Monday, May 18, 2009

Since its a rarity I’ll make an exception

Ladyman explains all As you might expect, the opinion of Bignews Margate is highly influential in the corridors of power, but rarely acknowledged.

Still in rare break with normal protocol, Stephen Ladyman MP for Thanet South has taken the unusual step of dipping his browser into the the murky waters of Thanet’s Bloggerati and honoured Bignews with his reply to my earlier blog “Subject best avoided” no points for guessing the subject.

So unusually I shall reprint his comment in this post, unfortunately he doesn’t address the second job issue.


I'm not going to make a habit of responding on your blog - but I'll make an exception just this once as people are so angry about, and interested in, MPs expenses and I think that total openness and full disclosure now is the only way we can reassure them.

First my website has had details of my expenses for two years now and has always gone a lot further than most MPs. Your readers can do a comparison of my website with that of other local MPs if they doubt me.

It's interesting is it not, that the Conservative MPs mentioned in the KM article calling for 'transparancy' and saying we should be 'accountable' have not put any information on their own expenses in the public domain? A case of do as I say, not as I do, perhaps?

What I have done now is extend my website even further to include the claims and receipts themselves and some, so far unaudited, details of my expenses for 2008/9. So everything that is available on me is now in the open - when those Tory MPs quoted as believing in 'transparancy' have gone as far then they can talk again.

The KM article quoted puts the issue being discussed at that time in a rather strange context - what I was supporting was not a plan to block publication - but a plan to publish the data on expenses in a way that gave the public the information they needed to form judgements about their own MP (including how much they spent on alterations and furnishings etc) whilst not publishing information on addresses and bank account details. It was an arrangement that was negotiated with the Conservatives and when it was proposed had been agreed by them - they changed their minds about 48hrs before it was put to Parliament and so the Leader of the House had to withdraw it - so in the end I never had to decide which way to vote.

The food allowance that MPs can claim is generous as you say - but keep in mind my working day starts at 8am and finishes when the House goes down (about 11pm on Mondays and Tuesdays, at about 7.45pm on Wednesdays and 6.45pm on Thursdays with sitting Fridays finishing late afternoon) and most of the time you have to be in Parliament or the surrounding area which is why we have to eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between in the canteens and restaurants of the House or 'the division bell area'. In the last 12 years the number of times I have cooked in my London accomodation kitchen can be counted on the fingers of one hand - so the cost involved is far greater than if we could buy food at the supermarket and cook it like everyone else.

The system has now been changed so rather than allowing MPs to claim £400 per month for food we claim £25 per night spent away from home for food (which would come to about £400 if you are in Parliament every sitting day). Of course, £25 is still generous and will no doubt be one of the things that Sir Christopher Kelly reviews as part of his inquiry - but if you have to buy all your days meals in Parliament and Central London then £25 is probably round about what most workers, working away from home in London, would expect.
Last but not least, the PM has called for a complete independent audit of all MPs expenses since the last election and I support that call. MPs who've made mistakes should repay the money and MPs who have cheated should answer in the courts like anyone else. When the Kelly report comes out we should accept it without any messing about and from then on all MP salary and expense decisions should be made by an independent body and not interfered with either by MPs or Prime Ministers and all claims should be independently audited.

Commenting for the first and possibly the last time on this site ...

Steve Ladyman

Next week I hope to have a similar communication, from Kent’s Tory Leader explaining why he needs Kent council to waste 6 million on advertising, 2 mill ? on KTV, Kent Health-watch and all that Malarkey.


  1. Pity Steve, It would be nice to hear from you more often

  2. Condescending tw*t.

    Oink oink!

  3. So its you, me, Ladyman, half a dozen fellow blog site barons, a dozen unemployed councillors or ex councillors, and your cat, who make up your followers Tony. Hardly something to crow about.

  4. cut through the spin, you are just as greedy as the others