Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Let's stop all this travel nonsense by our MPs...

There’s been no shortage of hot air spouted about the MPs travel claims published today under Labour’s Freedom of Information Act.

Thanks to LibDem MP Norman Baker who requested the data, we know now that the MP who claims the most for air travel is, er…a LibDem.

That’s about as surprising as the fact that he is also the MP who represents the constituency furthest away from Westminster!

It's wonderful what you can find on the internet, and I've established that there are alternatives to flying to make the 1,500 mile Westminster-Shetland journey...

So, leaving Westminster after the week’s business in Parliament, Alistair Carmichael MP (that's him in the picture) could take a mid-morning Friday train from London. A couple of changes (that's trains not clothes) and 24 hours later, he'd be due to arrive in Thurso.

There is even a faster early morning service that would get Mr Carmichael to Thurso before ten o'clock the same evening.

Once he gets to Thurso, he's over half way home...He only then need to make the bus connection to the ferry, followed by a simple 200 miles overnight sea journey (providing it’s not cancelled by bad weather of course...)

I didn’t get as far as checking to see whether Mr Carmichael would have time for a swift cup of tea before starting his return journey to Westminster in time for the new week in Parliament (providing the ferry even runs on a Sunday!).

Of course, he could always drive. If he didn't stop for a break, he could probably do it in 24 hours each way, maybe, possibly.

I’m sure you get the picture…

Imagine the outrage if Mr Carmichael failed to make himself available to his constituents – or didn’t bother turning up at Westminster.

Yes, I’m sure with a tooth-comb we can all find what appear to be abuses of the system by a few of our MPs.

But I’m with Michael White, Political Editor of The Guardian on this one. He points out that they’ll probably be good reasons for most of the apparent anomalies.

He also says many of our MPs don’t claim a bean for travel.

My own view is that democracy costs money. Of course they should be accountable for spending our money. But if we want our elected representatives to do a decent job, for goodness sake let's them the tools to do it and stop moaning.


Anonymous said...

It appears that some of the figures are wrong. There is a letter in The Times today from the leader of the opposition stating that he had never made a claim for a taxi fare since becoming an MP. The figures published indicated that taxi fare claims for DC was £1000+.

Nevertheless there are some anomalies - it would be impossible for Janet Anderson to have claimed the mileage stated. I am hoping there will be greater clarity and accuracy now by all involved.

I welcome the publication. When the Scottish Executive started publishing claims, they fell dramatically. I have absolutely no problem with travel expenses although question that MPs as compared to the rest of us do not have to substantiate all monies claimed.

I now look forward to the publication of Housing Allowance.

Anonymous said...

The Shetland MP you describe, Phil, would not go that way.

The non-flying route would be London-Aberdeen by train (a nice journey) and then a few steps to the ferry which leaves at 7pm on a Friday.

Wake up fresh in Lerwick.

fairdealphil said...

liz: thanks for the info....

brynley: thanks too.

fresh in lerwick eh? does that mean if he goes by your quick route he'd have time for two cups of tea before he starts back for westminster?