* - These details published by the House of Commons authorities
Q&A: RICHARD BACON ON MPs’ EXPENSES
Why are you
publishing your expenses now? I think
taxpayers have the right to know how their money is used. I thought
I could rely on the House of Commons authorities to publish MPs’
expenses soon but it turns out that I can’t. So I have decided to
publish my own expenses now, so that people can judge for
Have you ever
“flipped” your main home address between London and Norfolk? No. My main
home address is in Norfolk, where I lived since before I was elected
to Parliament. Technically I might have been able to switch
addresses but it would not have felt right. Why would I say that a
little flat in London is my main home when it isn’t?
Why should MPs
have a second home? Unless you
represent a constituency which is near to London, it is not possible
to do the job of representing people in Parliament unless you have
somewhere to stay. I don’t want to see a situation where only rich
people can become MPs. Personally, I could not possibly afford a
second home in addition to the cost of my family home in Norfolk
unless there were an allowance for a second home.
I ask myself
“Is this reasonable”? It is not just a question of whether the claim
is “within the rules” but whether the claim is “within the spirit of
the rules”. I wouldn’t buy an expensive stereo or plasma TV just
because it was technically possible.
What have you
spent the second home allowance on?
Over the last
4 years I have spent two thirds of the second home allowance on
paying the rent. As London rents have gone up, the proportion I
spend on paying the rent has increased. At the time of the expenses scandal, my rent was £380 per
week, which took up 82% of the entire allowance.
What else have
you spent money on apart from paying the rent?
For details of
each claim please see the attached document. I have bought some
second hand furniture, which may not make for the smartest flat in
town but it does the job. I have also spent money on curtains and
decorating. The second home allowance is there to pay for the costs
of having a second home in London. That is what I have used it for.
Please take a look at my
expenses and judge for yourself.
the proportion of the allowance I have spent on different items over
the last four years is as follows:
generally, what do you think about the crisis over MPs’ expenses?
over MPs’ expenses has quite rightly made people very angry. It has
shaken people’s confidence in our whole system and stained all MPs.
It leads people to think that all MPs are only in politics for what
they can get out of it. This is not what I believe but I completely
understand why people do. I also think the Daily Telegraph has
performed a public service by publishing information that should
have been publicly available anyway.
supported reform through your votes in Parliament?
year in a vote in Parliament I was one of 144 MPs who voted for full
reform of expenses. Sadly we were defeated by 172 MPs who voted
against reform. A full list of those who voted for and against
reform is in
this article on the internet.
Where do we go
from here? We need a
revolution in the way MPs’ expenses are handled. All expenses claims
should be published on the internet at the time they are made. I
have always believed in much greater openness about the use of
taxpayers’ money. As a member of the Commons public accounts
committee, I spend much of my time at Westminster tracking the use
and misuse of taxpayers’ money. I don’t see why it should be any
different for MPs.
More widely, I
hope we will end up with serious reform of how we are governed in
Britain. Government is far too secretive in this country and we need
more openness. People have the right to know what is done in their
name and they also have the right to know how their taxes are
Why did you sign the original Motion calling on the Speaker to resign? At
the moment no one has much confidence in Parliament and I don’t
blame them. For the sake of the whole country, this has to
change. We need a new Speaker to lead us out of this mess. It was certainly not the previous Speaker’s fault that
some MPs have made outrageous claims but I am afraid he has blocked
reform and spent taxpayers’ money in the courts to try and prevent
publication of MPs’ expenses. I was glad the previous Speaker decided