Find Your MP’s Expenses

Tuesday, June 30, 2009 7:20 | Filed in Media, Politics

After Parliament has published the MPs expenses claims in the greatest of detail, there would seem to have been no need for the Telegraph to publish any more information. Unfortunately, and presumably in order to save the taxpayer money, the printer used by Parliament appears to have printed huge black splodges over most of the pages, rendering important information illegible.

Some less generous interpretations have suggested that Parliament have done this deliberately, in order to keep certain things private, but I find it difficult to believe that our MPs would deliberately want to conceal this sort of thing from us.

Anyway, the Telegraph (probably along with every other media source) have put together a searchable database of MPs expenses. However they could maybe do with improving the ‘home’ page for that site, as if you try a cut-down version of the URL, you get this, which is somewhat less useful: other links on the site are also broken, but having been able to work out what they were supposed to be, I have managed to obtain this information without too much difficulty.

Obviously, I therefore felt obliged to look up my MP, one Dave Anderson by name. I was initially surprised to find that he wasn’t listed as an MP after all, before twigging that the official list has him down as ‘David’. Now for Dave, it’s not unreasonable to expect that his expenses would be higher than some MPs nearer Westminster, as he’s up in the North East, and is therefore likely to accrue more legitimate expenses in terms of accomodation and travel.

The fact he’s clocked up almost £10,000 in rail travel is therefore not surprising: although it is nice to see that Dave obviously prefers to travel by rail than air (less than £500 in air travel) as this is certainly better for the environment, and probably cheaper for the taxpayer too.

In terms of a second home allowance, he’s claimed quite a bit — over £20,000 per year — but as his second home is in London (where prices aren’t known for being cheap) and the claim is only for mortgage interest, I don’t really have a problem with this — when your constituency is more than 250 miles from Westminster, I think it’s reasonable to need a place a bit closer.

It’s also interesting — and to Dave’s credit — that the worst the Telegraph could come up with was that he had:

Claimed for furniture, washing machine and microwave. Claimed between £200 and £400 a month in foodTelegraph: Full List of MPs Investigated (Dave Anderson)

I don’t think it’s inappropriate for an MP to be able to wash their clothes, have somewhere to sit, and be able to heat up food in their second homes…

Nor has David Anderson employed any family members (although I don’t actually have a problem with this per se, as long as they actually do the work paid for, and it’s paid at a reasonable rate). Dave has not exactly been a cheap MP, with expenses of over £150,000 (although over £90,000 of this was staffing costs).

Nor can I find any reference to moat cleaning services or duck islands.

Now — entirely out of interest of course — I wonder whether any journalists will allow their expense claims to be subject to the same levels of scrutiny?

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