Monday, 18 May 2009

Three cases of snout in trough disease?

With all this focus on those in the Labour, Conservative and Lib-Dem parties who have abused the MPs' expenses system to pocket cash for non-existent mortgages, paid for second homes, top of the range TVs and even moat cleaning, it's easy to forget to look at how much Brighton and Hove's own MPs are claiming.

Between them, the city's three Labour MPs have cost the taxpayer nearly half a million quid in expenses - a total of £419,000.

All the figures are available on this handy website, which compares MPs' expenses claims with their attendance record at House of Commons debates, to determine the value for money they provide.

The figures are by no means the worst - or best - in the House of Commons, but they do show that it cost us about £1,600 a time, in expenses alone, every time one of MPs actually turned up at work.

Of course included in these totals are their travel claims.

On the face of it, these seem pretty modest: 'Two-homes' Des Turner, for example, only charged the taxpayer for just under 47 miles of travelling - about the distance of a single journey between Brighton and London.

Southern Rail only charges about £20 for this journey - even a door-to-door cab will probably only set an MP back about £60 or so. But how much did Dr Des claim? A staggering £5,807 - or about £123.91 a mile!

As the Green Party's candidate to replace him as Brighton Kemptown's MP I was quick to promise that, if I'm elected, I won't be buying a second home at the taxpayers' expense.

No, let me make it quite clear: I'll be commuting between Brighton and London, as thousands do every day , and campaigning for better public transport and cheaper trains too.

I certainly won't be claiming £123 a mile of your cash for the privelege!

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