I like many constituents have been shocked by some of the press reports and allegations. I hope that the official information will be published soon so that full and accurate information is in the public domain rather than the selective Daily Telegraph reports. I do not have a second home. I have only one home in my Ilford South constituency on a mortgage paid for by me from my salary. I have never had a mortgage paid for by Parliamentary allowances.
I have in the past made use of the Parliamentary allowances which I was entitled to claim and either occasionally stayed in hotels or for a few years rented a flat near Westminster. This was done to assist me in working more efficiently in doing my job as a Member of Parliament and since 2005 as Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, which involves many late evening engagements or early morning meetings or media appearances. I gave up my rented flat in Westminster in early 2008. Since then I have returned to commuting daily to and from Ilford to the Commons.
I do not employ any members of my family or any relatives. I have two full time and two part time members of staff working in my House of Commons and Constituency offices who all have contracts and are paid in accordance with trade union and House of Commons agreed scales. None of them are related to me. These staff all work extremely hard and may also do unsocial hours from time to time. I receive about two hundred items of post, two hundred emails and dozens of telephone calls each day. I also do a regular constituency advice surgery. None of this would be possible without the essential support staff who work for me and my constituents.
Contrary to some press reports MPs - unlike journalists - do not get expenses; we have allowances which should be used only against defined criteria. If people break the rules they should be exposed and sanctions taken. If they break the law they should be punished.
Politics is a noble and necessary occupation and it must be defended against those who corrupt it and those including too many of our so called “political commentators” who attempt by cynicism to undermine it. Let us unite to defend politics and parliament by making the rules more transparent and clear and by introducing an independent system of assessment and scrutiny but also by ensuring that MPs have the staff and other resources to do their jobs properly to represent their constituents, to legislate and to hold the executive to account.
I would add that I am a full time Member of Parliament and do not have any other paid employment.
posted 18 May 2009