MPs Award Themselves Another £9,000 A Year Perk

(Telegraph) – MPS HAVE IGNORED PUBLIC ANGER over the expenses system by quietly introducing new rules which allow them to claim up to £9,125 a year without producing any receipts.

The Daily Telegraph disclosed that MPs have devised a new scheme allowing them to claim a £25-a-night ‘subsistence’ allowance when staying away from their designated main home.

The allowance, which is almost double the previous £4,800-a-year limit for unreceipted claims, is paid on top of expenses for mortgage interest, rent, council tax and utility bills.

It has been approved without any public announcement or debate in Parliament as MPs leave for their summer holidays. Instead it has been agreed by a small committee of MPs chaired by John Bercow, the new Speaker, and including Harriet Harman, the Labour Leader of the House and Alan Duncan, the Tory frontbencher.

In the wake of the expenses scandal, Gordon Brown and David Cameron both pledged to clean up the system of parliamentary expenses. Mr Bercow had campaigned to replace Michael Martin by promising reform and Miss Harman and Mr Duncan had both said that expense claims which were not backed up by receipts would be unacceptable.

However, the new rules state that ‘no receipts are necessary’ for the subsistence payments and that it is ‘for members to decide’ how the money is spent.

MPs will simply have to state how many nights they have spent away from their main home ‘on parliamentary business’ to receive the flat-rate sum. There is no way for the information to be independently verified.

The Daily Telegraph has highlighted cases of MPs who spend almost no time at their designated main home and who would therefore be eligible to claim thousands of pounds a year. Previously, MPs could claim up to £400 a month without receipts for ‘food’ when away from their main home.

Under the new system they could theoretically claim £775 if they said that they had stayed away from their main home for an entire month.

An MP who stayed away from their designated main home for an entire year — as Ann and Alan Keen, the married Labour MPs did — could claim £9,125 a year on top of mortgage interest payments under the new system.

The subsistence payments are disclosed in the new parliamentary Green Book, which sets out expense rules, issued to MPs on July 13.

The Green Book is usually revised only every few years, although a special edition has been produced following the expenses scandal. However, no announcement was made that a new Green Book was being produced.

… (Telegraph, 28/07/2009) – MPs’ expenses: new allowance defied official watchdog Sir Christopher Kelly

… (30/08/2009) – The Public Has A Right To Know How Its Money Is Spent

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2 Responses

  1. B*****ds!

    Words cannot express how angry I feel!

    This just goes to show how corrupt and self serving all our politicians are.

    All the fine words and protestations are now shown to be just a pack of lies – and there is no one left to vote for.

    How did we get into this state?

    • The short answer, Cynical, is that we took our eye off the ball. The public chose to believe in the carefully constructed words of political statements, rather than examine the truth which lay behind their actions.
      It should have been obvious to all that the only thing Blair was really interested in was gaining power. (He frequently said as much during his time in opposition). People chose to believe he was a man of principles; but the fact was he proved himself to be the exact opposite in the way he remodelled the Labour Party on his political opponents. (All in the name of political expediency).
      His legacy is a parliament bereft of principled politicians – and, where there are no principles, there is always moral corruption.
      We have what we voted for. We chose to believe the political spin. We sleep-walked to the edge of the cliff and were only woken by the Daily Telegraph, breaking the MPs’ expenses scandal, and the recession.
      Depressing? Yes. But I find the results from the two polls on this blog encouraging. 95% of readers think Spink should go and 72% want more coverage of local political matters.
      On Canvey, at least, it seems that no one is any longer prepared to simply accept what politicians tell them. And that has to be a good for Canvey, and the democratic process itself.

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