MPs Expenses for 2007/08 released

Sink your teeth in here.

One think I will note is that the figures for the ‘Staying away from home’ (i.e. second home) allowance are by and large quite close to the maximum limit…

In fact, thanks to Guido Fawkes’ speedy grasp of the figures, we can see that around half of the 646 Members of Parliament claim within 10% of the maximum of £23,083 allowed.

Not that I am a fan of kicking a woman whilst she is down, but MP of the moment Jacqui Smith claimed £22,948 under the pretence of the Second Homes Allowance, a mere £135 off the threshold. In case Richard Timney is reading, that equates to more than 4,589 pay-per-view adult films a year on Virgin Media.

There are also 17 MPs who have managed to claim over £100,000 on staffing costs. Try and spot the pattern…

Margaret Beckett, LAB (£107,458)
Nicholas Brown, LAB (£101,153)
David Cameron, CON (£103,630)
Harry Cohen, LAB (£100,494)
Lynne Jones, LAB (£100,254)
Tessa Jowell, LAB (£102,028)
Ann Keen, LAB (£104,508)
Khalid Mahmood, LAB (£101,894)
Judy Mallaber, LAB (101,456)
Bob Neill, CON (£102,055)
Stephen Pound, LAB (£101,057)
Clare Short, LAB (£105,802)
Sir Peter Tapsell, CON (£100,790)
Ian Taylor, CON (£103,859)
Bill Wiggin, CON (£100,009)
Michael Wills, LAB (£100,554)
Mike Wood, LAB (£100,135)

Did you see it?

Every MP who spent over £100,000 on the staffing allowance is from one of the main two parties (in this case, 12 Labour and 5 Conservative). The more eagle eyed of you there would have been able to spot a few Goverment Ministers and Whips in there, too (Margaret Beckett, Nick Brown, Tessa Jowell Clare Short). As Ministers of the Crown, they would be able to recieve another wage on top of their parliamentary salary for the job they do in their respective department. Same goes for the shadow Cabinet, with David Cameron and Bill Wiggin claiming six-figure expenses on top of the extra they recieve for being part of the shadow Cabinet.

Not that I am one for getting all anti-politics, but it is very hard to feel sympathy or relate to anyone in Parliament when they earn nearly three times the average national salary, and are able to claim hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of allowances. Each. Then you throw in the Ministerial salaries (which in some cases is more than the MPs salary) on top of that, and it really is not that big of a jump to see the hypocrisy between they show every time they take a swipe at the banking pay system.

Ofcourse, neither the banks nor Parliament can carry on with their current pay and allowance structure. I have already delved into the issues with the latter, but here is one more to chew over with a real life example. The Torygraph broke the story yesterday of two MPs married to each other together claimed £270,608 in expenses. That in itself isn’t the biggest issue, for me it is the fact that they are both able to claim the Second Home Allowance. It is loopholes like this which must be closed to get a handle on this enormous engorgement of public money.

(psst! I don’t like to end on all bad news, so a quick well done to Michael Spicer and Phillip Hollabone, whos expenses claims were absolutely tiny in comparison)

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3 Comments

Filed under News, Politics

3 responses to “MPs Expenses for 2007/08 released

  1. Pingback: (Slightly) well played: Gordon Brown « One Year to Change the World

  2. Adam Byrne

    Given that Lab/Con MPs account for the vast majority of MPs you point is a little weak. And are you really claiming, as so many do, that as well as their salaries MPs are pocketing the full value of their allowances. The staffing allowance is there – like office costs etc – to allow MPs to do their jobs. These don’t supplement incomes except in rare instances of corrupt practice – the most frequent being the employing of family members, which should rightly be scrutinised and done so better than at present.

    There are wide spread abuses by a minority of MPs but many of the big abuses are ignored in favour of the funnier smaller ones – the Winterton Scam v Jacqui Smith’s porn loving husband for example.

    The second home allowance is there to allow MPs to live in London – why we allow this to be claimed by London based MPs is a nonsense – but scrap it and we’ll end up with a Parliament full of MPs who are rich enough to support themselves. And in who’s interest is that?

    • theysayitsraininginnewyork

      Hi Adam,

      Granted the fact that around 550(ish) of MPs are Con/Lab then I would expect most of the high claims to be from then. But I would expect a few instances from other parties of Members claiming over the odds. On top of that Ministers can claim another staffing allowance upwards of £90k: http://www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/M06.pdfpage=6

      so in some cases, you’re talking around £200k for a handful of parliamentary and ministerial staff

      I’m not claiming that MPs pocket the staffing allowance and I know what it is for – though reading back through I can see why you may have thought that, so apologies! My main gripe is that most of the instances I listed were above the maximum staffing allowance threshold set, which is just over £100k
      http://www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/M05.pdf#page=2

      I also wonder how staffing costs for MPs can vary so wildly, by tens of thousands of pounds in most cases. MPs are only allowed 3.5 staff maximum on the staffing allowance, and I just wonder whether it would be better to set a standard of pay for all MPs staff across all Members.

      I agree with you in part on the second homes allowance, anyone within commuting distance of Westminster really shouldn’t be claiming expenses for a new house. Gawd knows millions of Londoners spend hundreds of pounds each year on hour long commutes to get to work by public transport, why can’t MPs?

      Obviously I’m not saying all MPs are like this, that would be wrong, but when it comes to attention that MPs are abusing the system like this it needs to be addressed.

      But I wonder whether you believe that, at the moment, this is the best of a bad situation instead of something that needs to be addressed?

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