 'Idleness is the enemy of the soul' as they contemplate welfare reform. And, to preserve probity, an adaptation of the plainly-written rule - 'He must not presume to accept gifts even by his parents without telling the Abbott' - would avoid considerable doubt when dealing with lobbyists.

The more one studies this honourable text, the more incumbent it appears upon Mrs Dorries to develop a modern adaptation for the general improvement of parliamentary standards and decorum.

Of course one could not expect such a reformation to be attempted without being thoroughly trialled in advance. Brother Ivo's suggestion is that once she has completed her first draft, she approach the Prime Minister who has ring-fenced the Foreign Aid budget. He will surely embrace with enthusiasm the opportunity to offer, fully-formed, the new code for probity for testing by the recipients of significant UK Aid, by which Brother Ivo has in mind Kenyan members of Parliament who currently pay themselves more than US Senators.

(Posted by Brother Ivo)

34 Comments:

Blogger Span Ows said...

Well done Nadine: "I loathe the expenses system and believe it should be scrapped and MPs paid one flat-rate fee."

maybe it would tempt many of the current lot AWAY which can only help the country.

Brother Ivo writes: "It would do no harm to remind our representatives that 'Idleness is the enemy of the soul'

Pah! It would do no harm to remind our representatives that THEY ARE OUR REPRESENTATIVES not in any way greater, or more important, or better or some sort of leaders, just an elected representative to serve the people!

30 June 2013 00:29  
Blogger Peter D said...

Is that a pink winged creature I see flying by my window? It is, you know!

30 June 2013 00:39  
Blogger Richard Watterson said...

Welfare = idleness eh? The usual lazy thinking. Anyway idleness is good for the soul, plenty of time for contemplation.

30 June 2013 07:51  
Blogger David Hussell said...

In my experience the public services of this country are remarkably free of corruption, of the kind that enriches individuals financially. I would include the elected representatives in Local Government in that category as well, for despite their many faults there are few, if any, brown envelopes changing hands, despite the tales told in pubs.
That this is so, given the appalling example set for the people in The Mother of Parliaments is truly a testimony to the generally decent honest, character of the vast majority of the British public. This I believe is part of the Christian heritage of the country, but one wonders, as time passes, and faith recedes further and further into folk memory, with corruption at the top continuing despite exposure after exposure, just how long this habit of honesty will endure amongst the population ?
Moreover how long will it be before the politicians find ways to prevent a prying press operating freely?

30 June 2013 08:28  
Blogger Richard Armbach said...

Straying slightly off topic

http://hurryupharriet.wordpress.com/modus-example-the-methodists/

30 June 2013 08:37  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

30 June 2013 09:05  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Community Service in America and Foreign Aid in Britain has become the the patch for morality. I am not really sure that many people really understand what virtue is or what character consists of. So they just talk about some form of community service, or Government budget allocation. Thus providing "evidence" of virtuous behavior. They then feel that this excuses them to some extent and so this patch means that whatever else they get up to they are behaving in a virtuous manner and acting with honour.

Standing against greed in their minds is not virtue but just leads inevitably to frustration and failure.

Self indulgence, whether sexual, alcoholic, financial or whatever is not a sin anymore, so patches of morality are required in ones life to provide the "evidence" when challenged on say on Question Time or the Today Programme that they are good people.

You hear it all the time. Yes yes someone says we behaved dishonorably or incorrectly in the area you just asked me about. But just look at these good things we do. Surely, they override the wrong we have done. And generally, we fall for it! The interviewer appears to anyway.

Phil

30 June 2013 09:13  
Blogger bluedog said...

One can see a theme developing here; a belated return to morality.

A somewhat astonished headline in the DT records that voters strongly approve of Osborne's welfare clamp down. Imagine the headlines if Cameron followed Brother Ivo's innovative suggestions and backed them up action. How about clearing the favellas of illegal immigrants too?

Ship 'em out to Sierra Leone where the cold won't bother them and finance the project with the Foreign Aid budget. We could appoint DanJO and his many friends as special projects officers there in view of his despicable comments about the Armed Forces.

Follow this communicant's recommendations and the path to power is assured. Go for it, UKIP.

30 June 2013 09:40  
Blogger LEN said...

The basic annual salary for an MP from 1 April 2013 is £66,396. Many 'ordinary' people live on a fraction of this.

When any government official finds they can award themselves money from the public purse then we find we have a system open to abuse.

'Regulatory bodies' seem to do anything but their jobs' regulate things' because in many cases these bodies are part of the system.

Nadine(like Caesars wife) has placed herself above suspicion.Good on her.Lets see how many follow her example?.

30 June 2013 09:43  
Blogger Nick said...

"Thirdly there are the 'most detestable kind...who, with no experience to guide them, no rule to guide them as gold is tried in a furnace, have a character as soft as lead... Their law is what they like to do whatever strikes their fancy'"

Sounds like a well-know politician in this country...

I'm sure there's a scripture about being "ruled by boys" i.e. those with ideas but no wisdom, like some pimply youth who has just discovered politics...

I found the verse:
"I will make mere youths their officials; children will rule over them." Isaiah 3:4

30 June 2013 11:10  
Blogger Berserker said...

How long before the MP's inaugurate a bonus system for themselves? Sorry, they already have one: their very generous pension scheme. Oh, and I forgot the £10,000 a year salary increase they have been promised. Rough;y a 14% rise!

You would think that now that outer London MP's can no longer claim for a second home that there would be a shortage of applicants for the job of London MP's. Not on your Nelly. We have Millipede getting Joan Ryan a previous fiddler of expenses reselected for Enfield North after she was kicked out by the electorate. Do the good people of Enfield really have such a short memory.

30 June 2013 12:34  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Bloody dangerous idea. Telling MPs where they should live is only one step away from telling MPs how to vote...

Ah, penny’s dropped...

In that case, might as well house the blighters in one big dormitory. Lights out at 10 o’clock and ablutions at 6. That kind of thing...

30 June 2013 14:02  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Bluedog: "We could appoint DanJO and his many friends as special projects officers there in view of his despicable comments about the Armed Forces."

Despicable comments? Jesus. Too much sun?

30 June 2013 14:10  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Breaking news...

“Government to consider accommodating MPs in single sex dormitories”

But an LGBT activist is calling for double beds for gay MPs. Says it’s something to do with equality, probably. And access to gay porn too. And gay hot drink facilities. Again, for equality. And for gays to have a hand in the decor of the place. For diversity reasons, this time. And the place to be registered for homosexual weddings to take place. Otherwise full equality will never be achieved. And for gay cleaners. And a gay breakfast menu, and gay cutlery...


30 June 2013 14:21  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

In dept...

“MPs in single sex dormitories”

Fiercely heterosexual MPs have reacted angrily about the possibility of nocturnal gay activity taking place. “If any of the queer stuff happens, they are going to have their heads pushed down the lavatory and the thing flushed”. said one honourable homophobic thug. “And we’ll toast their behinds in the fire place too” suggesting that the beloved and world renowned English public school etiquette is alive and well in the twenty first century...


30 June 2013 14:38  
Blogger Peter D said...

Brother Ivo

It's a while since I last read the Rule of Benedict. Isn't there a section somewhere concerning the washing of the feet of visitors?

Now there's a thought. MP's washing the feet of their visitors to Parliament. A fitting sign of humility. May also cause some of them to pause too about their fancy suits, manicures and hair styles.

30 June 2013 14:40  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

“MPs in single sex dormitories”: The boys house master, Mr AE Housmaster, addresses parental concerns...

My boy, a cabinet minister who has always lived at home, insists I cut the crust off his bread
Fear not, madam. Your boy will want to eat the crust when he’s here, lest he appear gay in front of the others. For reasons I’d rather not go into.

The lad is a senior lib-dem. All he goes on about these days is same sex marriage, nothing else
In no time at all, he will be regaling you with stories of rugger and cricket, lest he appear gay...

Here’s a catering tub of marmite. For his bread soldiers, you know
Thank you dear lady. Cook will be delighted.

If he doesn’t get his own way he goes into a strop and threatens to resign the whip
I’m putting your child down for boxing. A good healthy release for pent-up frustration

As well as being a massive disappointment to his mother and me, he loathes physical exercise
Yes, he’s a porker alright. We do cross country, except for boys who say they are gay, they are excused.

He wets the bed
He’ll probably stop doing that. It’s a well known gay condition, and most boys do not want to appear gay in front of the others, for reasons. Well you know...

30 June 2013 18:01  
Blogger Nick said...

Inspector

Yuo are starting to sound like some sort of LGBT Mills & Boon novel

Have you missed your true vocation?

30 June 2013 18:34  
Blogger Roy said...

LEN said...

The basic annual salary for an MP from 1 April 2013 is £66,396. Many 'ordinary' people live on a fraction of this.

I would not regard that as excessive for what ought to be a very important job. However the job of an MP has been de-skilled to a great extent over the last 20 or 20 years. A high proportion of our laws are made in Brussels. Devolution has also reduced the powers of the Westminster parliament. The party whips tell MPs how to vote. When the MPs do respond to public opinion the European Court of "Human Rights" tries to over-rule them.

Given that the importance of an MP's job has been drastically reduced shouldn't there be a commensurate reduction in the salary? I would suggest a reduction of about 50%.

30 June 2013 19:30  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

How about putting them all on minimum wage as they're all loaded anyway, then we'll see who the genuinely caring ones are.

30 June 2013 20:15  
Blogger Peter D said...

Nick

I think the Inspector has missed his true vocation in life. His comedic talent is quite brilliant at times!

I suggest he starts on a new career by writing a weekly column for Pink News.

30 June 2013 20:19  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

I say Peter D. To paraphrase Admiral David Beatty, “There’s something wrong with our bloody DanJ0 today !”

He’s not biting, you know...

“Come out and fight, you scally !”

30 June 2013 20:27  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

It's your true orientation, not vocation, that you're missing Inspector. There, is that enough to satisfy your craving?

30 June 2013 21:20  
Blogger Peter D said...

Inspector

He's squirming around on the thread below trying to save face over his dismissive comments about our Armed Services. It's a real joy watching him use all his old familiar tactics.

30 June 2013 21:50  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Indeed former pugnacious bird. He really can’t bring himself to support our armed services without a string of riders and conditions attached...

Poor show, that closet boy !


30 June 2013 21:55  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Well, it looks like the blog has got its Bert and Ernie duo back again now that Dodo has fully reverted back to his true form.

30 June 2013 22:02  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Anyone seen DanJ0 ?
Yes, he’s in the closet
What’s he still doing in there ?
Pissing out, what do you think he’s doing

30 June 2013 23:04  
Blogger Peter D said...

Makes my blood boil, it does Inspector.

My lad's in the Royal Navy and during the last couple of years has been deployed to Iraq, Egypt, the Gulf and the Falklands - to say nothing of monitoring pirates off the East African coast. And he's paid less than underground train drivers who receive 'danger money'! But then, he's a 'professional' and not *really* fighting for freedom or to protect our way of life.

As for MP's and their salaries and expenses ... don't get me started. I agree with Len - reduce their pay by 50% and remove all the bonuses, perks, back-handers and so called *expenses*.

30 June 2013 23:05  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

Inspector,

Or as Admiral Nelson once said :

'Our country will, I believe, sooner forgive an officer for attacking an enemy than for letting it alone'.

30 June 2013 23:33  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

Peter D,

'My lad's in the Royal Navy'

And he is therefore welcome to sup and the dinner table of our family any day!

As for MP's 'pay' and 'expenses', I would suggest that we go back to a time when MP's were NOT paid a salary or go back to the £400 they were paid in 1910!

The MP is there to serve their constituents, not be cronies to the party or whoever can 'bribe' them quickest or about what personal enrichment they can gain out of the 'system'.


30 June 2013 23:45  
Blogger Peter D said...

Lord Lavendon

Why thank you, Sir. He was recently promoted to Petty Officer and is a fine, upstanding young man. His mother and I are very proud of him.

My daughter is a school teacher and, trust me, she wages a daily war against liberalism. In many ways it's as dangerous as my son's job. An 'enemy within' is as deadly, if not more so, as the more obvious hostile forces in this world of ours today.

Put MP's on 'benefit' - see how they cope then!

1 July 2013 00:01  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1 July 2013 00:11  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

Peter D,

When I was in Royal Navy, I was just cook... just a lowly, lowly cook... but I did know some good Krav Maga moves... all the crew thought they were food critics.

As for the salaried politicians, I always thought that was why Parliament 'sat' in the afternoon, so they could earn the money in the morning?

1 July 2013 00:18  
Blogger Richard Watterson said...

The good news is, it looks like MPs are getting a pay rise.

http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-23122628

1 July 2013 06:53  

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