Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Will MP’s Wrongly Claimed Cash be Returned?

While the media has concentrated on MPs additional costs allowances – with their second homes, duck homes and moats – attention is now turning to another pot of public money available in Westminster: the incidental expenses provision.

According to the documents released by Parliament, Cambridge MP David Howarth claimed £4,200 for a press officer in 2007-08.

This was specifically ruled out of order in the MPs rule book at the time:
“Expenditure not allowable: Advice for individual Members on self promotion, or PR for individuals or political parties” (page 18).

While Mr Howarth did not benefit personally from this transaction, it looks like his party did.

This was public money, not a Lib Dem cash point for PR.

There are now questions to be answered:

What were the press officer's duties?
How can the Lib Dems justify taking the funds?
Has the money been refunded?
And if not, when will it be handed back?

The BBC reported, “ Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg says the government should cancel its legislative programme and focus on cleaning up British politics.” He should start with his own party.

The Rule Book:

The Claims: The 'press officer' claims are for £600, £1,050, £750 and £1,800...

1 comment:

  1. Earlier today I and others who are on Cllr Hipkin's mailing list received an apology from Cllr Hipkin apparently for making similar claims to those made in this article.

    It appears Mr Howarth considered them defamatory and called in the lawyers.

    The issue may well be that the rules on staffing (the expenses category out of which Howarth paid for his Press Officer) are different from those for the Incidental Expenses Provision, which you have cited in your post.

    A key question you have raised in your post still needs addressing: "What were the press officer's duties?"

    I have written an article following Mr Hipkin's apology today: