Maria Miller should resign or be sacked

It is shocking that Cameron, who has repeatedly said in the past that he is cleaning up on MPs’ expenses, now says he is giving “very warm support” to Maria Miller, the disgraced secretary of state for culture, media and sport.   Miller, a haughty Tory lady of the grande dame variety, became an MP in 2005 and designated a house in Wimbledon as her second home (and thus eligible under parliamentary expenses) on the grounds that she spent most of her time in a rented house in her constituency (Basingstoke).   She then made claims for 4 years on the Wimbledon home, but stopped claiming when the expenses scandal broke in 2009.   The Commons committee on standards in their report just published found that she had over-claimed on her mortgage.   The standards commissioner, Kathryn Hudson, recommended that Miller be made to pay back more than £44,000.   The Commons committee on standards, for reasons not disclosed, did not support Hudson’s recommendation.   Instead they merely criticised Miller for frustrating the investigation for over a year by declining to give direct answers to questions about her claims for taxpayers’ money.   They ordered her to repay just £5,800.   Then to cap it all, her ‘apology’ to the House of Commons yesterday which was minimalist (30 seconds), did not even mention the money she had been ordered to repay, and from her manner clearly lacked sincerity.

One has to ask why the Commons standards committee took such a lenient view.   Kathryn Hudson had made the case that Miller claimed for mortgage interest against a mortgage significantly larger than one required to purchase her property.   She also further increased her mortgage without the Commons authorities knowing this or agreeing to it.   And Hudson also added that she should not have designated her London home as her second home.   Miller also, with typical arrogance, also challenged Hudson’s right to seek details about her mortgage.

So why did the Commons standards committee not back their own commissioner’s report?   On 13 December 2012 the Commons committee on standards and privileges was replaced by a committee on standards and a separate committee of privileges.   The same MPs are members of both committees, but the committee on Standards has 3 additional lay members.   The members of this committee are: Kevin Barron (chair, Labour), Paul Beresford (Tory), Robert Buckland (Tory), Christopher Chope (Tory), Tom Clarke (Labour), Geoffrey Cox (Tory), Sharon Darcy (lay), Nick Harvey (LibDem), Peter Jinman (lay), Walter Rader (lay), Helen Wheeler (Tory), and Alan Whitehead (Labour).   Thus there are 5 Tory members, 3 Labour, 1 LibDem, and 3 lay members.   It would be interesting to know how they divided in their opinions.

This is not the first time that questions have been asked about the judgements of this committee.   The former Labour MP Denis McShane was prosecuted for wrongly claiming £12,000 (which he repaid) while the LibDem MP David Laws falsely claimed £40,000 which, as was said at the time, “went straight into the pocket of his partner”.   Yet whereas was forced to resign his seat and faces imprisonment, Laws is now back in government.   McShane was the subject of a damning report by the Commons standards and privileges committee (referred to by Private Eye as ‘the double standards committee’) and it seems clear that the Crown Prosecution Service, having previously told McShane that he would face no further action, changed its mind solely on the basis of the standards and privileges committee report.

Some searching questions are in order about this committee: how it is chosen, what influences are brought to bear on it, on what grounds it disowns its own commissioner’s reports, and how it appears to reach such inconsistent judgements.

9 thoughts on “Maria Miller should resign or be sacked

  1. It should go further. Any ‘normal’ person who fiddled benefits or stole this money would have had the book thrown at them. This should have resulted, as should any MP or Lord caught like this with a criminal prosecution and the real possibility of jail time. There was a committee just last week on voter engagement, why don’t more people take part in the process any more?

    Well here is a prime example. They are fed up that when this sort of thing happens, MPs are treated with the kid gloves approach. There are no real consequences for her except she had to give a 32 second apology and pay back some of the money.

    This would not happen to a benefits cheat, and yes they are in the same class, it is taxpayers money all the same.

    They are fed up and feel it doesn’t matter who they vote for as nothing changes, you still have greedy MPs trying it on. Yes they may say sorry, eventually, as it shouldn’t have taken an inquiry to tell her to apologise if she was truly sorry. In truth though many feel they are only actually sorry they got caught, as no doubt it would have continued if they hadn’t.

    At the very least as an ultimate penalty she should have been removed there and then for gross misconduct.

  2. On the other hand the more the PM and her colleagues defend her position the more votes will go from the Conservative party to UKIP. The audience reaction Question Time TV this week demonstrated the gulf between them and the politicians on the panel.

  3. “Maria Miller should resign or be sacked?”

    Gosh; do really think so?

    In fact she should be prosecuted.

    It is quite impossible in the current climate, (and even more impossible when you’ve actually read the details of her clearly dishonest financial arrangements,) to believe that this was just yet another accident or misunderstanding.

    The fact that it was deliberate makes it criminal.

    It isn’t even as if she has the excuse of being gay, (which is apparently a well know cause of personal and financial dishonesty; although I hadn’t known that before David Light-Fingered Laws explained that, he wasn’t in fact the crook that we believed him be, he was simply a homosexual and we needed to understanding more and to condemn less.

    But this is in fact relatively trivial, (even the fact that Ms Miller has apparently profited from her dishonesty to the tune of about 1.4 million pounds,) when contrasted with complete lack of all consequence or accountability enjoyed by all the people responsible for the many premature and unnecessary deaths at Mid Satffs, (perhaps as many as 1200, although this is strongly disputed and regime of neglect abuse and managerial indifference which is not, that prevailed there under his management,) from David Nicholson down.

    And so on and so on and so on…………..

  4. its a brian fix isn’t it two laws one for us one for you it seems how much fiddling goes on its a mistake ones does isn’t life strange yet if someone deems those plebbs on welfare get over their share its march them off seargent major isn’t life strange two laws I didn’t fiddle and you aint looking at my books is her reply get lost but further down the line you naughty girl you mistook your mortgage yep mistook isn’t it strange she has made a misstake but even that cant make her blush cams sais shes ok yes hes warm with her whot whot old boy it seems life is strange in tory circles were fiddling the books isn’t a matter of throw away the key yes we new two laws survive in Britain today tory old norman law and ours the yoke yes not a joke jeff3

  5. Miller should be made to pay back ythe full £90,000 plus interest, at 12.5% from the time of her claim up to date. As she didn’t pay a penny back yet thatwill be a big slice of her £1 million profit, doubling her payback and be stripped of her pension. Also be prosecuted for fraud in public office, along with a spell in jail. That should sort her out.

  6. Ah but, Michael Meacher MP, this is ‘democracy’ – the finest in the world we are told and this is what our precious hard won vote underpins and validates at polling time, each and every time, no matter which political party seizes power in the fight to get to the freebies trough. There is no accountability, no transparency, no sanctioning of offenders in a way that makes it clear to the voting public that ‘high standards’ of office will be maintained. All we see is the closing of the ‘hierarchal rank’. The enormous sums that are lost to the british public in this manner are ‘seized’ by brutal cuts to so called welfare and vicious sanctions on the unemployed. I don’t want democracy, I want a fair society.

  7. Why should anyone living in Basingstoke need a second home in London just because they work there? Our wonderful privatised railways run fast and frequent services between the two places. This “need” for a second home is the “Eric Pickles” syndrome.

  8. This is a clear case of dishonesty, theft,and fraud. Why should a person be allowed to be above the law simply because of position ? If I or any of my work colleagues stole from my employer by filling in false claims for expenses for lunch or petrol or stole stationary we would be sacked from our job in the least.If the theft/fraud was on such a level that it ran into more than a few pounds never mind thousands we would definitely be prosecuted and probably jailed.Yet again the Tory blather that we are all in this together is clearly meant to mean one rule for us and another for you.The more the party take this line the less likely they are to have another term in government .Thank goodness I say .The British public are beginning to get a bit sick of pulling in their belts whilst.those that govern pull the wool over our eyes and bleed the coffers of the public purse dry.Prosecute and make an example of this lady. Stop allowing mps to self govern. .They are public servants accountable to those they serve.or they should be

  9. Clear case of wrongdoing ,the police can easily find out where she was living , where her children were living and attending School.
    If anyone had clearly made false representations they would be in court ,why are the police not investigating for misuse of public funds.
    All this demonising people on benefits as scroungers and cheats this lady gained over a million pounds from this and mps are supposed to be setting an example to others, pigs in the trough and most of them in Westminister seem to be in there so nothing is being done.
    When the chattering classes commit fraud it is a mistake or oversight when the working class do this they are put in prison and subject to poca laws to claim it all back

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