Spelthorne? Moorlands?

David Witshire MP

 

David Wiltshire, Conservative Member of Parliament for Spelthorne will be sitting outside the headmaster’s study this morning.

Mr Wiltshire set-up a company called Moorlands Research Services and funded it using Parliamentary expenses – or to put it more accurately, paid the company to do work for him, using his expenses. The company which  is not registered in the United Kingdom received over £100,000 in three years. Apparently the company was set up by himself to provide “administrative, secretarial and research”– for him. The only other director of the company was Ms Ann Palmer – Mr Wiltshire’s partner. Unfortunately, there are no further company records because the company was never registered.

The claims for serices provided by Moorlands were designated as “office” expenses so they did not fall under Sir Thomas Legg’s remit.

The claim by both directors is that neither received any money from the company and that accounts were submitted to the Inland Revenue. If neither of them received any money, presumably there is a bank account somewhere with about £100,000 in it – although it can easily be checked if Mrs Palmer received an income because she was Moorlands’ Office Manager. It would be interesting to see whether any corporation tax has been paid by this company and on what basis the Inland Revenue accepted the filing of the accounts.

Moorlands Research Services was not registered at Companies House so the first question that Mr Wiltshire will be asked to answer is whether the “company” was a LIMITED company or whether it was the “trading style” of another company. Or perhaps it was merely a sheet of headed notepaper or a book of invoices. The second question is equally simple – who worked for Moorlands Research Services and what administrative or research duties did they perform? There are bound to be reports and other projects completed by this company – otherwise, why the invoices? Lastly, do any other Members of Parliament employ similar companies?

So far, Mr Wiltshire has refused to comment but instead has called for the Parliamentary watchdog to launch an inquiry. Let us hope that this case is kept out of the long grass because if there in ANY suggestion that “bent” invoices have been used to extract  money from the taxpayer, the police should be called-in as soon as possible.

Spelthorne, Mr Wiltshire’s constituency is south-west of London. Interestingly though, his designated main residence is in Somerset. He is a former Tory Whip and has the largest expenses claim of any of the 11 Surrey MPs. In the last five years,  he has claimed more than £100,000 on a Westminster flat which is less than 15 miles from where he lives.

Mr Wiltshire has been the joint highest Parliamentary claimant of the Additional Cost Allowance, having achieved joint-first position in four out of the last five years. He has voted and has been strongly against the external auditing of MPs’ expenses.

This looks like one of those slow-burning stories with legs. 

 

  • Gordon Brown has said that Royal Mail will suffer long-term damage if the postal strike goes ahead. The PM’s amazing business insight never fails. That’s yet another “No shit, Sherlock” moment from the Prime Minister. The Communication Workers Union (CWU) will be making an announcement later today.

 

  • The Dow Jones Index has broken through the 10,000 barrier and has re-entered its pre-banking collapse range. This has happened primarily as a result of JP Morgan declaring unusual and unexpectedly high profits. The American bank rose in value by 5.36% yesterday. All Stock Markets are awash with money at the moment , yet there is still some unease, primarily because  nothing seems to have changed – either from an operational  or legislative point of view. Banker bonuses are still a difficult-to-swallow fact of life, as are the meaningless and pointless posturings of the regulators. Let’s hope that we’re not all being mesmerised by yet another multi-coloured rapidly inflating bubble.

 

  • The National Health Service is back on the government’s radar. One in eight NHS Trusts have to improve their standards of care as soon as possible or they risk serious sanctions. The Care Quality Commission is setting some pretty tough targets and standards for all NHS Trusts but the really worrying thing is that as from April 2010, the CQC will have the legal power to walk into any Trust and shut it down. The Royal Cornwall Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is currently receiving the most scrutiny. The management has already been replaced twice – with no improvement in performance. It looks as if the government is looking for excuses. They screwed up the education system through the application of targets and now they are repeating the act with the NHS. As a whole, the NHS is performing excellently with waiting times probably already down to the minimum. The Education/NHS analogy is a valid one  because one thing that affects the performance of both hospitals and schools is he often-debated subject of demographics. Inner-city schools with pupils from poor backgrounds compete with new schools in rich leafy suburbs. Hospital Trusts such as those in the South West which tend to care-for an older population cannot compete for instance, with a London Teaching Hospital. Different punters with different issues. Currently there are 47 NHS Trusts whose performance is considered to be below-par. They will not be able to up their game whilst looking over their shoulders. No doubt the ugly grasping shadow of a thousand Management Consultants costing millions will soon fall on these trusts. They will fiddle with admin and management, they will produce beautifully-bound reports and they will totally demoralise a staff already on its knees. Meanwhile, the Government will be drooling and rubbing its sweaty palms together in eager anticipation of the impending fire-sale.

 

Leave a Reply