Friday, February 19, 2010

MPs Expense defence

So the latest wheeze from some MPs is that they can't be prosecuted for expense fraud as such transactions are covered by the 1688 Bill of Rights namely

That the Freedome of Speech and Debates or Proceedings in Parlyament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any Court or Place out of Parlyament
The logic they're trying to apply is that it counts as a "proceeding". Now the use of this document is a bit rich coming from a Parliament that gave us the "Proceeds of Crime Act". Here's how Wiltshire police describe it
Under the Proceeds of Crime Act, criminals can have their illegal earnings and possessions taken away – even if they are not convicted of the crimes they have committed.
Now what do we find three paragraphs down from the MPs excuse -
That all Grants and Promises of Fines and Forfeitures of particular persons before Conviction are illegall and void.
So they're convicting someone of possessing money obtained illegally, but haven't been able to convict them of the act where they supposedly obtained the money from. As I've said before the stance taken is that they can't prove they have the money/goods legally so it must be illegal. Now think how that works in this context - My parents bought a new television and passed on the old one to the neighbours who wanted another. As such the neighbours have no receipt that these goods were obtained legally, therefore they're illegal and the police can confiscate them if they choose. Yes it's unlikely, but still valid.

So once again we see MPs trying to do something they try to prevent us from doing, big surprise.


Don B said...

I was surprised that you didn't comment on Nicholas Winterton's outrageous comment reported in yesterday's Gurdian "... the new expenses culture at the House of Commons today, saying he was "infuriated" that MPs might no longer be able to claim for first-class train travel and complaining about the "totally different type of people" in standard class. ..." []

FlipC said...

Oh I'd missed that. What with the Conservatives banging on about Labour trying to turn the upcoming election into a non-existent 'class war' this sort of off-hand remark is priceless.

"So we are supposed to stand when there are no seats..." Well yes just like the rest of us, perhaps doing so will encourage them to take a closer look at the rail system.

Of course if he wasn't such an arse he could have said that he welcomed the move and that they could still claim back the cost of the economy ticket while paying for the first-class upgrade themselves. That would remove the need to justify it to a committee while still not totally penalising MPs.

I note he and his wife are standing down ;-)

Orphi said...

And here I was thinking that the law regards people as innocent until proven guilty. :-P

Still, I heard from my mother that apparently if you live with somebody who ends up so badly in debt that the balifs are sent in, they can confiscate your stuff too unless you can prove it's yours and not theirs. (Which I suppose is reasonable, if rather alarming.)

Pro-tip: Don't ever live with somebody who's likely to get a visit from the balifs. Or the maffia, by the way.

FlipC said...

It does, but like so much it's been abused until people think it doesn't.

No bailiffs can't seize property that doesn't belong to the debtor, actually that should read bailiffs shouldn't seize property that doesn't belong to the debtor. If they do the rightful owner can apply to have them returned; at which point, I bet, proof of ownership needs to be forthcoming.

Also worth pointing out the difference between a debt collector and a bailiff, bailiffs act under warrant or some other form of legal paper; debt collectors don't - they have ZERO power.

Orphi said...

Funny, just this morning I was reading on Wikipedia, the free, independently peer-verified encyclopedia, that criminal organisations bear a number of similarities to national governments…

FlipC said...

Oh I don't know, one's an organisation that takes money under threat and provides nebulous promises of service while the other... wait which one was I talking about again? ;-)