Friday, 5 June 2009

Drummer boy for Metrix John Smith told to resign

Labour MP told to resign over £57k expenses claim
WalesOnline - United Kingdom
VALE of Glamorgan Labour MP John Smith last night faced a call for his resignation after it was alleged he claimed nearly £58000 in second home expenses ...

Following a rule change in April 2008 that required receipts for expenditure over £25, he submitted London home claims for £231 from Ikea and £140 from homeware store The Range, both from branches in Cardiff.

The Ikea receipt reveals he claimed £11.98 on a Njuta bath robe, £7.99 for a Skanka pan, £90 for Lycksele Murbo mattress, two £7.99 Hultet beaded drapes and £4.99 on a rimless picture frame with clips.

His claim from The Range included £69.99 on a set of table and chairs, £3.49 on an "onion garland" and £15.49 on a print by artist Cory Silken called Rugosa.

Mr Smith also twice attempted to claim the cost of Christmas cards on his office expenses. He first tried to bill the £295 cost of seasonal cards in November 2004 but was rejected by House of Commons officials.

He tried again for £305 the following year and was again rejected.

However, he successfully claimed £352.50 in legal bills for a dispute over his constituency office rent, submitting an invoice from a firm of solicitors in Caerphilly.

John Smith

Job: Labour MP for Vale of Glamorgan

Salary: £64,766

Total second home claims

2004-05: £20,620

2005-06: £20,862

2006-07: £22,110

2007-08: £23,083

Total expenses

2007-08: £148,514

Rate of attendance at votes: 48 per cent

Vale MP John Smith defends himself over expenses allegations
Barry and District News - Wales,UK
By Elinor Cross » VALE MP John Smith has defended himself against allegations that he exploited the mps' expenses system, after details of his claims were ...

Vale MP fights for his reputation after expenses allegations

Glamorgan Gem - ‎5 hours ago‎
VALE MP John Smith is under attack after a newspaper story alleging that he had claimed almost £58000 over four years, without submitting receipts. ...

MPs' expenses: John Smith claimed £57,955 without submitting a single receipt

Telegraph...An MP claimed £57,955 in second home expenses in four years without submitting a single receipt.

John Smith, a Labour backbencher, took advantage of generous allowances to claim an average of £14,488 a year – more than the average salary of a minimum wage worker– without providing evidence of any spending.

When he eventually made a claim backed up by a receipt, it was for home furnishings including a vase, a frying pan, a bath robe, beaded drapes and poster art.

Enemies of the People2009 New Labour M.P. John SmithPARASITE
2009 New Labour M.P. John SmithPARASITE. An MP claimed £57955 in second home expenses in four years without submitting a single receipt ...
MPs expenses John Smith claimed £57955 without submitting a single ...
MPs expenses John Smith claimed £57955 without submitting a single receipt. An MP claimed £57955 in second home expenses in four years without submitting a ...

MP John Smith defends himself over expenses allegations

7:40am Thursday 4th June 2009

VALE MP John Smith has defended himself against allegations that he exploited the MPs’ expenses system, after details of his claims were published in a national newspaper.

The Sunday Telegraph reported that Mr Smith claimed £86,675 in additional costs expenses over four years – nearly £60,000 of them without the submission of receipts.

The Vale MP did submit receipts for poster art, a bath robe and beaded drapes, according to the article, and claimed £57,955 in running costs without receipts for a London flat over four years. The allegations came two weeks after Mr Smith announced he was standing down at the next election for health reasons.

The Telegraph reported that the MP took advantage of an allowance scheme which, until April last year, entitled ministers to claim the following per month without a receipt: £400 for groceries, £250 for utility bills, £250 for telephone bills, £250 for cleaning, £250 for service and maintenance, and £250 for repairs and insurance.

It was alleged that a House of Commons official wrote to Mr Smith in 2007 to ask if he would submit more specific claims rather than nominal sums. He said: “Ideally we would expect members to claim for actual amounts and not nominal sums.”

According to the Telegraph, Mr Smith continued to claim this way for nine more months – however, Mr Smith denies this.

The MP was also criticised for his attendance at parliament, showing up to only 48 per cent of votes and speaking in only 10 debates in 2007/8 despite claiming £148,514 in overall expenses for that year.

A spokesperson for Mr Smith denied any wrongdoing.

He said: “Mr Smith is devastated and repudiates allegations that he has exploited the parliamentary expenses system following an article in the Sunday Telegraph, which has appeared since he announced his retirement on health grounds two weeks ago.

“Historically, Mr Smith has been one of the lowest claimants of parliamentary expenses.

“He does not own a second home, he has never claimed for any luxury goods and all the money he has claimed over the years has gone towards meeting the cost of living and working in London, and not for personal gain.

“Mr Smith is committed to transparency and will publish his expenses in full, as soon as is practicable. “A number of allegations were made in the Sunday Telegraph which he did not have an opportunity to respond to,” added the spokesman.

“Mr Smith was accused of claiming Additional Cost Allowance between 2004 and 2008 without submitting receipts.

“Under the rules at the time, no receipts were required and all Mr Smith’s claims were cleared by the Commons Authority and were within the existing rules.

“Contrary to what was alleged in the newspaper article, in July 2007, when the Commons Authority wrote to Mr Smith informing him that he could no longer continue to claim in this way, he immediately changed his claims to meet the new requirements.”

He continued: “In April 2008 Mr Smith moved to an unfurnished bedsit in Pimlico and purchased some modestly priced items of furniture, including a table and two chairs and a sofa bed, and submitted receipts as required under further rule changes.

“Not all the items on the receipts referred to in the newspaper article were claimed for.

“Contrary to what was said in the Telegraph, it is untrue that Mr Smith submitted a bill for legal costs over a dispute with the landlord over his constituency office – in actual fact this was a standard commercial charge for drawing up a lease.”

In response to calls by Plaid Cymru parliamentary candidate for the Vale, Dr Ian Johnson, for Mr Smith to stand down immediately, the spokesman added: “It seems that political opponents in the Vale of Glamorgan are trying to damage Mr Smith’s reputation by linking the timing of his retirement announcement with the expenses furore.

“Nothing could be further from the truth – Mr Smith has been advised by his doctor not to stand for re-election, and he is following that advice.”


Geoff Hoon of privatise the army fame amongst many of his sins

Geoff Hoon resigns as pressure mounts on Gordon Brown - Telegraph

5 Jun 2009 ... Geoff Hoon has become the fifth Cabinet minister to resign in a week as Gordon Brown battles to maintain his authority.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Shame on OU and Nord Anglia

Shame on OU accrediting arms dealers courses courses

MoD Apprentices questions HOC

MoD Apprentices
Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the package of delivery designed by Metrix for the Defence Training Review project will offer apprenticeships to the (a) standards and (b) accreditation delivered by the Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering; and what provision will be made in the package for apprenticeship training to an accredited standard. [262635]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: As part of the requirement for the Defence Training Review (DTR) Package 1, Metrix will transform and modernise existing training, which will involve the re-accreditation of any transformed modules. This re-accreditation will be led by Nord Anglia, the Open university and City and Guilds, who are all respected and leading accreditation specialists. For the Defence college of Aeronautical Engineering, and all the technical training under Package 1, any existing accreditation will remain in place until a re-designed package is approved by the Ministry of Defence, which includes any proposals for changes to apprenticeship training.

All Defence training (including accreditation implications) must adhere to a robust and established change process under the Defence systems approach to training to approve any change, and meet stringent defence and Government policy guidelines. The Department is recognised as an example of good practice with respect to apprenticeships and remains committed to maintaining this reputation.

Armed Forces: Training
Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of the Defence Training Review package he expects to be delivered outside the future Defence Academy at RAF St Athan. [262500]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: All of the training in the scope of the Defence Training Review Package 1 will, by 2020, be delivered at St. Athan, with the exception of Royal Naval Communications training at HMS Collingwood which amounts to 2 per cent. of the total training requirement. In addition, about 30 per cent. of phase 3 (professional) training will be delivered away from St. Athan at remote learning centres around the UK to enable personnel to stay near home bases and families.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

John Smith Pork Barrelling

John Smith (Vale of Glamorgan, Labour) | Hansard source | Video match this

Will my right hon. Friend assure me that any discussions that he has about central funding and the mechanism used do not undervalue the role of defence expenditure in projects such as the defence technical academy in my constituency at St. Athan? Will he join me in welcoming the news that the joint director for technical training in the military is going to move to St. Athan in April, in anticipation of the construction of the new college?

(On the 1st April I presume?)

Photo of Paul MurphyPaul Murphy (Secretary of State, Wales Office; Torfaen, Labour) | Hansard source | Video match this

Of course I will, and I congratulate my hon. Friend on his tenacity in dealing with this issue. Billions of pounds of public spending will come to his constituency and the surrounding constituencies, and I know that he has played a very significant role in ensuring that that is the case.

Monday, 23 February 2009

tory leader on st athan pfi

Tory leader Cameron addresses Barry public
Barry and District News, UK - 21 Feb 2009

When asked about the suitability of American contractors bidding for St Athan, he replied: "We have a close relationship with America. The government has made a complete mess of the contract - they have struggled to put one foot in front of the other.

"But the last thing we need to do is launch a wave of nationalism."

more recent news

Politicians at war over St Athan defence training academy
WalesOnline, United Kingdom - 19 Feb 2009
FEARS over “Olympics-style” spiralling costs at the £13bn Defence Technical Academy have been raised by politicians in a furious row over the St Athan-based ...

Armed forces' £12bn PFI training plan 'jeopardised by economic crisis', United Kingdom - 8 Feb 2009
A £12 billion plan to contract out armed forces training, in the Government's biggest ever private finance initiative, has been jeopardised by the economic ...
Credit crisis puts £12bn MoD training project in jeopardy, UK - 8 Feb 2009
The government's biggest private finance initiative, a multibillion-pound plan to hive-off training for the armed forces, is in trouble, subject to delays, ...

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Misleading DTR coverage

Last week the BBC published an article about the Defence Training Review (DTR). It was entitled '£12bn military academy 'on track'. The article was quite biased and lacking in research. Chris Ames sums it up very well here. Chris Ames (also runs the Iraq dossier website.)

Back to the article which doesn’t mention that the project is already delayed and over budget nor the fact that Qinetiq, the equal equity partner along with Sodexho, are themselves experiencing difficulties. See the following articles:
The Cost of Privatisation
Qinetiq Prepares to Tighten Finances

I won’t go into whether or not the 5000 jobs figure is accurate, but that number of ‘new’ jobs won’t be created at the base. The jobs are already held by Civil Servants around the country who will be expected to relocate to Wales or lose their jobs.

Many of the trainers will be unable to relocate to Wales and the loss of these skilled trainers will put Defence Training and front line troops at risk.

In addition to the above there is the question of putting the Defence of the United Kingdom in the hands of private companies that are ultimately out to make a profit for their shareholders. A further risk is that the companies involved may get taken over by a non-British organisation which could generate a conflict of interest between corporate aims and loyalties and national security.

You may also be interested in this article entitled ‘The Ministry and the Media'

Monday, 16 February 2009

supporter of Academy

I remain supportive of the principle of the Academy, especially as the
economic stimulus it would provide is much needed now.
However, as it is not a constituency issue, I am not
aware of the current details.

With regard to public sector investment, I am a keen supporter of public/private sector
partnerships. There is no debate scheduled but, if any significant events occur in
relation to it, there would bound to be a Ministerial statment.

Jenny Randerson

Thursday, 5 February 2009

John Smith MP drummer boy for METRIX

Parliamentary clash

Mark Pritchard continues to badger the government on the rising cost of DTR. He submitted a written question:

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the Secr etary of State for Defence on the implications for Wales of the defence training review programme

The reply from the government was:

The St. Athan Defence Training Academy is a very important project for Wales. The substantial investment of Package 1 will create thousands of direct and indirect jobs both during construction and from 2013, when construction is completed.

On the 28th January the following oral exchange was recorded in Hansard:

Mark Pritchard (Wrekin)

John Smith has claimed many times that hundreds of jobs will come to Wales as a result of the defence training review programme, but the programme has rising costs and increasing delays. Indeed, in his desperation, the hon. Gentleman visited the Prime Minister this week, even though the latter has given no assurance that the defence training review will go ahead in Wales. Do we not need an early statement from th e Secretary of State giving us the truth about the project and its rising costs?

Paul Murphy (Secretary of State, Wales Office)

I have had no indication at all that there will be any change of plan as far as that huge investment in Wales is concerned. The Government are committed to it but I am sure that, when the time com es, there will be a proper statement to this House of Commons.

John Smith (Vale of Glamorgan)

Does my right hon. Friend agree that employment levels in south Wales will be greatly improved by the 5,000 jobs brought to the area by the defence technical academy? Does he also agree that it is about time that Opposition Members stopped knocking the project and began pulling together to ensure that it is brought in on time and within budg et?

Paul Murphy (Secretary of State, Wales Office)

That is what we all like to hear. My hon. Friend has been a great champion of the project. When those jobs come to Wales, it will be as a result of the biggest single Government investment in Wales ever.

Clearly John Smith is still playing his role of drummer boy for METRIX, but his figures are as credible as his knowledge of defence training. John Smith recently talked about the need to get away from “chalk and talk” training- it shows how little he knows about the modern training environment. PCS believes not only do his 5,000 jobs include over a 1,000 military posts- which to the public are hardly countable, but also many of the jobs Smith continually mentions are transitory jobs created during the build phase.