Expenses

bigstock-Income-Expenses-Files-Show-Bud-36328051I get paid what many people may think is a huge annual salary – the basic annual sum is now £67,060. And like all MPs I also qualify to claim expenses where these have been properly spent.

You deserve to know what I’m spending it on. The figures for every MP in the UK are published by Parliament. But I am the first MP in the UK to let people know as soon as I know. I started publishing my expenses on this website three years ago. It is not a secret and you are welcome to look at the list, compare me with others and get in touch if you don’t like what you see. Parliament publishes all MPs detailed expenses. Mine can be viewed by clicking this link:

I employ a wonderfully efficient Executive Secretary and Office Manager to  keep the wheels oiled properly in Bridgwater. I have also taken on three extra part-time hands to deal with the growing workload – one in Bridgwater, two in West Somerset. I use a researcher in London to keep me briefed and my long-suffering wife Jill works for me in a Secretarial capacity in London and the constituency.

I drive a diesel car and clock up a huge annual mileage in and around the area. I usually drive to London but occasionally take the train. My wife is entitled to a limited number of rail tickets between the Constituency and Westminster.

Two of my three children have researchers’ security passes for Westminster. This doesn’t mean that I am using them for research work. It is simply a device to enable them to enter the Palace of Westminster when they are in London. They are entitled, under the current rules, to travel to London on a strictly limited basis to visit me. MPs spouses automatically get “access” passes. Unfortunately no such system exists for children (maybe it should?) Quite a few MPs put their children down as researchers just to enable them to get in and out of the place. But I don’t pay my children a bean out of my Parliamentary allowances.

If you ask me to reveal the precise remuneration of each of my employees I will politely decline. The House of Commons voted to declare only the figure paid out of public funds for total staff costs. Members of my team are not elected representatives. As private citizens they have the right to decide what to disclose. If they choose to tell you how much they get paid, fair enough.

But, like Civil Servants (who are also remunerated out of public funds) they have a right to privacy. I am happy to let you know the pay scales into which each member of my team fits. You can read the details for yourself in this document, which lists the pay scales:

The whole business of Parliamentary expenses is controversial. Parliament itself is changing the rules – toughening up. The old rules were far too flexible:

Everything I now claim is very carefully scrutinised by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, IPSA for short.  IPSA was established to oversee the whole process. Their word is law.

I did not invent this expenses system. MPs themselves should not set their own pensions, salaries and expenses. It should be taken out of our hands. I want to be seen as squeaky clean and I would much rather operate under a system that said – “here you are, here’s a decent salary, but NO perks. What you spend is up to you, but don’t expect any extras”

That is why I was the first MP in Britain to publish details of my pay and expenses in 2004.

People have the right to know where the money goes.

I will campaign to change the way such money is allocated, because I think the existing system risks giving all MPs a bad name.