Top Taxpayer’s Alliance research out this morning reveals the average cost of each MP skyrocketed during the pandemic, from £157,747 per member in 2019-20, to £203,880 in 2020-21 – a 29% increase. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to co-conspirators, given Guido’s repeated coverage of boosts to their expense allowances:
This goes without mentioning the new funding for extra staff and, of course, Airpod-gate.
Now the TPA has put together a list of Britain’s most expensive MPs, which can be read in full below. Coming in at number one is Anna Soubry’s replacement in Broxtowe, Darren Henry, who racked up a total of £280,936. This compares to the least expensive, Philip Hollobone, who spent £80,709. Kit Malthouse takes the crown for most expensive MP attending cabinet.
This year’s figures are especially interesting as, for once, they’re not dominated by Scottish and Northern Irish MPs, who usually take all the top spots thanks to their high travel costs. The virtual parliament has, however, allowed Britain’s biggest spending MPs to really shine through…
Following Rishi’s Budget speech, enduringly miserable Ian Blackford lambasted the government for cutting Air Passenger Duty. In his speech he slammed Boris for speaking about “the importance of 1.5 (degrees)” and subsequently cutting “air passenger duty for domestic flights”. He added
“Chancellor, this is a disgrace and shows quite frankly that this is not a Government that understands the climate challenge that we all face and the Chancellor should withdraw and remove that proposal.”
Since being elected in 2015 Ian has spent £72,568 of taxpayers’ money on flights, this is 54% of his total travel bill since entering parliament. He’s splashed out on flights that have cost up to £813 – which if anything shows how necessary the APD cut is.
“Mr Blackford should realise more than most that the domestic APD cut is good news for those who need to travel for work and visit family. Higher taxes just mean that travel remains the preserve of the elites. It’s easy being green when someone else pays the bills.”
It’s plane to see that Blackford doesn’t care whether ordinary people without expense accounts are able to save their hard earned dosh when travelling the country. One bill for them and another for us…
MPs have been sent a letter by the expenses body IPSA, informing them that as a result of Sir David Amess’s death they are to shortly begin redacting swathes of information being published about MPs’ expenses claims. The letter, sent to Guido, cites “some Members” who since last Friday had voiced concerns about the information being published on travel and constituency surgery venue hire.
Ahead of a wider review – which may include an attack on the information journalists can elicit via FoIs – IPSA announces they are immediately:
“postponing the publication of expenditure information due in November and temporarily removing descriptive detail from previously published claims on our website whilst the review is underway.”
Aside from both the FoI threat and the redactions, which are unjustified and anti-transparent, the main security concern Guido’s heard voiced by MPs this week is that of advertising constituency events and their precise locations in advance. Expenses claims are by very definition retrospective, so Guido cannot see how publishing details of taxi costs, train travel or surgery venue hiring costs is a security risk.
One Labour MP tells The Guardian that IPSA’s publishing of any and all expenses results in increased abuse towards them, and puts colleagues on the defensive “up against hostility about even our stationery budgets.” Not only are MPs turning Sir David’s death into an unjustified exercise in banning online anonymity, it seems some are now trying to find an excuse to return to the old pre-scandal expenses system…
Read the letter in full below:
On Saturday holidaymakers were delighted to be told by Sajid Javid they were to get a 20% reduction in the cost of PCR testing when traveling abroad, after criticism from the competition watchdog and tourism industry over cost. While the reduced £68 fee may be of some relief to jet-setters, MPs flying home to participate in tomorrow’s Afghanistan debate will no have such money worries.
MPs have been informed by IPSA, the independent expenses body, that any claims for reasonable travel by MPs – and their spouses, partners or dependents – to Westminster will be covered by the taxpayer. They specify this will cover international travel back to the UK and return flights to resume any interrupted holidays, after a storm back in 2019 when the body suggested to holidaying MPs they wouldn’t cover international travel expenses after the Supreme Court canceled prorogation. David Morris MP had to postpone his honeymoon…
MPs will also be able to claim for Covid tests “if you incur extra costs”, for example “you have booked and paid for covid tests based on your original travel dates”. It’s alright for some…
Labour’s West Midlands Mayoral Candidate Liam Byrne went on the defensive last night following Guido’s revelations he may have breached IPSA regulations when using Parliamentary expenses to fund his campaign. Reacting to the news that Leicester MP Andrew Bridgen had asked IPSA to investigate, Byrne sneered:
“I have not, and I will not take lessons from Andrew Bridgen, who is a man who racked up £24,000 worth of expenses on hotels, and has one of the worst voting records in the House of Commons…”
Still seeing red, Byrne turned his ire towards the interviewer – Reach PLC‘s Jonathan Walker – who quizzed him over the wage payments of his one of former staffers:
“What was disappointing about the story that you wrote on this, John, is that you didn’t bother to contact the individual concerned. If you had done that, which is actually a standard of integrity we expect from Reach PLC journalists, she would have told you that she worked in a voluntary capacity outside office hours on that work […] Now, we’re not going to take action against you and Reach, but frankly, you put yourself on the wrong side of the line when you wrote that.”
As Guido revealed yesterday, IPSA is now warning MPs that “using any IPSA-funded resources for your election campaign may be a criminal offence”. Byrne must be very confident…
Following Guido’s story that Labour’s West Midlands Mayoral Candidate Liam Byrne had breached IPSA regulations by funnelling parliamentary expenses into his campaign fund, IPSA themselves have now released a well-timed news bulletin containing updated guidance on the use of their cash:
“Any use of IPSA funds for either party or candidate campaign purposes contravenes the IPSA rules and may also be regarded as a donation by the Electoral Commission. IPSA is not a permissible donor for candidates, and so using any IPSA-funded resources for your election campaign may be a criminal offence. If you plan on campaigning, it is vital you read this guidance.”
Byrne might want to give the rules a quick look, considering almost £8,000 worth of his funding is currently unaccounted for…