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Latest ruling on MPs' expenses

Martin Rosenbaum | 11:19 UK time, Friday, 15 June 2007

The Information Commissioner has issued some decisions this morning which give us a better idea of what level of detail the public will eventually get to know about how MPs spend their allowances.

What it shows is that the Commissioner wants more information to come out than the Commons authorities - but that on the other hand there are limits to the levels of disclosure he will press for. I suspect this will leave some MPs angry about what they see as approval for intrusiveness but others reassured about what they regard as being reasonable and responsible.

MPs are allowed to reclaim expenses for the cost of having a job which may require two homes - one in their constituency and one nearer to Westminster. The Commissioner has decided that the amounts claimed under various headings (eg mortgage costs, utility bills, furnishings, insurance etc) should be public information, but not the fully itemised details of household expenditure as that would infringe the privacy of MPs and their families.

This goes beyond the current level of disclosure which just provides one overall total for what are called 'Additional Costs'.

The House of Commons authorities now have 35 days in which to decide whether to appeal to the Information Tribunal (as they have done previously but without much success) - as do the requesters involved who have failed to get all the information they are seeking.

Next week in another case the Information Tribunal will consider the disclosure of further details of MPs' travel expenses, in an appeal brought by the Commons against the Commissioner's ruling on that topic.

So we still don't have a definite answer to the question of what level of detail on MPs' expenses will be revealed to the public, although today takes us the next step towards the matter being resolved.

There are those who suspect that the main factor behind some MPs supporting the Bill to exempt Parliament from freedom of information was indeed concern about these more detailed disclosures on expenses that the Commissioner and Tribunal may require.

If this information now does come out it will be politically difficult to revert to the previous more limited level of disclosure of summary totals alone, which is what the Speaker of the Commons was promising.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 01:42 PM on 15 Jun 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

Publishing the expenses is one thing.

Auditing the expenses is another.

Start auditing, and the amount claimed will go down dramitically.


  • 2.
  • At 09:44 AM on 18 Jun 2007,
  • Mr.Eric.F.Whitfield wrote:

MP`s already have one of the best pensions going,they have voted for thier own pay increases (not bad going)and now they want nobody to find out thier expences,who employs them in the first place, we (the public) no longer have any say, I now wonder if it`s worth voting at all at election time, considering the choices we now have!

  • 3.
  • At 11:04 AM on 18 Jun 2007,
  • phil wrote:

MP's are all lying little weasels, of course they want to avoid public scrutiny of their expenses. That is the reason why they need to be audited. Surely this is obvious?

  • 4.
  • At 12:50 PM on 26 Jun 2007,
  • Alex R wrote:

I want to know how many of them employ family members. I bet there is a pretty strong correlation between those that do, and those who voted for MacLean's amendment.

  • 5.
  • At 05:36 PM on 28 Mar 2008,
  • Andy wrote:

Why do MP's want to cover up what they spend our money TAXPAYER MONEY !!! on i will tell you why they think it's a gravy train and milk for all it's worth you only have to look at all the failed MP's who now resided in the european parliment on six figure salaries again paid for by us mugs quote Neil Kinnock and his wife and son.
They say it's beacause they don't want sensetive information about their homes disclosing thats rubbish we don't need to know MP's addresses just what they spend taxpayers money on as i feel and i'm sure a lot of other people in this country feel the rich get richer and sod the poor buggers at the bottom i have to work part time and look after an elderly mother and i live on less than £100 a week a bit more than the law states which is £59.15 yet MP's can spend £250 a day with no recipits somethings wrong don't you think.

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