The curious comparison of the seven North London MPs

In exposing the actions Tony McNulty the Mail on Sunday produced an interesting table of the claims of Additional Cost Allowances made by MPs in outer London and the South East.

It makes interesting comparision when you compare the claims of MPs in neighbouring seats. The following MPs all represent seats that are a broadly comparable distance from Westminster. Yet the amounts they claim are vastly different.

MP Constituency ACA claim in the last 5  years+ Claims London Supplement?
Sarah Teather* (LD) Brent East £0 Yes
Dawn Butler** (LAB) Brent South £37,245
Rudi Vis (LAB) Finchley and Golders Green £32,211
Lynne Featherstone** (LD) Hornsey and Wood Green £0 Yes
David Lammy (LAB) Tottenham £25,263 Now claims
Neil Gerrard (LAB) Walthamstow £0 Yes
Harry Cohen (LAB) Leyton and Wanstead £104,701

+claims between 2002/03 and 2006/07

*MP since 2004

**MP since 2005

The Mail on Sunday figures don’t give the complete picture so I’ve added in the London supplement. This is paid to inner London MPs. Outer London MPs can claim it as an alternative and then cannot claim ACA. The London supplement was £2712 in 2006-7 so, assuming it was lower in previous years, if an MP had claimed this as an alternative they would probably have received around £12,000 over the five year period reported by the Mail.

MPs who live away from Westminster clearly incur additional costs and it is right that they are compensated for those costs.

None of these MPs have done anything wrong or broken any of Parliament’s rules, but these figures pose this question. All these MPs represent constituencies which border or are very close to the inner London border. Why do some MPs regard £12,000 as enough to compensate their costs over 5 years, but others need over twice that and in one case up to £100,000 to cover their costs?

Update: Update: Since I wrote this Gordon Brown seems to have shared my concerns saying, “The workings of Parliament must be transparent, accountable and of the highest standards”.

Strange then that when Parliament debated MPs allowances and recommendations that:

There should be a “robust new system of practice assurance involving regular financial health checks on records kept and processes used in Members’ offices with outside professional teams covering about 25% of Members each year”.

This was substituted by a “rigorous internal system of audit”. And an extension of “the scope of the audit engagement so that it is the same as for other public bodies.”

He didn’t actually turn up to vote.

See also: Right noises on MP expenses

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This entry was posted in Op-eds and Parliament.
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2 Comments

  • Looking at the update on Dawn Butler’s website (see the posting two above) it seems that she now claims the London supplement.

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