Philip Hammond MP, Civil Servant Bonuses, and Glass Houses

July 6, 2008

Philip Hammond, MP attacks bonuses of senior civil servants. The News of the World attacks Mr Hammond for concealing bonuses. Stone throwing and glass houses comes to mind

Philip Hammond has been diligently pursuing his job as shadow Treasury secretary

He recently attacked the bonuses reported to have been paid to senior civil servants [July 5th 2008].

The BBC reported Mr Hammond as saying

“Many families who are finding themselves squeezed between stagnant earnings and soaring living costs will be horrified by the use of £128m of taxpayers’ money to pay bonuses to civil servants ..With government failing on so many fronts, this looks like a ‘something for nothing’ culture.”

The attack felt rather righteously indignant, so I delved more into Mr. Hammond’s political career and interests. A bright, youngish figure with an earlier career in industry. An enthusiastic seeker after truth via written questions.

Overall, a consistent picture of someone positioned on what used to be called the right-wing of the party. Which still gave something of a false note to his current foray into the headlines.

A hair-shirt figure?
His recorded expenses claimed were those of a parsimonious MP. I decided that here was a hair-shirt figure, careful to avoid inflated expense claims. Admirably suited to attack others in such matters.

That was my conclusion, until I came across another recent storyabout Philip Hammond. Two weeks ago, News of the World reporters Ian Kirby and Alex Clarke splashed with:

One of David Cameron’s most senior Shadow Cabinet colleagues has received nearly £3 million without declaring it to Parliament.
The News of the World can reveal how Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Philip Hammond banked the massive sum from a property company he owns. But he failed to tell the official Register of Members’ Interests.

Hammond, who is Tory Chancellor George Osborne’s right-hand man, used a technical loophole to avoid making the payout public.
Yet only on Friday he accused Labour ministers of “living on a different planet from ordinary hard-working families struggling with soaring living costs.”

Meanwhile, Hammond has been quietly banking £2,741,788 without telling the Commons. And last night a Shadow Cabinet member admitted: “This is politically damaging for us. “Millionaires can’t preach about how poor ordinary people are. David Cameron needs this like a hole in the head—it brings back the whole idea of patronizing, millionaire Tories who are only out for themselves.”

Which just goes to show

Which just goes to show that Mr. Hammond might be better in another role, in which he would not risk his remarks being taking hostages to fortune. Shadow minister for enterprise perhaps?

Acknowledgements

Tom Watson MP, whose blog drew attention to less transparent aspects of Mr. Hammond’s activities.