On his blog Frank Field is complaining that he has been unfairly treated by the Legg investigation into MPs’ expenses. Guido was more than willing to give Frank the benefit of the doubt, after all he voted for opening MPs’ expenses to Freedom of Information requests and the Telegraph described him as a ‘saint’. As he himself says, his expense claims were on the low side:
For the last five years, I claimed, for my home in Birkenhead: £11,250; £12,006; £11,509; £9,573 and, for the year ending April 2009 my claim was £7,303, 30% of the total allowance. I did not claim anything approaching the maximum annual £24k simply because I did not need to claim such an amount.
He has been asked to pay back £7,000, he has paid back only £117 for an accidental double claim. Frank complains:
Imagine that you have been driving, perfectly legally, through a 30 mile an hour zone at a speed of 25 mph. Imagine then your reaction when, five years later, you receive multiple fines as a decision has been taken to change, retrospectively, the speed limit to 20.
Up to a point, bear in mind that with no family to provide for, Mr Field has extraordinarily low housing costs. Was he perhaps exceeding the limit when he claimed £119.00 for a trouser press in March ’07? Was it “wholly, necessarily, and exclusively” in the performance of his parliamentary duties? Field often claimed the round figure of £1,000 a month without providing any receipts, he does this so often as to make Guido wonder was it really £1,000 exactly? Was it perhaps a little less than the round figure? With no receipts how will we ever know?
Do taxpayers really need to buy him a flat-screen TV (plus TV license £135), was his coffee maker (£49.95) “wholly, necessarily, and exclusively” for the performance of parliamentary duties? Were the hundreds of pounds worth of luxury bed linen especially necessary for his work? Frank should pay up and reflect on the lives of his tax-paying constituents, lest his halo becomes tarnished.
UPDATE : Saint Frank seems to think we should pay for his shoes as well. He obviously doesn’t walk on water…
Picture credit : Red Rag