MPs’ expenses: all will be revealed
Reporter: OUR LOBBY CORRESPONDENT
Date published: 22 January 2009
EVERY receipt for expenses claimed by MPs will be published — after an attempt to exempt the details was shelved.
MPs were due to vote today on proposals that would have exempted them from the Freedom Of Information Act allowing them to conceal potentially embarrassing details of their expenses.
But the motion will not now be tabled meaning that more than a million receipts for expenses going back over the past three years will be released.
They cover everything from travel and office running costs to furniture in second homes.
Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Phil Woolas said: “I support the disclosure of expenses, it is public money. It is right MPs can get reasonable allowances because we do not only want only rich people becoming MPs.
“My mother was a dinner lady and my father was a factory engineer. The expenses we are allowed is so people like me can be MPs not just toffs.
“The public should ask questions to those MPs who do not spend a lot of money or claim anything because they are not doing their job properly and representing their constituents.
“I am very proud of the fact that I am in Oldham every week and in the Commons when the House is sitting.”
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the Government had thought it had cross-party agreement but would now “continue to consult on the matter”.
“We thought we had agreement on the Freedom of Information Act as part of this wider package,” he said.
The receipts, dating back to 2005-06, were due to be released last October, but publication was delayed while documents were scanned in and personal details, such as bank accounts and telephone numbers, edited out.
Last week, Commons Leader Harriet Harman said it was too costly and time-consuming to continue, but around £1m has already been spent — on top of a £150,000 bill for a failed legal battle.
When they are published — assuming no further attempt is made to block release — attention will focus on the purchase of items such as fridges, curtains and plasma TVs.
Campaigners said it was a victory for “people power” after a web protest.