Friday, April 04, 2008

Leading MPs' expenses released

New details of MPs' expenses released today show that former prime minister Tony Blair claimed £116 to pay his TV licence, his successor Gordon Brown claimed £2,000 for cleaning and ex-deputy prime minister John Prescott £4,000 for food over a year.

The details were released by Speaker Michael Martin to the BBC after House of Commons authorities decided not to appeal the Information Commissioner's ruling that they were wrong to withhold them.

There is no suggestion that any of the claims were in breach of rules, but they shine another spotlight into the operation of the Westminster allowances system, which has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months.

Today's release is understood to contain a breakdown of how much was claimed by six prominent MPs in the financial year 2003/04 on a range of different items, including stationery, IT equipment, travel for the MP and spouse and groceries.

But it does not include the full details, including receipts and invoices, being demanded under a separate information request relating to 14 MPs, which the House of Commons Commission is appealing at the High Court on the grounds that it breaches members' privacy. The Commission argues that publishing the full documentation relating to allowance claims would inevitably mean MPs' home addresses becoming public knowledge.

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