After the Telegraph's incendiary revelations about MPs' expenses, today's release by the House of Commons of the (heavily redacted) figures feels like being offered a Burger King meal after feasting on a good three-course dinner.
For what it's worth, there are one or two curios to pour over in regard to Merseyside's MPs (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2009/06/18/what-did-your-mp-claim-92534-23911746/ ):
"WEST DERBY MP Bob Wareing has charged up to £1,000 a year for taxi fares in London. But the bulk was on £50-£65 trips to and from Heathrow airport for the air shuttle to Manchester airport. Asked why he did not take public transport, the 78-year-old replied: 'Carrying bags and other gear on the Tube is exhausting. I normally travel by rail or drive myself, but often it is more efficient to fly.' "
Wareing may well consider it "more efficient" to take to the skies, but many, including some who voted for him in his own seat, will think it reckless at best, & an act of environmental terrorism at worst; it beggars belief that someone who still likes to think of himself as being to the left of New Labour shows such ignorance of, or contempt for the issue of climate change. However, I am grateful to him for informing me that travelling on the Tube when burdened with bags & other luggage is "exhausting". I didn't know that.
The Echo article also refers to Crosby's Claire Curtis-Thomas, whose claims included "a 'bathroom hair drier in white' costing £75, and £2,154 to fit out a kitchen with appliances including a £318 glass cooker hood, £249 integrated dishwasher and £486.23 integrated larder fridge.......Among her claims was £15 for organic fruit teas."
The only thing which doesn't seem to be "integrated" in Curtis-Thomas' case is modesty. Moreover, organic fruit tea isn't exactly slaking the thirst of her constituents as they read with increasing anger of her claims on their taxes. There was local disquiet about her decision to change the windows on the property she bought in Waterloo, which just happens to be listed. There are clear guidelines regarding changes to the exterior of properties which are listed. However, it is not clear whether the changes Crosby's MP made to the windows were funded from her expense claims.
Riverside's Louise Ellman, aka, the "Dame of dereliction" (http://www.liverpoolpreservationtrust.blogspot.com/2009/06/louise-ellman-mp-dame-of-dereliction.html ) is mentioned. The big & the small of her chutzpah is noted ("a £499 26-inch flat-screen TV and a 64p ballpoint pen") as well as the £2,140 she claimed for her self-serving "newsletter"
The claims made by Walton's Peter Kilfoyle are mentioned, but there's more in his case: "He also claimed back the cost of a £50 summons from Liverpool City Council for apparent non-payment of business rates --he said the Fees Office failed to pay his business rates-- and £910 in fees from accountants he paid to fill in his tax returns three times between August 2004 and July 2006."
Non-payment to the council, eh? That reminds me, Kilfoyle was scathing of those who either couldn't or wouldn't pay Thatcher's Poll Tax; he intoned the mantra composed by Kinnock & co at the time: better to break the poor than break the law. He was elected in the Walton by-election of 1991, after the death of Eric Heffer. He seldom passed up an opportunity to call the anti-poll tax unions reckless & irresponsible. Nice to see he's suddenly discovered some radical backbone & told the council to go & whistle for money it wanted from him while letting the taxpayer pay for the summons issued as well as the money demanded. Right on, comrade!