Opinion: How much do MPs actually eat?

Let us contrast two reported sets of figures for food costs claimed by Lib Dem MPs…

Norman Baker

July-Sept 2004: £287
July-Sept 2005: £307
Aug-Sept 2006: £178
Aug-Sept 2007: £157

Ming Campbell
Sept-Oct 2004: £800
Aug-Nov 2005: £1000
July, Aug, Sept 2006: £1000
July-Aug 2007: £650

We-the-taxpayer already pay our MPs a salary of at least £60,000 a year, and provide them with an allowance for a second home to cook and eat in.

I don’t think, therefore, there is any justification for a separate allowance for food costs. But if there is, one can anyone explain why one MP can feed themselves on around £100 per month but another needs much more?

* Hywel Morgan was ALDC’s Campaigns & Development Officer from 1997-2004.

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11 Comments

  • Not an unreasonable point Huw. But in a situation where those whoh decide how much we are taxed are also creating various allowances for themselves I think it’s valid

  • I don’t think it’s a matter of how much they eat, but – how shall I put this – the refinement of their taste.

    I somehow wouldn’t be surprised to see Norman Baker in the Little Chef on my next visit; to see Ming in such an establishment would astonish me!

    I sense similar distinctions in soft furnishings!

    [Every time I go into our local Morrison’s for a chip butty I’m reminded of those MPs who patronised it during a recent by-election, and those who didn’t !!]

  • Martin Land 13th May '09 - 9:36pm

    Because Ming is on the high-fibre high calorie diet of the athlete, while Norman is a ‘cereal’ campaigner!

  • Are we not being rather petty here?

    Both these MPs opposed the Iraq War. On the big issues that matter, they get it right (unlike Murdoch and Black, who have long and dishonorable records of supporting US foreign policy). If one chooses to gormandise occasionally, and the other doesn’t, so what?

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th May '09 - 10:07am

    I’m assuming the expenses are not for every meal eaten, but only for those which have to be taken outside normal circumstances. When I was a councillor I think I might have put a couple of claims in for meals taken while I was away at some conference or training day or whatever on the councils business, but not for normal meals take at home or (though I think some would have claimed for this) taken on the way from work to the council because I didn’t get chance to go home. Maybe Ming had more of this sort of thing than Norman.

  • “If one chooses to gormandise occasionally, and the other doesn’t, so what?”

    This seems to be the justification advanced. “Ming likes the high life and Norman doesn’t”.

    That’s a perfectly sustainable position as regards a person’s own earnings. Ming’s had a successful career and earned a lot of money. If he likes to eat at the Ivy every night that’s his choice.

    But when they are claiming for such items on expenses it becomes reasonable to ask questions.

    All these claims are for months when Parliament was reportedly in recess as well so it is legitimate to ask in what way they were related “for the purpose of performing your Parliamentary duties”.

    Sesenco – that argument gets dangerously close to “they’re one of ours so they must be OK”

    I emailed this to both Ming and Norman before posting. They both say they champion transparency in public life so they are welcome to comment.

  • “I’m assuming the expenses are not for every meal eaten, but only for those which have to be taken outside normal circumstances.”

    Not so. The Green Book states:
    You can claim ACA if:
    a You have stayed overnight in the UK away from your only or main home, and
    b This was for the purpose of performing your Parliamentary duties, and
    c You have necessarily incurred additional costs in so doing….

    No receipts were necessary to claim the food bit of ACA under the old rules.

  • @ John Hemming MP

    The problem is John as no receipts were required, no one can know what food this was spent on (or even not spent on anything).

    This is simply an allowance designed to put more money in the pockets of MPs.

  • Matthew Huntbach 16th May '09 - 11:14pm


    “I’m assuming the expenses are not for every meal eaten, but only for those which have to be taken outside normal circumstances.”

    Not so. The Green Book states:
    You can claim ACA if:
    a You have stayed overnight in the UK away from your only or main home, and
    b This was for the purpose of performing your Parliamentary duties, and
    c You have necessarily incurred additional costs in so doing….

    Er, yes, so as I said, not for every meal eaten, only for those justified under points a), b) and c).

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