“there can be no grounds for a suggestion of misuse of public money..”

A BBC report notes that the former parliamentary commissioner for standards, Sir Alistair Graham, has called for a review of the Assembly’s ministerial code of conduct. Not just ministerial, I’d suggest, but for individual MLAs. In light of the arrangements by Ian Paisley Jnr, MLA, and Ian Paisley Snr, MP, MLA, to claim as rental costs, public funds which, by Ian Paisley Jnr’s admission, were used to directly pay off the mortgage on the property when he [Ian Paisley Jnr] was “the mover and shaker” in the purchase of that property, here is what the House of Commons ‘Green Book’: Parliamentary Salaries, Allowances and Pensions [pdf file] has to say about the arrangements for Members’ constituency offices

Rules on the arrangements for Members’ constituency offices
5.12.1. Principles

You must ensure that arrangements for your office and surgery premises are above reproach and that there can be no grounds for a suggestion of misuse of public money. [added emphasis]
5.12.2. Propriety
You must avoid any arrangement which may give rise to an accusation that you – or someone close to you – is obtaining an element of profit from public funds; or that public money is being diverted for the benefit of a political organisation. [added emphasis] The allowances must not be used to meet the costs of leasing accommodation from:
 Yourself (But see paragraph 5.12.9. on using an office in your home)
 A close business associate, or any organisation in which you – or a partner or family member – have an interest
 A partner or family member (which includes relatives by blood and by marriage.)

5.12.3.
If the accommodation is leased from a political party or a constituency association, you must ask an independent valuer to assess the property in order
to ensure that it is being rented at no more than the market rate. See also paragraph 5.12.5. on agreements for accommodation and services in combination.
5.12.4.
You should seek advice from the Registrar of Members’ Interests if the premises are provided rent free or at a rental below market rates.

For Members of Parliament there is also a limit on the Incidental Expenses Provision they can claim.

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  • DC

    “Ian Paisley Jnr’s admission, were used to directly pay off the mortgage on the property when he [Ian Paisley Jnr] was “the mover and shaker” in the purchase of that property”

    That’s just so greasy. And to think Ian Paisley Snr didn’t know about that either.

    What a bunch of arrogant crooks, hardly surprising about the DUP sure even Peter Robinson was selling off his own backgarden to profit from landbanking associated with extortionate land prices.

    A greasy bunch.

  • Surely Ian Paisley is thus in breach of Parliamentary rules?

  • “Tuesday 19 February

    A Spotlight Special – Mark Carruthers examines the
    impact of the resignation of Ian Paisley junior from the Stormont Government and asks what the future holds for the Paisley political dynasty”

    BBS NI Spotlight 10:30pm – Youtube later probably

  • fair_deal

    Watchman

    “Surely Ian Paisley is thus in breach of Parliamentary rules?”

    Nope. The rental is paid under assembly expenses not Westminster expenses. The Westminster rules quoted above do not apply.

  • joeCanuck

    But does Senior draw office expenses from Stormont AND Westminster AND Europe?

  • Elvis Parker

    Fair Deal – are you saying that the DUP Leader draws no Westminster expenses in connection with his constituency office?
    (probably because all the money has gone in paying his Research Assistant

  • Granni Trixie

    I do not think that enough has been made about JNR apparent lack of awareness of how immoral and greedy he appeears to be to others even if, as he says, he has done noting illegal.I mean why should an MLA have a lower standard of accountability than say someone in a community group who has to show receipts to funders for all expenditure and to spend funding on whatever it was given for?

    Also, did Sir Reg not indicate today that he thinks that MLAs are above equality laws – he defended employing relatives because politics is a ‘special’ occupation which rlatives are best placed to do ..surely if it this was the case political jobs could be officially defined as for relatives as a “special occupational requirement”?

  • Alex S

    1. When a constituent of Ian Paisley wants to speak to his MP does he have to trek all the way to the Ravenhill Road offices or the Ballymena offices?

    2. Why if it costs wee Jeffrey Donaldson 19k P/A or so to rent an ‘overnight’ flat in london does it cost Mr and Mrs Robinson 19k P/A each, do they not share a bed, or are they sticking the arm in?

    The problem of DUP greed and arogance goes much further than young Ian

  • joeCanuck

    I can understand why Mr. and Mrs. Robinson might want separate bedrooms or at least a study and a bedro0m if they are working on different things or on different schedules.
    But 2 times seems a bit much. Yet maybe that is a reasonable London rate.

  • Alex S

    £19k x2 = £38k x5 (for a full parlimentary term) = £190k in the bag, not bad!

  • fair_deal

    Elvis parker

    “are you saying that the DUP Leader draws no Westminster expenses in connection with his constituency office?”

    I only know what is in the public realm about the rental of that property – that its rental is being claimed from the Assembly.

  • URQUHART

    Spotlight on the subject very interesting.

    Particularly so to see that Sammy was sent to wield the knife. And him a close friend of the family.

    Most telling part I thought was when he was asked whether PJ was sent out to face the media alone because of a fear that more was to come. Sammy looked and sounded very uncomfortable indeed.

    The move is on.

    And Robinson is a smart smart man.

  • As Cromwell said. Not a lot changes eh…?

    Oliver Cromwell, April 20th 1653, dismissing the Rump Parliament-

    “It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonoured by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money; is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? is there one vice you do not possess? ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter’d your conscience for bribes? is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth? ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil’d this sacred place, and turn’d the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d, are yourselves become the greatest grievance. Your country therefore calls upon me to cleanse this Augean stable, by putting a final period to your iniquitous proceedings in this House; and which by God’s help, and the strength he has given me, I am now come to do; I command ye therefore, upon the peril of your lives, to depart immediately out of this place; go, get you out! Make haste! Ye venal slaves be gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors. In the name of God, go!”

    I’ve already picked out a few lamp posts….

  • DC

    But the fact is that Paisley’s vision for Northern Ireland never came into fruition and he accepted a political apparatus that he always refused until recently. That particular philosophical stance for Unionism became bust, so all the other inappropriate things Jnr did, and in some ways Paisley Snr too, has made it all the more baffling as to what the DUP are all about. The Paisleys are a blur politically.

    As for Peter Robinson, always keen for power-sharing, another ruthless character with unlikeable traits who has shown many of the same opportunistic grabs as Paisley Jnr, he may provide a more coherent leadership in an economic way.

    Whether he will get those in the DUP together to come round to a Northern Ireland of his choice is another thing, coupled with the Assembly’s more socialist leaning political partners.

    But in essence the DUP are a joke, they neither got it right to the real standard that they wanted or at least professed to want while all the same ran down the very institutions when being reformed and renewed by others. Now they will have to build up public confidence and credit which in the end will mean that they wasted probably about 20 years in doing so.

    The deal started back in 1996 and adverse reaction to such dealings means that they infact got it wrong because they failed to anticipate correctly the necessary reform required for Northern Ireland to become politically acceptable. DUP offered a strategy that got them so far within unionism and it has diminished as the DUP have gone deeper into government with SF than would have happened with the UUP and SDLP.

    In the end my dislike is for the time wasted and political stunts all of which were engineered as meaningful but the reality is the British and Irish governments have delivered them into a new Northern Ireland. This is why they stand out conspicously as being a totally opportunistic party because the former political philosophy which held the party is disintegrating.

    The DUP will have to move into a new direction if they want the power of that an acceptable Stormont brings, but they will need to run up confidence. In doing so expect to see a DUP that has much of the old unionism removed via attrition of having to run acceptable policies through new all-Ireland and mandatory coalition channels.

  • As cromwell said…says

    Indeed DC, but their timing to make the deal publicly was impeccable.

  • DC

    Did anyone actually see the DUP agree to St Andrews or the follow ons, perhaps a faint nod was visible prior to the return of devolution.

    No doubt much of the refractory elements of the DUP core vote will go to Allister but that shift will not bring a change just run down time of those generations to the point that new life can think differently without them.

    It really goes back to the 70s, while appreciating the fury of IRA violence which would cause many a bitter diatribe, that notwithstanding, the DUP’s strategy of division has been come at cost and that is bending those who had hopes dashed, gotten under a faulty DUP strategy, to the political reality.

    The pain on Trimble’s face told it all, but rather than laugh at it with political attacks the DUP should have realised that the responsible attitude would be to condition for that change.

    But then Paisley wouldn’t have got his place as First Minister nor up the heady heights of his Church and loyal order. As he comes to the end he can forsake these things now as he himself has experienced all the joys of riding high albeit on false hopes.

    We the people must now deal with reality which doesn’t have much time for the antics of the Paisleys sideshows, and even less for Seymour Sweeney. That’s the problem for the wider-DUP. Building up the appropriate confidence in order to deliver a workable Stormont and NI, after their leader knocked it for years.

  • Chuckle Vision

    In an interview on Good Morning Ulster, Jeffrey says he would be honoured to be offered the vacant post.

  • Ahem

    The reason why Robinson *has* to get rid of Paisley senior too is that he is now a permanent liability to Unionism. Putting it no stronger than this, any time Whitehall wants to decapitate Paisley, they now readily have the ‘ethics’ stuff with which to do so. Which in turn means Paisley – who, senile as he is, knows full well that the government can cut him off at the kness whenever it wants – either has to, truckle under, or get knifed. Now Whitehall will be reluctant to do this as of course a terminally compromised Paisley is a much more compliant prospect than First Minister Robinson. But that’s the thing: Robinson doesn’t merely anymore just owe it to his own ambition to step up, he owes it to Unionism. Either we end with a capable, self-confident leader, or we stick with the tame goat we’ve got. Either Robinson’s got what it takes, or he’s yet another Eden/Major/Gore figure – stunted in the shadow he grew up in.

  • Paul P

    Who would SF,UUP and JA want as First Minister?

  • gaelgannairne

    BBC Raidió nan Gaidheal called Iain Junior ‘Iain Òg’ on the ‘Aithris Na Maidne’ early morning program.

    Imagine is Seamas McKee or Conor Bradford called him Iain Óg!!!!

  • Ahem

    I’d suggest, from the point of view of the two nationalist parties, the least competent Unionist possible must surely, cynically, be who they want as Paisley’s successor as First Minister. Which of course means that the UUP is faced with a slightly more complex set of emotions. Direct, narrow self-interest might suggest also a desire to see the least capable DUPer possible take over, but then there is the wider sense of obligation to the well-being of Unionism tout court. In which case, what do the UUP want for the future of Unionism? Continued fragmentation, or, an eventual reconciliation of political Unionism? If they hold out hopes for the latter, who, if anyone, is big enough in the post-Paisley DUP to move Unionism as a whole towards that highly desirable end? For a variety of reasons, I’d argue it’s Robinson, and I’d also make the case that intelligent nationalist politicians are already worried about what First Minister Robinson will mean for them.

  • Ahem, perhaps Unionists (and others) have had enough of ‘garden grabbing‘ and wouldn’t trust Robbo and his property developing associates.

    What a lucky boy he was to make the move before his DUP colleague, Arlene Foster, moved to tighten up the regulations!!

  • joeCanuck

    To be fair, Nevin, he didn’t do anything illegal or even marginal.

  • Not illegal, but hypocritical perhaps…

    I give you the Rt Hon Peter Robinson MP MLA speaking in the Assembly on Monday 1st July 2002.

    “I trust that the debate that Dr Adamson has launched will bring to the Minister’s attention Members’ serious concerns about what could set a precedent not only for east Belfast, but for the entire city. Attractive residential areas will lose their character because of the intrusion of apartment blocks. Once one is permitted in the back garden of one house, what is the case for refusing it in the back garden of another?”

    http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/record/reports/020701f.htm#11

    Or what he said on Monday 2nd July 2001 in a debate on the Regional Development Strategy…

    “I am appalled by the number of applications for high- density apartment developments, almost invariably to be built in existing residential areas where one or two houses will be knocked down with perhaps 10 or 20 being built in their place.”

    http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/record/reports/010702f.htm

    Gardens are, for the moment, included in the definition of previously developed land/ brownfield.