I wrote the post below last weekend – but I didn’t have time to post it until today. Sorry.
I was sure I was going to have something to say on this topic after I saw the manner which the placater of the commuting masses ‘Metro’ covered the story: “UK pay is dwarfed by MP’s expenses” (Frontpage, Fri 22 Oct). Here we have an example of the media creating a frenzy. This story is not being reported with clarity – depravity would be more apt. The cartoon in the Indy of a fat cat attempting to get through the doors of No. 10 was sufficiently telling of the jealous vitriol that was to be used in the coverage.
In summary, things cost money and out of pocket expenses are met by an employer. Ok, Ok, I’ve got to admit that the numbers can appear a little excessive – but if long-distance travel is required to attend Parliament and staffed offices are to be maintained, then what do we realistically expect the numbers to look like?
One element of the expenses disclosure by the Government should however be held up to this level scrutiny. The ‘additional costs allowance’ that was designed to cover the costs of being away from home in London for MPs from the farthest constituencies appears to open to abuse.
Alan and Ann Keen, Labour MPs for the adjacent London constituencies of Feltham & Heston and Brentford & Isleworth respectively, claimed £35,388 towards the costs of maintaining a second residence in Covent Garden. You’d have thought that there ‘additional costs’ would have amounted to two annual London Transport travel cards given their proximity to Westminster.
The Independent, having managed to curtail its righteous indignation, provided this insight into our own incumbent member. Having illustrated that Barry Gardiner, MP for Brent North, claimed the maximum allowance of £20,333, it goes on to show that “In the neighbouring constituency of Brent East, the Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather does not claim the allowance because the journey to Westminster takes only half an hour.”
But the ‘additional costs allowance’ is troublesome to me. The inner London weighting allowance of £3,441 for Nurses, not to mention other public sector employees, are far short of the £20,333 that MPs see fit to reward themselves. The need for subsidised key-worker housing, such as Erin Court that Sarah recently opened, is testament to poor financial reward given to those *key-workers*.
You can find out about the Members’ Allowances for both houses via a link on the Parliament website