MPs’ expensive expenses

DETAILS OF MPs’ expenses are finally public after three years of stonewalling by the House of Commons. The Speaker, Michel Martin, spent £200,000 of public money attempting to block such details.

Dave Carr

After the Information Tribunal ruled that MPs make full disclosures of their Additional Costs Allowance, the Speaker went to the high court to block their release, only to lose. However, despite Freedom of Information requests for a full breakdown of MPs’ Incidental Expenses and the names and salaries of MPs’ staff, these remain secret.

It’s no surprise that MPs want to avoid public scrutiny of their expenses claims (averaging £118,000 a year), especially while this government imposes wage cuts on public-sector workers.

Low-paid workers have to claim benefits and risk their health by doing second jobs to make ends meet, but Gordon Brown and ex-PM, Tony Blair, received nearly £15,000 in expenses between them for doing up their kitchens.

Gordon Brown’s claims also include a Sky TV subscription and TV licence, utility and council tax bills and charges for service, insurance and ground rent on an unspecified property. The then-Chancellor also submitted quarterly bills of £723 for cleaning services, £650 for food and £1,396 for painting and decorating in 2005-06.

Tory leader David Cameron had his £1,742 a month mortgage on his second home paid. How reassuring to the thousands of low income earners who lost their homes because they could not meet their rising mortgage repayments! And, as people struggle to pay escalating food bills, former LibDem leader ‘Ming’ Campbell claimed £3,700 a year food expenses.