Why are we still waiting for details on how MPs spent their Communications Allowance?

The Communications Allowance is a fund for each MP of £10,000 a year of taxpayers money to spend on ensuring their re-election communicating with their constituents. That is a pretty massive sum. At current prices as a sitting MP I could have a full colour A3 delivered to every house in a constituency four times a year. By anyone’s standards its a massive boost to local campaigning

So I’m awaiting details as to how MPs have spent this windfall with interest. And it will be declared by the Parliamentary authorities.

Eventually at least.

According to www.parliament.uk, “Costs will be reported in the autumn of 2008.” It’s well after that date now, and when asking about this information yesterday the Parliamentary authorities told me that it is still being prepared and no date is set for its publication

So why the wait? The payments run on a financial year and the latest claim for each year is two months after the end of the financial year. The authorities should have made all the payments for the last financial year by mid-June 2008 at the latest. The amount paid to each MP must be monitored so that they can be told how much is left for election campaigning further communications – so it isn’t that difficult a set of figures to pull together.

And after all the House authorities have now had longer to prepare this information than the Government gives citizens to prepare their tax returns!

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5 Comments

  • Are you thinking of the same thing Alix? I wasn’t aware any MP had voluntarily published their Comms Allowance returns (AIUI Nick published his housing etc expenses voluntarily).

    In fairness given that there was an undertaking to publish them in Autumn 2008 it was reasonable from them not to

  • I really do think that there’s a strong case for Nick to bring up this whole issue of MPs’ expenses etc up at PMQs today. Not least, I think that the general public perception of ‘they’re all the same, they’re all at it’ needs to be challenged. I also think that it’s becoming increasingly clear that the rules, as currently constituted are not sufficient.

    As a more general sidebar, how about a weekly open thread on Wednesday mornings on LDV asking ‘What should Nick ask the PM at PMQs today?’ You’d get the benefit of a small community of different ideas and it may just throw up the odd zinger every so often. Just as a bit of fun really.

  • I apologise – Nick has published his Comms Allowance figures (on the link Anders sets out above).

    However the publication of the Communications Allowance figures shouldn’t be a particularly tricky job as the payments should all have been made by mid-June.

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