Are You Retired?

It’s not necessary to be Angry also.

Were you a Police Officer or Firefighter?

Did you retire between 1998 and 2007?

If the answer to the previous 2 questions is NO, you might as well stop reading now, this is not really for you.

If the answer is YES, or you know somebody it might apply to, then you might want to carry on reading.

It seems that, unbelievable as it might be, the government and their lackeys may have screwed up your pension, more specifically, the commutation element.

I don’t pretend to understand all things pension, but I know a man who does, or at least he seems to. There is already a current campaign to right this particular wrong which I believe is spearheaded by the FBU. It has already resulted in Early Day Motion 768 meaning that the issue might now get debated.

A Facebook Group has been set up for people who may be affected and currently has over 1,000 members and rising rapidly.

What is the basic issue?

Many thousands of police officers and firefighters who took their pension and commuted part of it for cash from 1998 to 2007 had out of date values applied to the calculation of their lump sum. No revision of the commutation factors took place
during that period. The issue is that this resulted in lower payments than should have been the case as longer life expectancy and other factors were increasing ‘actuarial’ values over that period.

In 2008 new tables were announced. These were applied and later backdated to retirement dates in 2006.

For much more, and certainly more comprehensive, information read the FAQ Document here.

I can only emplore you to write to your MP and ask them to support the Early Day Motion.  If they won’t do that, ask them to write to Theresa May or Penny Mordaunt and ask them to rectify this wrong.

If you do Facebook, head on over to the Police and Fire Service Fairer Commutation Campaign Group and ask to be added, or discretely drop me your email address by DM,or whatever, and I will send you an invite to join.

If the campaign is successful it could be worth thousands of £ for those who are affected, and please pass this info on to anyone else you know who might be one of the affected ones.

ADDENDUM

I have been informed that whilst the FBU are representing their retired members the Police Federation of England and Wales are not representing retired Police Officers in this matter, because they are retired, currently paying no subs and are no longer members.  I cannot vouch for this personally, but I would welcome the truth if anyone knows it.

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We’re Not Gonna Take It

A rare treat for you, a musical blog.

David Camoron, we’ve had enough, WE’RE not gonna take it any more, and if you don’t do something about it you may find the results at the ballot box next May.

I know you’ve been busy, I saw you on my telly box at Stonhenge the other day. Have you become a Druid? When you’re not busy being busy I invite you to take a look around you;

On Tuesday we had the announcement that PCSOs and Police Staff ACROSS THE COUNTRY had voted to take strike action.

In the not too distant past we have had lawyers on strike bringing chaos to the Courts, do you remember that?

Teachers have been striking.

Local Councils have been striking.

Fire Brigades across the country have been striking, and indeed (I believe) some of them have lost their jobs over it.

Health Service workers have been striking.

Probation Officers have been striking.

Prison Officers have been threatening strike action.

Public sector workers from courts, museums, driving test centres, Job Centres, airports and other facilities have all been striking.

Do you want to know why all these, normally loyal and law-abiding people have been striking? Well, I’ll tell you anyway.  It’s all to do with your Pay Restrictions, messing with people’s pensions and your dangerous privatisation plans.

If you add up all of those people either striking, threatening or contemplating strike action it would come to a very big number indeed.  What on earth would you do if they all chose to strike on the same day? Once you’d summoned COBRA or RATTLESNAKE or whatever it’s called you’d panic because you would then be told that there weren’t enough Police Officers left to deal with the problem.  Plan B, call in the Army. Ooips, can’t do that either, same reason, got rid of too many already.  Maybe the French could let you have some CRS Troops on Mutual Aid, after all, the Mayor of Calais is asking for British Police to go and sort out the carnage with illegal immigrants there.  Oh how I laughed at that one.

Police and Armed Forces aren’t allowed to go on strike, so you’re reasonably safe there. Although I am informed that we are the only country in the EU that does not give our Police Officers Employment Rights.

Maybe you could explain to us exactly why it is that you politicians are reluctantly accepting your generous pay and pension awards?  If the problem is that the law doesn’t a;;ow you to decline them, then maybe you’ve got enough time left in the government to change the law, to make it lawful. After all, you managed to do that with so many public sector pensions, why not your own? #JustAsking.

While you’re at it, in the week that another 5 years of Austerity has been announced, more cuts, 5 more years of no, or inconsequential, pay rises, how is that we have money to spare to drive a road tunnel underneath Stonehenge? Could that money not have been better spent elsewhere? #JustAsking

Does none of this bother you? Are you even aware of the carnage you’re causing? Silly question, you must be.

In 2010 we were fooled, many of us voted Tory but got lumbered with a toxic coalition that nobody had voted for.  Many of us will not make that mistake again, we won’t be fooled by your insincere rhetoric.  Maybe you don’t get it, but many of us have seen through what you’re doing. We may be small in number but your own actions and those of your ridiculous collection of ministers is doing our work for us. You are spreading the word yourselves. More and more people are realising what you’re doing.

WE Won’t Get Fooled Again

 

RIP Keef & The Ox

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#AllInThisTogether – The Nitty Gritty

I’ve had ample time to calm down, my beta-blockers have all run out and my on-call psychiatrist has had a nervous breakdown.

I have had time to take in IPSA’s recommendations for the future salaries and pensions for our illustrious politicians.

It contains some absolute corkers in relation to the 11% pay rise and amended pension scheme.

My work here is done, I’ll restrict myself to some lazy quotes from the document, they, after all, can put it far more eloquently than I could ever hope to.

  • It should be modern, transparent, fair, sustainable, and treat MPs as professionals.
  • We have a duty to contribute to restoring confidence in our Parliament and parliamentarians. The package that we have developed seeks to do so: by investing in the future of our Parliament and our democracy; by bringing an end to the peculiarly generous perks of the past; and, crucially, by seeking to help MPs address an issue raised time and again, namely a large majority of the public simply do not know what their MP does.
  • IPSA’s powers to determine MPs’ pay and pensions are set out in the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009 and the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010. For MPs’ pay, the powers were transferred from Parliament to IPSA in May 2011. The equivalent powers to determine MPs’ pensions were transferred in October 2011.2. This means that decisions on MPs’ pay and pensions are now taken by  IPSA, independently of government and Parliament. Likewise they will be implemented according to a timetable determined by IPSA alone.
  • We recognise that we must answer the question: why do this now? Why do this at a time of austerity, when the British economy is struggling and when household budgets are under such pressure? Our answer is simple, but not glib: the lesson of the last 30 years is that there is never a good time to tackle this question. Wait for the moment when it is politically expedient to address it – when all the stars are aligned – and one would wait a long time, risking a repetition of the sad story of those last 30 years.

THE PACKAGE

  • the scaling down of the generous resettlement payments;
  • a pension on a par with those which will be payable in other parts of the public service;
  • reinforcing the boundary between business costs and expenses on the one hand and pay on the other;
  • annual reporting by MPs on their activities and spending; and finally
  • a salary of £74,000 in 2015, indexed to annual growth in average earnings in the whole economy thereafter.

…….evidence that MPs’ pay has fallen behind since the last review of their
remuneration in 2007. There is a pay gap, a problem to be fixed  And who else might THAT apply to eh?

……..it is not a series of trade-offs between the component parts of the package. Other
public sector workers have not received salary compensation for the reform of their
pensions. Nor should MPs. Well it damn well looks like one

THE PENSION

MPs’ pensions is to move to a CARE
scheme, along the lines of the reformed public service schemes. The main features of
the new scheme are set out below.

  • 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 of 1/51st 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 reduced to 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.

AND FINALLY…

We have identified a number of expenses which arguably should be paid for by MPs
themselves. These include:

  • the food subsidy that can be claimed if Parliament sits after 7.30pm;
  • hospitality (which includes payments for tea and biscuits in the office);
  • hotels taken before 1 am (but not for those MPs who use hotel accommodation only when in London);
  • taxis home if they are taken before 11pm;
  • home contents insurance (for personal possessions); and
  •  installation of a television and the licence for it in a residential property.

Well, that’s alright then, we are all in this together after all, Silly Me. All the government have to do then is have a mass debate, vote and change the two laws referred to above. Simples.

It’s not as though they haven’t done that before is it?

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Broken Britain, by David Camoron

People of Britain, (please note that I did not say Great Britain, because it’s long since stopped being Great), I have to report to you that Britain is Broken.

The Police Service is broken. Broken by Winsor 1 and 2, broken by Theresa May, my right hand man, broken by our new Police and Crime Commissioners with their 200 performance targets. Broken by the changes to their pensions, pay scales, Compulsory Severance, they are broken.  They spend all their working lives trying to lock people up, well, we just had to break that mould, can’t be having folk locked up now can we? In fact, they are so broken that we’ve had to ask our partners, G4$, $erco and the like, to step in and rescue them and bring huge chunks of them into profit.  The Police have got the hump with me anyway, and all because I described them as ‘Relatively Honest’.  Don’t they realise that was in comparison with Ghaddafi’s Police, why are they even bothered?

The Armed Forces are broken. The combined strength of the Armed Forces is now at its lowest level since World War II when we fought that other despot, Mr Hitler.  We’re going to lose some more in the near future, but fear not, because I have a cunning plan.  We’ll increase the numbers of the Territorial Army and hopefully no-one will notice the difference.  If that doesn’t work we’ll get Captain Mainwaring and his men out of retirement to bolster the numbers and protect our shores and assets.

The Fire Brigade is broken. Fire Engines have been sold off, Fire Stations are being closed. Privatisation/Outsourcing/Partnership is creeping in, Firefighters are going to have to work longer for less pension, so all is well and going to plan.

The National Health Service is broken. Waiting lists are on the rise again, we’re haemorrhaging  doctors and nurses, they don’t want to stay any more. Hospital budgets are buggered, waiting times in A&E are completely unacceptable. The Health Service is safe in our hands, but Broken.

Because the Hospitals are broken, that has broken the Ambulance Service, who can no longer deliver their patients to hospital in a timely manner and get back out there.  Instead they spend hours parked up on the A&E Ambulance ramp just waiting, before they can get back into service once again.  The upside of this though, is that they can claim compensation from the hospital for keeping them waiting, thus screwing the hospital’s budget just a little bit more.

The Coastguards are broken.  We’ve closed down nearly half the Coastguard Stations around the British coast, with nice new shiny Central Control Centres set up miles from the sea.  Coastguard numbers are down too, so we’re well on target to have smashed them anytime soon.  The Search and Rescue Service has been sold off to a foreign company, so no matter how efficient they are at finding folk, they’re working for profit and those profits will go abroad. That’s good right? I’d quite like to outsource the RNLI as well, but as that’s a charity it might take a bit more thinking about.

The Prison Service is broken.  We are now beginning to see prisons run by our partners G4$ and $erco etc. It will soon be a shadow of its former self, but at least it will be privately run.

The Probation Service is broken.  Once again our illustrious partners G4$ and $erco came riding to the rescue and took on parts of the Probation Service remit, and even though they’re facing ongoing fraud enquiries because they seemingly charged for services they did not provide, that’s OK, that nice Chris Grayling has said that it’s OK for them to bid for new contracts

Social Services are so broken that G4$ have had to take over the running of some Children’s Homes, and apply for Planning Permission etc under the name of a private individual.

The Legal System is broken.  We were going to award contracts to the lowest bidder, but Chris Grayling has U Turned on that.  We will however carry out the following

  • Legal aid fees will be cut by 17.5% across the board
  • Residency tests to be introduced for civil legal aid – only those who have lived in the UK for more than 12 months will be eligible
  • Cap on contracts for duty solicitor work at police stations
  • Income restrictions will be put in place – those with more than £3,000 per month after mortgage, tax and other “essential outgoings” will not be entitled to aid
  • 11,000 cases brought by prisoners will no longer be eligible
  • And on top of that you will no longer be eligible for Legal Aid to challenge any Government decision.  That’s fair, right?

The Penal System is broken along with Human Rights.  Too many people, mainly victims or people who might become victims,, bang on about the Human Rights of victims.  Don’t they know that criminals have Human Rights too?  We need LESS prisons, not more, and stop violating criminals’ rights by banging them up.  If I had my way I’d withdraw from the ECHR completely, nothing but aggravation.

Finally, our greatest success to date, and one of which I, personally, am immensely proud, the people of Britain are broken.  Their will has been drained and smashed.  They don’t know where to get help and advice any more and they certainly don’t have the means to challenge our wonderful reforms. they are smashed.

So, as you can see, Britain is comprehensively broken, and I broke it.  When I joined the scumbag party I made it my mission to become the most loathed British Prime Minister in modern times, and I think I have succeeded don’t you?  Even Maggie didn’t break anywhere near as much as I have succeeded in doing, but we couldn’t have achieved any of this without the help and support from our chums at PX, they really are the best Think Tankers ever.

Please remember this when you go to the polls in May 2015, but if for any reason, there happens to be a miserable turnout, that will still give us a mandate for further breaking, because we said so.

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#SnoutsInTheTrough

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?

#SnoutsInAllTheTroughs
 
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Ethics

Good morning folks,

I woke up this morning to a right little Twitter Shit-Storm about Ethics. I’m sure you’ve seen it, how can you have missed it?

I’m sure it’s reported everywhere this morning but our favourite news agency Pravda, sorry, I meant the BBC, have chosen to report it under the headline

‘Cut police pensions’ to punish misconduct, MPs say

“Police officers who commit serious misconduct should have their pensions docked, a group of MPs has said.

The Home Affairs Select Committee also called for a new code of ethics for all officers in England and Wales.

Its report comes after the “plebgate” affair and a series of allegations about the conduct of undercover police.”

So what’s actually NEW about this?  The old Police Authorities always had the power to take away part of an officer’s pension if he/she was convicted of a serious crime, I presume that PCCs have retained this power, I have seen nothing to the contrary.  Last time I looked British Justice still worked on the ‘Innocent till proven Guilty’ principle, although sometimes I wonder with the way certain sections of the media report things.

“But the committee said it had learned of numerous cases where police officers facing corruption allegations had retired to avoid disciplinary proceedings and had suffered no financial penalty.

It cited the example of Sir Norman Bettison, former chief constable of West Yorkshire, who stepped down while facing a disciplinary investigation for gross misconduct charges relating to the Hillsborough disaster.”

This is true, I’m sure that we can all repeat stories of officers who have resigned in order to avoid disciplinary proceedings, but this is somewhat different.  If an officer is facing allegations of corruption as stated above, the mere fact that they have conveniently resigned does not make them immune from criminal investigation and subsequent prosecution. Many Police Forces allow officers under criminal investigation to resign so that they appear in the dock as “Ex Policed Officer Smith” and not “Serving Police Officer Smith”.  Personally I don’t have a problem with this practice per se as it helps to maintain the image of the Police Service, but it is important that the investigation/prosecution is continued to retain the integrity of the process.

I remain to be convinced that we need a new Code of Ethics, I’m pretty certain that existing policies and procedures are quite capable of dealing with almost any issue if applied correctly and consistently.

As for the allegations about the conduct of undercover officers, they are just that, allegations. Trial by Media has taken place and all 43 Police Forces have been convicted.  If these allegations turn out to be true then I would fully support any action that is taken to bring those responsible to book.  IF they are true there are several people out there who know the truth, let them come forward and we should be big enough and ugly enough to deal with it and take it on the chin, deal with honestly and move forward to retain the respect and admiration that the Police Service in the United Kingdom deserves, and it DOES deserve it.  The SIO must know the truth.  Other Undercover Officers presumably know the truth, there should be a Decision Log in existence somewhere recording the decision and why it was taken.  A costly enquiry will/should uncover the truth anyway, so let those people who know the truth come forward and put us out of our misery.  All I want to hear is the truth, good, bad or indifferent. Is that too much to expect?

As for MPs demanding Ethics from anybody, that’s just laughable.  Ethically bankrupt, I don’t need to go any further than one word – Expenses.  I have no desire to repeat all of the details that we know so well anyway, but I will share one thing with you.  This morning I reversed my own decision, and once again put on my #FOI Cloak and submitted the following request to IPSA and the Met Police

“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?”

If IPSA doesn’t duck the issue and refuse to answer this should enable us to quantify the Ethics of MPs.  We know how many MPs make up the House of Commons, if I actually get an answer we can calculate the percentage that is Unethical.

No profession is perfect and I’m not blind or stupid enough to think that the all Police Officers are perfect. But I am arrogant enough to think that those that MAKE the laws of this land should be prosecuted if they BREAK the laws of this land, in EVERY instance.

Finally, is it just a coincidence that this shit-storm broke today, when the other attention-grabbing headline was this one

David Cameron ‘warned he cannot stop pay rise for MPs’

Apparently our politicians think that they deserve a pay rise of up to 32%, although, in fairness, this is likely to be pegged at a mere 15%.

#AllInThisTogether or #SnoutsInTheTrough? You decide.

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Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

Nope, I haven’t gone mad and started promoting parliamentary committees.

But I did get to wondering after Saturday’s blog, “I Am Disturbed“, about the thorny subject of ethics in the Houses of Parliament.

We probably first started to doubt the ethics of our politicians when the now famous expenses scandal excrement hit the air conditioning device.  That has been well documented and publicised so I won’t dwell on it further except to say that old habits seem to die hard with some people.

In Camoron and co’s reforms of the Legal System they have scrapped Legal Aid for several different things, but one that crept through quietly was Legal Aid in respect of challenging government decisions.  Our old friend Chris Grayling has changed the system to avoid the government having to defend itself continuously against ‘spurious’ challenges.

But wait! It gets worse! He has also introduced a £1,300 charge.

Under the new rules, people will have to pay both sides’ costs of preparing cases for a review until it is accepted by a court, when Legal Aid will start to pick up the bill.

Legal aid would then pick up the £1,000 to £1,300 cost of preparing legal papers retrospectively, as long as the case had been accepted by the court.

So although Legal Aid might still pick up the tab if you’re lucky, this will only be retrospective, making it impractical or impossible for normal folk to challenge government decisions in the courts.

Is it ethical to deliberately set out to make it harder to challenge a ‘democratic’ (ha) decision?

Under another plan foreign migrants are to be banned from obtaining legal aid for civil claims until they have lived in Britain for at least a year. Is this an ethical policy or is it a racist policy?

The latest round of NHS Reforms will directly or indirectly benefit current members of the House of Lords. There are those that would have you believe that they will benefit certain members of the Cabinet as well.

One fifth of Lords who voted on Health Bill had conflicted interests

Peers from every party were found to have private healthcare connections. According to Social Investigations’ research, one in four Conservative peers had links, compared to one in six Labour and one in 10 Liberal Democrats.

The Lords’ Register of Interests is updated regularly and exists to chart any potential conflict of interests. The Lords’ code of conduct also states that peers must ‘declare when speaking in the House, or communicating with ministers or public servants, any interest which is a relevant interest in the context of the debate or the matter under discussion.’

However, there is no procedure to stop Lords with conflicted interests from voting on bills. And there is no suggestion that any of the Lords who voted for the Bill did anything wrong.

But is it ethical?

The NHS is safe in our hands
The NHS is safe in our hands

Privatisation in its many guises.  This brings Ministers and Lords into close proximity with companies like our old friends G4S (but not G4S exclusively I must point out).

John Reid (now Lord Reid), former Home Secretary and Minister for Health, Defence and Transport, who went on the G4S payroll at £50,000 in 2008 when he was a backbench MP, is now a G4S director with a seat in the House of Lords.

“Is the Minister aware that the best protection against misuse or fraud on cyber issues is biometric protection?” asked Lord Reid during a January 2012 debate on electoral registration in the House of Lords, neglecting to mention that his employers G4S are big players in the biometrics market.

What else is this company up to? It’s a partner in the private finance initiative project that is GCHQ, the UK Government Communications Headquarters. It’s engaged in “total facilities management”in the NHS, looking forward to “strong pipeline” from the Department of Health. It’s at the heart of government plans to install smart meters in every single home in Britain, with Centrica, O2 mobile and others gathering data for the “G4S Data Bank”.  It’s a big player in the automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) market. Its commanding position in “asylum markets” gets only stronger,

I don’t believe that Lord Reid is the only Peer in this position, I just use him as an example of the sort of thing that goes on. Neither am I saying that Lord Reid is doing anything wrong.

But is it ethical?

Finally (for now) – Pensions. Government are forever telling us that we must work longer, pay more in and draw less out. Final Salary Pension Schemes are rapidly being replaced with Career Average Pension Schemes. So it should come as no great surprise to your that our politicians are holding on to their Final Salary Pensions like there’s no tomorrow, and for some of them there might not be.

MPs should face “exactly the same changes” to their pensions as those imposed on public sector workers, David Cameron once said in 2011.  In opposition, the Tories and Lib Dems pledged to ditch the final salary pension scheme for new MPs and replace it with one linked to prices on the Stock Market. What’s more, while raising the retirement age for 2.6 million of the country’s working women by up to two years, MPs have still not accepted proposals made in summer 2011 for their pension age to rise from 65 to 68 while they await the outcome of the IPSA review into salaries and pensions (see below).

But is it ethical?

And then today we get this headline

MPs may get £10k pay rise: But they say: ‘It’s not snouts in the trough – if you pay peanuts you get monkeys’

IPSA believes MPs’ wages are well below those of equivalent professionals working in London such as accountants.According to some insiders, officials believe a pay rise as high as 25 per cent – taking  salaries to £82,172 – is needed to give MPs a fair deal.But it is thought they may recommend a figure closer to £10,000 to try to minimise the anticipated public outcry. Public Outcry?  Would there really be any? A Pay Rise of 25%? Why would there be a Public Outcry about that?

A senior MP said he feared they would be accused of  having their ‘snouts in the trough’ but argued: ‘Voters may not like it, but if you pay peanuts you get monkeys.’

So the establishment that already pays its coffee makes more than a Probationary PC is now considering an inflation-busting pay rise of 25% for itself?  But it’s OK it’s not #SnoutsInTheTrough, they say so. To sweeten the pill for the public they are likely to demand that MPs give up their guaranteed pensions and switch to a less generous scheme.
But is it ethical?
The Oxford Dictionary defines ethical;
  • relating to moral principles or the branch of knowledge dealing with these:ethical issues in nursing ethical standards
  • morally good or correct:can a profitable business ever be ethical?
  • avoiding activities or organizations that do harm to people or the environment:an expert on ethical investment switching to more ethical products adopt ethical shopping habits ethical holidays.

So I guess my question has become “Are these issues above morally good or correct?”

If your answer is NO then what the bloody hell is the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner doing about it?

The Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards deals with the application of the Code of Conduct and related Rules that apply to Members of Parliament.

This includes the registration of financial interests held by MPs and the investigation of complaints about MPs who have allegedly breached the Code of Conduct or related Rules.

Key responsibilities

  • Overseeing the maintenance and monitoring the operation of the Register of Members’ Financial Interests
  • Providing advice on a confidential basis to individual Members and to the Select Committee on Standards about the interpretation of the Code of Conduct and Guide to the Rules relating to the Conduct of Members
  • Monitoring the operation of the Code of Conduct and Guide to the Rules and, where appropriate, proposing possible modifications of it to the Committee on Standards
  • Preparing guidance and providing training for Members on matters of conduct, propriety and ethics
  • Receiving and investigating complaints about Members who are allegedly in breach of the Code of Conduct and Guide to the Rules, and reporting her findings to the Committee on Standards
  • The Commissioner also presents an annual report to the House of Commons on the work of her office

I understand that most, if not all, of the above relate to individuals, but who the hell monitors the ethics of Parliament as a whole? Or is it just that they can fob us off with absolutely anything they choose without fear of challenge or consequences? Because that’s exactly what it feels like.

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OK IBS I’ve had enough of you now, this time it’s personal

Oh no, sorry, I meant IDS (Iain Duncan Smith) IBS is obviously something completely different.

You may have problems viewing today’s blog on a phone, normal service will be resumed soonly.

I’ve listened to Iain Duncan Smith’s views and suggestions on various topics over the last few months with increasing incredulity, how arrogant can a politician get?

Now he disturbed my weekend away by suggesting that pensioners should hand back their Free Bus Passes and Winter Fuel Allowance payments. This provoked almost total apoplexy in the Angry household.  I’m not old and decrepit enough to receive either of those wonderful benefits yet, but when my time comes I intend to receive both of them with open arms. I won’t be voluntarily handing back a single penny.

My personal opinion, and it’s only that, (other opinions are also available) is that I have been fortunate enough to pay National Insurance contributions every week/month since the day I left school. For this I am unbelievably grateful, but I hold the view that having done so I should be allowed to receive those benefits to which I am ENTITLED without being harassed my some millionaire politician spouting some diatribe that the country really isn’t very interested in hearing.

If this government is truly interested in its Austerity measures and things like handing back Bus Passes and Heating payments then maybe they could set a fine example and look at themselves.  How much do they claim that they could afford to do without?

If you want to see who has claimed what in the House of Commons over the last few years you can view that information here.

I thought that I would give you a starter for 10 as it were and publish Mr Iain Duncan Smith’s Parliamentary expenses for the year 2012-2013 and 2011-2012 (which seems to be the last year that the records contain a full financial year’s expenses).

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

2012-2013

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Nothing too much to get excited about here, adds up to just over £8,000, but it includes claims for things like £2.06 for a new pen, and £41.86 for a ‘Yellow Duster’. Speak to Mrs Angry, she can buy them cheaper than that. Does a millionaire really have to claim back 2 quid for a poxy pen? And then ask pensioners to hand back some of their entitlements? Bloody cheek.

2011 – 2012

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A full year’s expenses adding up to just over £20k. It is recommended that the starting pay of a newly selected Constable be reduced by £4,000 to £19,000 per annum, so that would be less than Iain Duncan Smith’s expenses then?, and he wants pensioners to pay back some of their entitlements.

You’ve already said that you could exist on £53 per week Mr Smith, I haven’t seen you begin that exercise yet, but maybe you will.

Now what will you cease claiming to make pensioners feel better about your latest hair-brained scheme? I wonder.

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My 2nd 15 Minutes of Fame

Or Two Minutes and 50 Seconds to be precise.

This was the length of time that Theresa May devoted to answering our questions at yesterday’s Home Affairs Select Committee meeting.

I had had the temerity to submit the following question to the Committee  “Given that Police Pensions must change and evolve, why are these changes being forced upon existing members?  If all proposed changes were restricted to future members of the scheme much hostility and opposition could surely be avoided.” and I must thank Mr @Keith_VazMP for giving me the opportunity to do so.

I received such a bland acknowledgement of my question that I assumed it had been ignored.  Until yesterday that is when I started to get Tweets from folk on here asking if that was me that had just been mentioned at #HASC. Bloody Hell I thought.

My congratulations go to @MentalHealthCop as he seems to have received an answer to his question but Theresa May did not seem to answer the question that I had actually asked, but rather adopted the usual politician’s stance of answering the question she would have preferred to have been asked.

So maybe I should have a stab at answering it for her.  She has had her opportunity after all.

Given that Police Pensions must change and evolve, why are these changes being forced upon existing members?

The first reason may be that the government are greedy and can’t wait for the increased pension contributions of new recruits on £19k per annum to filter through and swell the coffers. They seem to want results now and not in the future. I suspect that they knew full well that rates of pay for new recruits were going to fall dramatically when Mr Winsor drew up his plans against us (sounds a bit War of the Worlds ish)

The second reason may possibly be that new recruits are not joining the new, improved Police Pension Scheme as they don’t see it as an attractive proposition, hence the increased money coming in would not be sufficient for government’s needs if restricted to new recruits.   I don’t know this for a fact, it is just supposition. Maybe some of our Fed colleagues can respond and let me know the situation.

So there we are, my second appearance on the evil telly box, even if this was only by proxy. I was going to keep it to myself but was prompted by one or more of you out there, so here it is. You know who you are.

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We’re All In This Together Part II

Are we?  Are we really all in this together?

I was reminded by a revered colleague that I had been remiss and missed an opportunity to criticise our wonderful government.  Well, I didn’t really miss the opportunity I just Tweeted a succession of facts and comments about the issue, without, for once, thinking of blogging it.

The issue is this.

In June 2011 David Cameron said this to the beleagured citizens of the United Kingdom, he said that MPs should face “exactly the same changes” to their pensions as those imposed on public sector workers.

MPs have a funded final salary scheme, they pay a fixed contribution and the Exchequer is liable for the balance.  What has happened to Public Sector Final Salary Pension Schemes I ask?  They have been closed, to new and existing members and replaced with what I believe is known as a Career Average Scheme.  So that’s treating MPs facing EXACTLY the same changes as public sector workers is it?

MPs have their own scheme – the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund – a funded final salary scheme which, as of the end of March 2010, had 646 active members, 876 pensioners and 164 deferred pensioners.  Conservative MP Claire Perry told Mr Cameron there was a “contract between taxpayers and MPs” when it came to pensions.  Mr Cameron – who in opposition described MPs’ final salary scheme as “very generous” – replied: “I agree with you that we are public sector workers as well and we should be subject to exactly the same changes we are asking others to take on. So the increase in contributions should apply to the MPs’ system, even though it is a system where we pay in quite a lot”

Quite unequivocal?  Yes?  Even I can understand those words.

Fast Forward to last week and we are confronted with the following headline –

MPs to get ‘holiday’ from paying more into their gold-plated pensions leaving the taxpayer to pick up £2million bill
The Treasury was expecting a 1.85 per cent rise in contributions to come into play this April – but IPSA, the MPs’ expenses watchdog, made the surprise announcement that the rise was being suspended.It means the taxpayer will be forced to plough even more money into MPs’ pensions to plug the gap, at a time when millions are having to tighten their belts to fund higher contributions towards their own pensions.

Almost all public sector workers are facing contribution rises of up to 6 per cent, and for staff in the private sector contribution rates are also going up.

Despite this, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority said it will put off any decisions on members’ contributions until after it has considered the whole issue of MPs’ pay and pensions in a report expected later this year.

The decision means that policemen will be paying more towards their pensions than MPs by 2015.

MPs’ pensions arrangements are among the most generous in the country. They contribute an average of 13.2 per cent of their £65,738 salaries into the schemes, which pay out after they reach 65.

In contrast, by 2015 policemen will be contributing 13.7 per cent towards their pensions.

MPs have to pay into their scheme for far fewer years than ordinary workers before getting a full pension. And they benefit from a higher  taxpayer contribution to their pensions than any other group in the public sector – almost 29 per cent compared with 14 per cent for teachers and nurses

Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘MPs should be subject to the same pension reforms they’re imposing on the wider public sector. They say we’re all in it together, so it’s only fair that politicians contribute more to their hugely generous pension schemes to help repair our broken public finances.’

Ros Altmann, former pension adviser to the Treasury, said: ‘At a time when pensions are becoming more expensive to provide, it is rather unusual that MPs’ contributions are not increasing when they are everywhere else.’

IPSA said it deferred the rise so the contribution rate could be considered alongside other aspects as part of a wholesale review of pay and pensions.
In July 2010 the Senior Salaries Review Body published its report, which recommended changing parliamentary pensions from a final salary to a career average scheme, increasing the retirement age from 65 to 68 and and standardising the accrual rate at 1/60th of salary.
Well that’s alright then, a review of MPs pay and pensions, coupled with seemingly ignoring the advice of the Senior Salaries Review Body. Maybe they’ll have to pay more for longer to get less after the review.  After all, we are all in this together, Mr Cameron told us so.

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