Monday, 23 February 2009

We pay for this?

Uncle Devil's Kitchen covers a new report from the Taxpayer's Alliance on minister's in the European Parliament all being rather corrupt, having massive pay rises, at the same time as their economies are going down the tube. They know about it, but as they're we're paying them they're not doing anything about it.

The Galvin Report, named after Robert Galvin, the Internal Audit Official whose name is on its front cover, was written at the end of 2006 as an audit of the expenses and allowances claimed by a sample of more than 160 MEPs. The existence of the report was kept secret until February 2008 when news of its existence was made public by Chris Davies MEP. Even then, its contents remained secret and a select group of MEPs were only allowed to read the report individually in a locked and guarded room. Now published for the first time by the TaxPayers' Alliance, its findings include:

* Serious and repeated anomalies in payments for office assistance and services, including money being paid to seemingly irrelevant firms (including a creche and a company engaged in "the trading of wood"), and to companies which on further investigation did not exist, were untraceable or had registered no financial activity in their accounts. Some MEPs were found to be paying out their full assistance allowances, but had no assistants accredited or registered with the Parliament.

* A culture of huge "bonuses" being paid to staff members or handling firms at the end of the financial year, ranging from 3 times to 19 and a half times the employees' monthly salaries. Large "layoff" payments were also made to MEPs' staff without justification being provided.

* Loose rules which allow payments to be made without invoicing, and only require bills to be provided 12 months after payment. The audit found that less than 5% of audited accounts actually submitted the required documentation by that 12 month deadline.

* Widespread failure to comply with tax, company and social security laws. 79% of transactions that should have been subject to VAT displayed no evidence of either VAT payment or exemption. 83% of the companies through which MEPs paid their allowances for office services failed in their legal obligation to register with the Belgian national company database. 90% of contracts for self-employed staff had no evidence of legally required social security payments being made. 26% of assistants and 64% of paying agent firms used to employee staff displayed no evidence of social security payments being made.

* Evidence of MEPs using their allowances and expenses to bankroll their political parties is also revealed. Many MEPs make set monthly payments to their own political party for secretarial support, but receive varying numbers of staff in return, which raises questions over whether the payments are really simply donations. Some MEPs are found to be claiming for projects such as web sites that are actually promoting their political party rather than their work as an MEP.

When can we start setting fire to these people?

I'm pretty sure we didn't vote for them to get so much money, and indeed at every opportunity to vote on such matters the people of European Union and the UK have said no, yet still it happens.

Is it possible to cleanse with fire without going down the Reichstag route?

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