Monday, 24 November 2008

More unacceptable Tory behavior?

Chris Davies, a hard working MEP who is open about his expenses, has revealed more of the Tories wretched behavior:

'Yet again a North West Conservative MEP is in the news because of doubts over his use of parliamentary expenses.
This time it's David Sumberg, who was elected to serve the region in 1999 but who has since that date never lived anywhere other than in London.
The story immediately below has just appeared in The Sunday Times, but it stems from a letter I wrote to newspapers across the region last week (also below) in which I challenged David Sumberg to tell his constituents whether he had been claiming his full staff allowance for the past 10 years and, if so, what he had been doing with it.
Given the weaknesses within the parliamentary rules I think it possible for an MEP with no personal code of ethics, and no desire to use the money to promote their political and parliamentary work, to have added as much as £1.5 million to their family income over 10 years as compared to those of us who have actually used the money in full to pay for a hard working team of staff.This kind of practice has got to be stopped. It demeans the reputation of all of us in politics. It is an insult to the people we represent.
If you feel as strongly as I do about these matters then read the information below and put your views in a letter to your local paper.
With regards
Chris Davies MEP *********************************************************
MEP has no office in constituency but still claims £40,000 expenses**Sunday Times, November 23, 2008* ********************************************************
By Nicola Smith One of Britain's least active MEPs has been receiving more than £40,000 a year for office expenses despite having no office in his constituency. David Sumberg, a Conservative MEP for the North West of England, has already declared he pays £54,000 a year for secretarial support from his wife. Since the current European parliament was elected in 2004, Sumberg has made just two set-piece speeches and 12 one-minute "explanations of votes". He has tabled five questions and sits on a committee but has not written any of its reports or tabled any resolutions.
"If there was a competition for laziest MEP in Britain I don't doubt he would make the shortlist," said Chris Davies, a Liberal Democrat MEP who also represents the North West. Sumberg, 67, who is standing down at elections next year, is entitled to a staff allowance, currently EUR203,000 (£171,000) a year, from which his wife Carolyn is paid. He is also entitled to a £40,800 general expenditure allowance for office costs and travel, and £242 a day for hotels and food on top of his £61,820 salary. In April, he declared he paid Carolyn £54,000 a year. He said this weekend this fell to £30,000-£39,999 from September 2008.
Until last Friday, his website gave a wrong constituency office number. A woman who answered suggested calling North West Conservative Campaigns Centre, where an official said: "We don't see him that often." Sumberg said: "The North West office acts as a forwarding address. In common with many other MEPs, I have office facilities in my house." Sumberg declined to say if any of the £40,800 was used for his home in Kentish Town, north London, 200 miles from the region he represents. If it was, this would break no rules. He added: "There is no requirement for an MEP to maintain an office in the constituency." Parliamentary rules say the £40,800 is for use in an MEP's home country for "office management and running costs".
Sumberg's decision not to maintain an office in the northwest was described as an "insult" to voters by Davies, who added: "David Sumberg represents a region of 7 million people, bigger than 10 member states of the European Union. "Most people would expect an MEP in receipt of such generous expenses would maintain an office in a region of this importance." Sumberg last week declined to say if he had received the full staff allowance, out of which Carolyn was paid. He said she was "a fully qualified secretary, who holds a master's degree in applied translation studies". On his workload, he said: "It is not for me to comment on my effectiveness as an MEP." ***********************************************
Letter from Chris Davies sent to North West newspapers **(18 November 2008)
Dear Sir
Den Dover, a Conservative MEP for North West England, has been reported by the European Parliament to the anti-fraud office in Brussels after it was found that he had paid £758,000 over seven years to a company run by his wife and daughter.
The Parliament has demanded the return (initially) of £500,000, while the Conservative Party has withdrawn its whip and taken Mr Dover off its list of candidates. The sums involved are staggering.
Last February I revealed details of a secret auditors' report into malpractice over the use of money intended for the payment of MEPs' staff. Since then all the main British political parties have insisted on greater transparency. I hope this will mean that voters in the European elections next June can have confidence that all candidates are in future committed to high standards of financial probity.
I invite another one of our North West Conservative MEPs to make his position clear.David Sumberg was elected to the European Parliament in 1999 at the same time as myself. He has lived since then in London, which to my mind is an insult to the 7 million people he represents. His North West office address is merely that of Conservative HQ. He has made just one formal two-minute speech in the Parliament since 2004, and has tabled on his own initiative just three questions.
The total allowance available to every MEP for the employment of staff and the payment of office expenses has since 1999 well exceeded £1 million. Will David Sumberg tell us how much of this he has claimed, who he has employed, and where has been their place of work? He declares in the parliamentary register of interests that he employs someone to provide 'media services', yet his website shows that he has distributed only two press releases in the past three years. Maybe their job is to stop him being noticed!
Yours faithfully
Chris Davies
Liberal Democrat MEP for the North West