A shady scheme which would send £10,000s of office expenses the way of two parliamentary staffers has been shut down by Conservative Party enforcers. Westminster START intended to charge Conservative MPs £2,500 per year plus VAT to perform rudimentary staff management.

The initiative was developed by Sam Mackewn and the Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Women’s Organisation Eve Burt, both of whom work for (and the latter is married to) the party’s Deputy Chairman Alistair Burt MP. Enquiries from Private Eye as to whether “setting up a business to make money from the reformed expenses system” was appropriate clearly spooked CCHQ, who ordered that the plug be pulled.

The website, which features the Conservative tree logo several times, now states that Westminster START is “unable to continue operating … due to circumstances beyond our control”. At the time of writing, other pages, including the description of services, are still visible.

“We were trying to do something that made things easier for people”, Eve Burt told Bedfordshire on Sunday. Yes – easier for bone-idle Conservative MPs who would, over the course of prospective five-year parliaments, shell out nearly £15,000 of of taxpayers’ money to a private enterprise because they can’t be bothered to manage their staff.

It transpires Mrs. Burt has form for this kind of nonsense. Appearing on Channel 4 News in the wake of scandal engulfing Derek Conway and other MPs who employed close family members (cough), Burt defended the practice of Members employing staff who “happen to be related” to them:

There is an argument in favour of a centralised more professional approach to human resources within the Palace of Westminster and Portcullis House, including formal union recognition for MPs’ staff, but this should be done by Parliament – not by MPs and their wives are trying to find new ways to fleece taxpayers.

Some people evidently still don’t get it.

Hat-tip: to the anonymous reader that pointed us in the direction of this story. Got gossip? You can tip Scrapbook off here.

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