MPs and money

Quite a lot of MP s get into trouble over money.

A few extreme individuals turn out to be thieves or fraudsters. Submitting false invoices to be paid or cheating people or the state out of money is common theft and will end in tears.

Many others are brought into dispute by their use and abuse within the rules. There are some areas to watch for those of you concerned to see value for money from your representative.

Does the MP undertake a lot of travel directly charged to expenses? Does the MP undertake many paid for and sponsored trips abroad?

An MP can claim travel expenses between the constituency and Westminster on the basis that the MP works in two locations. A company usually reimburses a staff member for travel to another branch or office. MPs can also claim for necessary trips beyond their constituency for research and Parliamentary approved purposes. There are numerous MP groups who take sponsor money to pay for meals, events and travel. MPs can push the rules a bit far about claims. They can overdo the sponsored events. Some sponsored trips become notorious for the conduct of MPs on them.

Anything an MP does for the party has to be paid for out of party funds. Some MPs want to spend heavily on leaflets and events for political purposes. They need to raise money from donors and need to report that. Some donors can become a difficulty for the MP. Care needs to be taken to avoid conflicts of interest.

The public is very critical of expenses. Most of the expenses are legitimate costs that do not reward the MP. Each MP needs an office, office equipment, broadband, headed notepaper and staff. In most people’s work  this is supplied by the employer who just pays  the bills. No one thinks they need to add office costs to an executive’s salary when working out the pay package.

What is worth probing is the total cost as a measure of efficiency and value for money. I ran my MP office with just two staff who did a great job following up casework and responding promptly to constituents. I did all my own research and writing as I needed to know what I said and why I said it. Many MPs hire staff to write speeches, social media comments and press statements. That can lead to inconsistency and confusion if staff change or more than one might produce something.It also produced much higher office costs than I charged.


  1. Peter Gardner
    June 1, 2024

    “Many MPs hire staff to write speeches, social media comments and press statements. That can lead to inconsistency and confusion …. ”

    Not if the MP requires all releases to be signed of by himself or herself. Surely that is normal? Although there are cases who, like Joe Biden, get it wrong themselves and need their staff to correct them afterwards with further statements and releases.

  2. Sir Joe Soap
    June 1, 2024

    There’s a lot to be said for MPs being self sufficient before becoming MPs, so that the job is something more altruistic than being done for pure cost of living. Many MPs in that position will have “been there” as less than well off before going into Parliament and are likely to have more life experience than MPs going straight through CCHQ/Spad/MPs assistant or whatever.
    Also the way folk are “picked” seems rather eccentric these days. It will be interesting to see whether the new candidate for Wokingham will be the sort of lady or chap we’d see in the local village shop, or a “parachutee” along Cameron-like lines.
    The Libdems are certainly on manoeuvres here, with weekly newspaper leaflets telling us that “Clive” will build hospitals, do this that and the other for us in Wokingham. So far he’s delivered an expensive ugly large non-recyclable plastic bin and halved garbage collection frequency as Council Leader.

  3. Ian Wraggg
    June 1, 2024

    Yesterday SKS berated Fishy for using a helicopter and then went on to fly to Scotland in a private jet
    Just about sums up politicians and their lack of elf awareness.

  4. Jazz
    June 1, 2024

    Sir John, you failed to mention the ability to employ family members, which lead to some consternation, but also the revolving doors from politics into the rich rewards of private industry.

    Of course the various ppe contracts given out during covid also raise concerns.

    A lot of temptation.

  5. Mickey Taking
    June 1, 2024

    Not to mention paying relatives for ‘office support’ which turns out to be largely invisible.

    1. glen cullen
      June 1, 2024

      All within the ‘rules’ dear boy, all within the rules

  6. Lifelogic
    June 1, 2024

    Indeed all sensible points.

    The MPs scheme is generous and used to be even more generous when people could buy second homes using the expenses system. Most people do not get paid for travel to and from work and it is not even tax deductible but can be funded tax free for MPs. The scheme for MEPs was a total racket as Farage and others have described with no receipts provided. The tax free allowance for the Lords is clearly a racket too.

    Hugely subsidised restaurants and bars in the Palace of Westminster too. Yet the HMRC tax allowable meal allowance rates are as follows: For travels lasting 5 hours or more: The maximum claimable meal allowance is £5. The last time I bought a pasty, a coffee and a water takeaway at Kings Cross for a train trip it cost over £11.00. How very generous of HMRC! Years back HMRC had rules on what mileage rates you could claim for business travel but MPs had special “just for MPs rates” of more than double as I recall. Plus they could claim travel to and from work and parking plus they could almost always claim most trips were work related. I popped over to Italy for a weeks, just to see how their healthcare system worked…

    The NHS do not even refund compulsory professional fees for doctors for employees. My relative a first year junior doctor is on £34k in central London. He has zero disposable income after tax, NI, commuting, rent on a small room in a shared flat, heat, light, water, professional fees, interest (just interest not capital note) on his student loan and council tax. Nothing left at all for food, drink, lunches, fun… this after a hard 60+ hour week including commuting time. His similar aged flat mates work for banks and are both paid over 3 times as much. It is any wonder Junior Doctors are on strike or leave the job or the country? Often wasting their valuable training and skills. Even the 35% rise they are asking for would still leave him struggling and certainly never able to buy a home without my help.

    Still “all in it together” as some government ministers like to claim.

    reply MPs wanting reimbursement for rail travel have to buy cheapest available standard ticket. Office costs have to be against invoices paid and are subject to a limit. I did not claim any travel costs myself and provided my own flat for overnight accommodation.

    1. JoolsB
      June 2, 2024

      You’ve just described my son LL. Like your relative, a Junior Doctor who lives in London. He loves medicine but can no longer afford to stay a Doctor and now has a non medical job waiting for him in September at three times the salary. If only they were afforded the same expenses scheme as our self serving politicians.

      1. Lifelogic
        June 2, 2024

        Sad, a terrible waste of all that training. I still have to subsidise him by about £5k PA as I have been for about 7 years since he was 17+ total cost so for me to subsidise the NHS so far is about £100k (+interest) I am not expecting to get any back perhaps he can steer me away from dodgy surgeons in old age. He literally has zero disposable income after the essentials I list above. Plus he is only renting a small room in a small shared three bed flat and not in Chelsea or anything!

  7. Richard II
    June 1, 2024

    I’d say you were pretty good value, Sir John. I reckon you also had excellent assistants, and I wish them well too.

  8. David Andrews
    June 1, 2024

    One of my former MPs had to step down over charges of accepting cash in brown envelopes (from a former owner of Harrods no less), another was at the forefront of efforts to scupper Brexit as the legislation worked it way through parliament (a former Attorney General no less) but as far as I could make out his successor was mostly preoccupied with the search for photo opportunities around the constituency – but at least that was relatively harmless – but blotted her copybook in my eyes by uncritical support of Boris Johnson as PM. We then had a constituency carve up so we have had a LibDem MP involuntarily imposed on us since the boundary reorganisation. At least the election now offers the opportunity to challenge canvassers about their position on Net Zero and to how low (in ppm) they want to cut CO2. Yesterday the first canvasser turned up (in support of the Conservatives) and said he agreed with me that NZ was nonsense and the Climate Change Act should be repealed. But then offered no good reason why it was not Conservative policy.

  9. Peter
    June 1, 2024

    ‘ A few extreme individuals turn out to be thieves or fraudsters’ John Stonehouse nearly got away with it.

    Then there was Jeremy Thorpe.

    1. jerry
      June 1, 2024

      @Peter; Oh dear… As I understand it neither of those cases involved miss appropriation of Parliamentary funds, expenses, nor the bending of parliamentary rules. Whilst John Stonehouse was indeed convicted of (insurance?) fraud, in the case of Jeremy Thorpe, he was acquitted. He said-(s)he says proves nothing, other who can shout the loudest, even more so once one side is either medically incapacitated (or dead).

      Without naming names, it might be best for those on the right not to start name-calling with regards extra-parliamentary activities, considering some once prominent (ex) Tory MPs have also had legal troubles over the years, even if some did manage to avoid a criminal trail themselves.

  10. Nigl,
    June 1, 2024

    And a great credit to you but it’s a talent, experience and generational issue. Looking at the debate about candidates across the parties it is clear independently minded polymaths are not required.

    The less knowledgeable indicates, and we see it a lot, a lack of inquisitiveness, so malleable voting fodder.

    As for honesty, just a reflection of society. What’s different and I have worked in both public sector and a major international PLC is how free and easy the public sector is with expenses, entertainment budgets etc. Annualised accounting and an attitude that if you don’t spend it, you well get less next year means that every last penny goes.

    Add an overblown sense of entitlement to this cavalier attitude and you have many MPs. Duck houses, moats, family on pay roll, it beggars belief,

    In the private PLC every spend had to be justified with efficiencies leading to budget reduction annually. I had a large office with work measurement figures showing we were working to the max potentially needing more people.

    The opposite was the reality. Head count reduction year on year, a key objective and performance managed to ensure I achieved it.

    The revolving door, back scratching, spend it’s not ours, lack of accountability and real oversight culture seemingly infests much of public sector senior management and we, as the general public, see the result.

  11. Lifelogic
    June 1, 2024

    Tories face being reduced to 66 seats, new poll suggests. First MRP analysis of the campaign puts the Conservatives on course for their worst electoral performance ever.

    This is quite some achievement, given that Sunak’s Labour party is even worse than Sunak’s Consocialists.

    Remind me why did that net zero pushing, tax to death, the vaccines are “unequivocally safe”, fan of vast immigration levels & socialist fool Sunak go to the country 6 months before he had to? Major was rightly destroyed but he did at least have Blair to tackle who had the gift of the gab. Starmer’s Labour is appalling yet he is about to be destroyed by them when the country is crying out for sensible real Conservative policies.

  12. William Long
    June 1, 2024

    Do MPs’ expenses have to be authorised or signed off by any other person? I suspect not, but would be grateful for confirmation.
    In any commercial organisation I have worked in, any out of pocket expenses had to be authorised by a senior person, and when I was company Chairman, by two board members, and I would be surprised if things were different for anyone else in the private sector; I do not know what happens in the Civil Service.
    An authorising signature raises the bar considerably, because of there is malpractice, the signatory opens himself up to charges of conspiracy to defraud, and that might make even MPs or employees of Parliament think twice.

    Reply Expense claims with supporting evidence are sent to IPSA who decide if they are within the rules

  13. Mark B
    June 1, 2024

    Good morning.

    MP’s expenses are indeed a contentious issue, not necessarily for the amounts or for what is claimed, but for the secrecy around it. MP’s and Civil Serpents are employed by both the people and the Crown respectively and providing what they put down as costs should be subject to public scrutiny.

    I remember the MP’s fiasco under the last Labour government when it took great effort to get the information out into the public domain. And once out, to our disgust, we the people were being ripped off. It was a bad day for Parliament when that happened and one I still cannot forgive.

    My MP was most clever, and devious. He waited until the last day before he sent me and other constituents his letter (I mentioned this in a previous post) which amounted to a party political leaflet, but the postage and paper bill was on the taxpayer. Very trixy.

    Still. He shan’t be getting my vote.

  14. glen cullen
    June 1, 2024

    One poll today suggest a total wipeout for the tories – a yet the leadership of the tories hasn’t changed any policy ….today change your net-zero, tax and immigration policies

    1. Lifelogic
      June 1, 2024

      Indeed the country is actually crying out for some real Conservative policies:-
      Scrap net zero, cut and simplify taxes hugely and cut the size of government, a bonfire of red tape and high skilled and severely limited immigration… but Sunak just offers us more socialist rip off energy lunacy just like Labour but with a touch on the brakes for net zero and no VAT on school fees.

      But then, if he did offer this why would anyone believe a word he says when the Tories have pushed the complete opposite for 14 years? He even lies that he has cut taxes already and that the Covid vaccines are “unequivocally safe” and comes up with bonkers ideas like enforced unpaid work for 18 year old’s and the smoking ban by Date of Birth lunacy.

      1. glen cullen
        June 2, 2024

        Sunak, like the rest, have made themselves kings and rule-makers ….we’re just plebs to them

    2. jerry
      June 1, 2024

      @glen cullen; You have not grasped the facts, those polls suggest a wipe-out not because voters want less “net-zero, tax and immigration”, people are not pledging support for polices the polar-opposite to what they actually want any more than they did in 1983; are you seriously suggesting the majority of voters back in 1983 did not want Thatcher(ism), that they actually wanted the Communism-lite of the then Militant Tenancy far-left?!

      The polls suggest a 20 point gap between Con and Lab, yet the drift towards “Reform” only makes up 10% of the gap, suggesting for every vote being lost to Reform another is lost to Labour…

      1. Mark
        June 2, 2024

        Most voters are still in the NOTA camp. Labour does benefit from much better vote retention among those saying they have decided who to vote for, and it has captured a good chunk of the small Lib Dem vote (more than say they will stick with Lib Dem). There are few switchers from Tory to Labour.

        The Tories are more at risk from NOTA increase than anything else, since Reform have yet to capture wider support, although the recent increased prominence of Farage does appear to have added a few points.

        1. jerry
          June 2, 2024

          @Mark; The comment and my reply were talking about current opinion polling, not sure one can grasp at straws (the NOTA, or are they just not saying…) opinion from such polls, it is clear that whilst the LibDem vote has been, and still is, bumping along at around 9% for the last 18 months the Con and Lab lines on the percentage graphs are like reflected mirror images of each other, as one rises the other falls…

          1. Mark
            June 2, 2024

            That is because many ex Tory voters have moved to the NOTA camp, leaving fewer behind, but a larger proportion of Labour voters among those with a clear intention. The cross-break tables in polling show there is no big switch from former Tories to Labour. Tory switchers have mostly gone to Reform.

          2. jerry
            June 2, 2024

            @Mark; Yours are Straw man arguments again. How do you know these uncountable “NOTA” voters are erstwhile Tory votes, they might be Corbyn supporters, but come election day they will side and vote for Labour, even if they hate what they perceive as the current ‘Capitalist-lite’ Party!

    3. Dave Andrews
      June 1, 2024

      They need a changing of the guard first.

    4. John Hatfield
      June 1, 2024

      And don’t tell lies. Do what it says on your election manifesto.

  15. Everhopeful
    June 1, 2024

    How about MPs supporting and working for laws that affect ordinary people badly but plump up the MP’s pockets?
    And having “insider knowledge” of what is planned.
    Like staying in the EU and actually benefitting from, say, the agricultural policy.
    Something like MPs who found the Corn Laws personally remunerative.
    Or does an MP have to declare an interest and not vote?

  16. Original Richard
    June 1, 2024

    “Many MPs hire staff to write speeches, social media comments and press statements.”

    This is one of the reasons why a majority of MPs are completely clueless as to why Net Zero will sabotage our economy, living standards, social cohesion and military security especially when they have degrees in PPE, ancient and modern history, ancient and modern languages, law etc. and cannot even comprehend the difference between power and energy.

  17. Sharon
    June 1, 2024

    If an MP is dishonest with money/expenses and is unable to write his own speech, then I ponder if they’re in the right job. There’s nothing wrong with getting help with the wording of a speech, but surely the words should come from the heart, not just from someone else’s bit of paper?

    1. jerry
      June 1, 2024

      @Sharon; Err, except many (Prime) Minsters do not write their own speeches either, perhaps they too are “in the wrong jobs”? Duh! 😳

      1. Mark
        June 2, 2024

        I’ll fight that on the beaches…

        Although I think we can expect Starmer would continue to rely on autocue.

        1. jerry
          June 2, 2024

          @Mark; As did a certain Margret Thatcher, in fact did she not popularize the use of the autocue among politicos, not wishing to be half hidden behind a higher than necessary lectern?

  18. agricola
    June 1, 2024

    By any measure an MP doing a good job for his constituents is not well paid and needs staff to an agreed level to supplement the work. Why not pay staff and office essencials directly from the public purse, while leaving the choice of who the MP wishes working for him to the MP.

    Travel between constituency and Westminster or to anywhere else on official business should come from the public purse. Sponsored visits and travel are questionable. The sponsor is paying for influence. Not everyone can afford more than a letter to their MP, is it morally right that XYZ, Plc should take the MP to Bali or the Caprice to explain their case. I think not.

    Conversely if an MP wishes to learn how to run a super efficient railway or to gain knowledge of the latest ICE developements he could visit Japan at public expense, facillitated by our business diplomatic service in Tokyo. If public health is the MPs concern then visit Germany, France, Spain , and Australia at public expense. The MP might discover why NHS staff head for Oz.

    I think the payment of pensions from nationally gathered tax for civil service employees, including MPs is a bad principal. Only by privately purchasing in the same market as their constituents will MPs fully understand the weaknesses of that system, and wish to correct it.

    If an MP has a moral compass he can survive in the current system, but doing the job well should not be jeopardised by the inadequate recompence of legitimate expenditure.

  19. Christine
    June 1, 2024

    “A few extreme individuals turn out to be thieves or fraudsters”

    I think the whole Government falls into this category. They get elected on a manifesto and then deliver something completely different. They tax everything and then waste the money on their own vanity projects no one voted for. They print money out of thin air; if I did the same, it would be called counterfeiting, and I’d go to jail.

    The level of sleaze, corruption, backhanders and lobbying within our parliament is a disgrace and don’t get me started on the HoLs, QUANGOS, charities and publicly owned companies.

    I believe you to be an honest man Sir John, who puts this country first but you are a rare breed in the House of Sleaze.

    1. Lifelogic
      June 1, 2024

      Indeed read the last three Tory manifestos Cameron’s, May’s, Boris’s and soon Sunak’s . They promised lower taxes, far lower immigration, better public services, cheap energy and energy security, economic growth, more houses, law and order…we got the highest taxes for 70+ years, millions more low skilled economic migrants, far worse public service, zero economic growth per cap in PPP + the net harm lockdowns and the net harm vaccines! Well done for 14 years and with the Boris 80 seat majority. Plus we had Sunak’s 5 promises four fails but the inflation Sunak as Chancellor with the BoE caused has fallen a bit though not interest rates. So real interest rates are higher!

      1. Hope
        June 2, 2024

        You failed to mention failure to deliver Brexit which was the central reason for the 85 seat majority which they deliberately failed to deliver!! I wonder why people do not believe them and now they are trying to scare people with Labour when Labour’s record,on,everything is better! What a dire situation for voters unless…… you vote Reform!

        Absolutely no point wasting it on Labour or Tory who will lie, deceive and carry on everything EU.

    2. Lifelogic
      June 1, 2024

      A rare breed indeed in the House of Commons. Perhaps at best 50 MPs all Tories are sound, sensible and honest. But even then most of them voted for the insanity of the climate change act, support Net Zero, put up with vast immigration levels, the net harm lockdowns, HS2 and the net harm vaccines. How many listened to Andrew Bridgen telling them the truth?

      1. Lynn Atkinson
        June 2, 2024

        You do t know how many are listening to Bridgen in their offices on TV. You don’t have to be in the House itself unless you want to speak.

    3. Bloke
      June 1, 2024

      You make a fair comment Christine, which many will recognise and agree with you.

    4. John Hatfield
      June 1, 2024

      Well said Christine.

    5. Geoffrey Berg
      June 1, 2024

      Talk about disgrace, I think Starmer is the worst. He campaigned with his agenda in 2020 to become Labour Leader and he has reversed or binned that and in 2024 he has turned up with a completely different agenda in an election to become Prime Minister. He is not to be trusted and if the Conservatives focus on that they might have a slight chance of winning. Incidentally when Starmer says when he was Director of Public Prosecutions the decision not to prosecute Jimmy Saville was taken by a more junior official and he didn’t know about it, I simply do not believe him. I don’t believe he wouldn’t as head of the organisation have been told about the decision whether or not to prosecute the most famous person in line for possible prosecution. In the unlikely event he wasn’t told, he wasn’t running the organisation properly.

  20. Ian B
    June 1, 2024

    Sir John
    It would help if there was just half of the MPs we have. The US population 350 million makes do with 435. The UK 67 million takes 650.

    Cut the numbers, 250-300 would be ample, double the pay, increase administration expenses and other allowances, cut the term in office to 2 years before members have to seek confirmation from their constituents.
    We need a proper professional and serious HoC.

    Ensure all selection is done by the community to be served, I would go as far as suggesting all donation for campaigns should also come from within the community.

    On the same train of thought, scrap the unaccountable un represented HoL that has no place if there is to be Democracy in the UK. An elected upper house yes, political appointed buddies that can’t get real jobs no. Government and the HoC is insulting and belittling the the UK and its people by even ‘thinking’ the HoL is part of the process.

    Then we could double the penalties for miss-steps, but we might also get the MPs we deserve, properly funded.

    1. Ian B
      June 1, 2024

      UK plc needs people with abilities to manage and run the Country, to manage and control expenditure. With this Conservative Government we have none of the things, just a left of Labour Socialists Cabal that couldn’t manage their way out of a paper bag. Then with the rubbish that Labour is extolling they are equally clueless. The Liberal Democrats? (Neither Liberal or Democrats) just disenchanted Labour supporters.

      So, the question is how do we get the right people for the job? How do we get those that will serve their Community and Country? In the main(there are exceptions but over time they have dwindled) the HoC is stuffed full of hobbyists, doting servants of useless gang leaders. This cycle of decline has to change

    2. Mark
      June 2, 2024

      It used to be that the aristocracy were the Lords, and being landed gentry had a close many generation family connection with the places they came from. They also had an interest in the local economy and people on and around their lands, and were educated from birth to the role. They did not depend on Parliament or party for income or position for the most part, and the ethos was different. Many had diverse interests, often partly driven by what their local economy produced. There is definitely a case for that kind of representation, and maybe the Lords is the better place for it. There is no benefit to making the Lords into a sinecure for the cronies of successive PMs, opposition leaders and coalition partners.

      The day to day work of MPs and ministers requires a much higher standard of knowledge than exhibited by most MPs. I would be in favour of requiring them to sit a qualification exam before even standing, where they could select specialist papers hinting at their suitability for particular ministries and committees as well as more general ones.

  21. DOM
    June 1, 2024

    You’re a dying breed fella. Most MPs treat taxpayers money with a seething contempt. Such an attitude filters through to the general public who rightly take note of this abuse of public monies and copy it with a revengeful shrug of the shoulders.

    As an aside. The persecution of Trump is a seminal moment in American history. The arrogance and contempt of the Obama class could drag the US into a dark place.

    Obama and Blair. It is fair to say that these creatures have inflicted almost existential damage on two great nations. When Labour take office the realignment agenda will accelerate.

    1. Lifelogic
      June 1, 2024

      Indeed if they get a large majority how long before Starmer is replaces by even worse?

    2. Narrow Shoulders
      June 1, 2024

      Osborne, Clegg, Cameron – One nation tories

      1. glen cullen
        June 1, 2024

        Its easier to name the ‘none’ one-nation tories ….as there’s only a couple of dozen

    3. jerry
      June 1, 2024

      @DOM; When most voters see major issues of Westminster (perceived) sleaze as they did for example in 1964, again in 1997, and who knows what effect mid/late ’70s Labour Party sleaze had upon the 1979 election [1], they do not “copy it with a revengeful shrug of the shoulders” as you suggest, they vote against it, the average voter has a far better moral compass than your bilge-water of a comment suggests.

      Regarding the Trump trial, yours is an attack on the entire system of Trial by Jury…
      Of course Mr Trump may well be totally innocent, I am not a lawyer to judge (are you?), but there has been no “persecution”, unless one dislikes the idea that one person can make a lawful complaint against another, just a total failure of the defenses case, in which case let’s hope they get their act together before any appeal hearing!

      [1] the Liberal Party certainly suffered contagion due to their ex leaders difficulties at the time too

    4. Lynn Atkinsom
      June 1, 2024

      The USA will not hold together. It’s going to be Balkanised. None of us can afford the dead wood anymore.

      When you see how my new MP was suckered into making a false speech, you appreciate that JR doing his own research and writing his own speeches was a critical part of his work. I also know that he refused to sign documents in a language he did not understand (Welsh) because they might not have been an accurate translation from the English version.

      This is where Tice and Farage etc will be taken to the cleaners. Tice owns the corporation that is the Reform Party. This is the EXACT opposite of what conservatives want.

  22. Ian B
    June 1, 2024

    To balance my criticism of how Rishi gets his loyal following yesterday, We have Labour on the same track – our political structures are insane and kick democracy in the teeth.

    The current director of the Resolution Foundation, (Labour’s Director of Policy under Ed Miliband )Torsten Bell, has been selected as Labour candidate for Swansea West.
    Bell’s Resolution Foundation released a landmark report in December called “A New Economic Strategy for Britain“. Its recommendations are:
    • Make everyone pay inheritance tax by scrapping the nil-rate band.
    • Raise Capital Gains Tax on shares to 37% and real estate to 53%
    • Charge Capital Gains Tax on death and when moving out of UK.
    • Slashing VAT registration threshold to £30,000.
    • Scrap business and agricultural property reliefs.
    • Hike basic rate of Dividend tax from 8.75% to 20%.
    • Charge national insurance on rental income.
    • Hike national insurance for higher self-employed incomes by 300% to 8%.
    • Cut the £270,000 cap on tax-free pensions to £40,000.
    • Introduce pay-per-mile road duty for electric vehicles.
    • Scrap the 5p cut in fuel duty. Increase fuel duty by 2% every year.
    • Hike vehicle excise duty for heavier cars.
    At the same time Bell was arguing that ISAs should be abolished because they “work for the top“.

    Does he represent the people of Swansea West or is he just someone’s pal and would be servant? Did even the hard working Labour Party in Swansea get a choice? Or was it Starmer outlining Labours future direction

  23. JoolsB
    June 1, 2024

    “Many others are brought into dispute by their use and abuse within the rules. “

    Therein lies the problem. Anyone in the private sector abusing their expense accounts to the level that happened during the expenses scandal would have found themselves in prison and most certainly have lost their jobs. But greedy MPs got away with it because it was all within the rules, albeit their own bent rules. They are still sticking ear pods, parking tickets, jollies abroad on their expenses and some mostly Tory are allowed to rent out their London owned properties to make money and then rent another at taxpayer expense. Why are MPs allowed an extra £9,000 annual allowance for each child they have to put towards their London rent if these are properties supposed to be attached to work. Meanwhile Junior Doctors in London are supposed to pay their £1,000 plus a month London rent out of their own meagre salaries. Definitely one rule for gravy trainers and another for everyone else.

    And one last thing. Why are 117 part time MPs from the devolved nations allowed full time time salaries, full time pensions and full expenses including a nice taxpayer funded pad in London, when most of their workloads are done for them by the devolved parliaments.

  24. Robert Pay
    June 1, 2024

    I might be the only person who reacted to the MPs expenses scandal by feeling relieved that our MPs confined themselves to excessive use of taxis etc. I applaud your frugality though!

    1. jerry
      June 1, 2024

      @Robert Pay; Only because earlier scandals had resulted in some MPs, (and Peers) being shown the exit door in the years and decades before.

  25. Bert+Young
    June 1, 2024

    Many MPs have often taken advantage of the expenses system ; if there was an efficient surveillance system this would and should have been controlled properly . Each year exposures have shown abuses amounting to huge sums – an insult to all voters .

  26. formula57
    June 1, 2024

    “I did all my own research and writing as I needed to know what I said and why I said it” – demonstrating amongst other virtues the great merit of having parliamentarians with a high level of formal education.

    It is a surprise to learn that you ran such a highly effective office with only two staff. I had occasion twice to contact each (a lady a year or so ago and a gentleman who I think left subsequently several years ago) and both provided very timely, courteous, replies that whilst generously kind could not have been more fitting in their appropriateness. That did not wholly surprise me but it was nonetheless pleasing to encounter.

  27. Derek
    June 1, 2024

    Why should both houses, Commons and Lords be entitled to taxpayer funded, subsidised meals and liquid “refreshments”?

    1. Berkshire Alan
      June 2, 2024

      Many large Companies used to have subsidised canteens or restaurants decades ago, that so called “perk” was not taxed, it was simply part of the companies costs and overheads, and part of the renumeration cost of employing people.
      Many a works canteen I used decades ago provided excellent simple well cooked meals for very little cost.
      Many companies also used to have sports ground facilities and social clubs, where again food and drink were less expensive than commercial bars and pubs.
      The only difference that you correctly highlight, is that it was not tax payer subsidised, although the costs were part of the companies overheads, put against profits.

      1. Mike Wilson
        June 2, 2024

        The big difference being that a private company providing (possibly) subsidised meals for its employees is using its own money. The subsidised meals and bars in Parliament use OUR money. If a company provides a chair for an employee to sit in, is that a benefit-in-kind? They could stand at their desks. Are MPs taxed on the benefit-in-kind of their subsidised meals and drinks?

  28. jerry
    June 1, 2024

    “I ran my MP office with just two staff who did a great job following up casework and responding promptly to constituents. I did all my own research and writing as I needed to know what I said and why I said it.”

    Constituency staffing is surely dependent on workload, without knowing the level of casework and the MPs unseen Westminster workload, it is impossible to judge one MP against another.

    If I may Sir John, a suggestion for a future article, give your comment about research; reading historical Downing Street and/or CAB papers one can grasp the relationship between governmental departmental thinking but it is sometimes more difficult to understand how raw policy comes about.

    Would it be possible to explain the roll and work of the Party(s) and No.10 Policy Units, how the ‘Discussion’ Papers the PM and cabinet members see come about. These units appear to have an almost unlimited subject remit but at the same time appear to have a very restricted base (of authors), is that so, or are there groups of researchers feeding ideas and information upwards via these authors?

  29. Sakara Gold
    June 1, 2024

    With the very generous expense account, its nice work if you can get it

    1. a-tracy
      June 1, 2024

      Have you put yourself up for election SK? If not why not if you think it’s ’nice work’?

      I think it is awful work. You have your private and family life pried into. Some MPs get their office muck bombed and worse, bad communication, just pure levels of nastiness aimed at them.

      I hope you book a nice long vacation John, you deserve it.

      1. Sakara Gold
        June 1, 2024


        I haven’t stood for election. There are other ways to influence debate on the issues of the day. And as you say, it’s hard to separate your private life from your public life.

        We are lucky that we live in a vibrant democracy, where people can express their views on the many blogs and social media that are available. I have contributed to Sir John’s blog for over twenty years and can vouch that he posts here 365 days a year, with very few exceptions. I am lucky, he posts about 90% of what I submit

        Sir John once stood for election as leader against John Major. He was the best PM that we never had.

  30. Richard1
    June 1, 2024

    Interesting point on writing your own stuff. You have always been clear, articulate and consistent. Many politicians talk in word salads, where even the intended meaning is difficult to discern. The most prominent current example is the grossly over-praised Rachel Reeves who seems to be of a clear statist-socialist bent but talks the banal language of meaningless management-speak. At least she doesn’t seem to be a revolutionary communist as was threatened had Labour won the last election.

  31. George Sheard
    June 1, 2024

    Hi sir John
    Thank you for your messages I have enjoyed reading them it looks like we are going into a dark era if labour get in
    The conservative have wasted a gold opportunity to make this country great but have spent the time disagreeing with each other you seemed to have the answers to some of our problems.
    John I wish you well for the future for you and your family GOD BLESS

  32. Berkshire Alan
    June 1, 2024

    John, Surely there are a set clear rules and guidance put down somewhere and given to all Mp’s to follow as soon as they are elected.
    If not, why Not.
    If the rules are not clear, then re write them, otherwise what is the point of having a Department that clarifies such expense and expenditure.
    I think a big problem comes from outside influences/lobby groups coughing up for entertainment, so called overseas meetings, conferences and the like.
    All expenses, or so called payments in kind for entertainment and the like, etc etc, should surely come under the same HMRC rules for Politicians, as they do for any self employed person.

  33. Narrow Shoulders
    June 1, 2024

    Surely there is a cap on the office expenses that can be claimed? Seems perfectly reasonable to have some admin assistance (even if it is a wife or close relative if they are actually contributing) but unneccesary to have an entourage and a speech writer?

    1. glen cullen
      June 1, 2024

      Its would be cheap and more transparent if each MP was allocated an office within their local council with admin support provided

      1. Lynn Atkinson
        June 2, 2024

        So you get the Woke brigade frustrating you at every turn instead of your own chosen staff helping you.
        Let’s save money elsewhere, – real money you know – billions.

        1. glen cullen
          June 2, 2024

          Lets do both

  34. APL
    June 1, 2024

    JR: “MPs and money”

    We, British citizens don’t get value for money from MPs or Parliament.

    But that’s now why I’m commenting.

    You may have noticed that all the banks are closing their branches on the High Street, and in the country towns and cities.

    I propose this is another area that the British Public has been bilked by the political – banking establishment. In 2008 we spent more than £138 billion to bail out the banks. Closing branches and reducing their service levels is how they repay the British public.

    How is that value for money ? And where ( given that the banks are withdrawing suport from the small business community ) is the loyalty of the Banks to the UK tax payer ?

  35. forthurst
    June 1, 2024

    A local MP, shortly after his first election to Parliament agreed to become a non-executive director of a local company without knowing anything about it. Unfortunately for him, the Managing Director of the local company only wanted to put his name on his company notepaper thereby being better able to pursue his business activity which was a long term fraud or ‘long firm’ in which suppliers were duped into supplying goods on the basis of falsified references supplied by several different companies which were all actually related; the law subsequently caught up with the ‘businessman’ and he was revealed to have been an escaped convict operating under an assumed name. The fraudster pleaded guilty to a large number of offences thereby saving the MP further embarrassment.

  36. Bloke
    June 1, 2024

    Efficiency and value for money are important measures, but MPs need not do everything themselves. Utilising assistance on the donkey-type work of raw research and drafting scripts can be helpful, enabling the MP more time to sharpen up on key points instead of starting from scratch. Controls exist to prevent exploitation of expenses. Those who maintain high quality standards and deliver valuable results are what we most need. Occasional looseness on overspending is relatively minor in the context of achieving such important outcomes for the nation.

  37. Mickey Taking
    June 1, 2024

    I’ll try once more, you don’t mention MPs who ’employ’ relatives in the office either relatively unskilled or role exaggerated.

    Reply This has been banned for new cases

    1. a-tracy
      June 1, 2024

      MT if they employ their relative who you allege ‘isn’t pulling their weight or capable’ then doesn’t the work full back onto the MP. Surely you realise that sometimes employing a ‘safe’ relative who you trust can be a godsend. Often that MPs relative does more than double what a hired hand would do and gets no appreciation for it from the public.

      1. Mark
        June 2, 2024

        I think one incentive for trying to avoid having a relative work for an MP is it gives the Party the opportunity to insert their own spy into the office, lest they should go rogue. It can also help to try to juggle family issues with the needs of work of the MP if there is liaison via a partner. I’ve known some who were not relatives and some who were working for MPs. They were all dedicated – but that was perhaps a different era. Of course, paying money for rope into the family is not a good idea.

  38. Iain gill
    June 1, 2024

    I have watched large chunks of the film released by Tommy Robinson today as part of the protests. Not the full thing yet, it’s long.
    It’s got to be said there is little to fault it. It continues the theme of the post office inquiry and shows even more how much of a mess our country is. It’s certainly correct about the rubbish policing we get.
    I’d recommend you have a watch. Mainstream politics needs to listen to these homie truths.

  39. Paula
    June 1, 2024

    We could overlook all of that if only you’d adhere to your manifesto pledges. As it happens Tories are involved in more scandals than any other party.

    Reply In last Parliament a smaller percentage of Cons MPs than most other parties

  40. Iago
    June 1, 2024

    To Iain Gill,

    Don’t they just, but they won’t.

  41. outsider
    June 1, 2024

    Dear Sir John,
    It has been depressing over the years to see the average MP’s status reduced to being a party-controlled public employee subject all sorts of officials, codes and committees but with many privileges to be gamed. If as many Labour MPs are elected as polls currently predict it would be no surprise to see a strike being called during the next Parliament over some confected matter of principle.
    Most of this could be swept away if MPs were instead self-employed contractors paid a flat fee from a Council Tax precept to represent their constituents. The only variation would be a Treasury-funded zonal distance-from-Westminster” grant. From this, they would cover all their costs, expenses any private pension contributions.
    This is not considered because the overall fee would seem high. At the time of the expenses post mortem I guesstimated £200,000 per year. Maybe that would now be nearer £300,000. Much easier to hide the true average cost of MPs from the public. If our political leaders had a little courage, however, the discipline of fixed budgets would almost certainly save us money as well as restoring some dignity to MPs.

    1. iain gill
      June 1, 2024

      I would personally pay MP’s a flat fee proportional to the distance of their constituency from parliament. ie give those furthest away most to compensate for extra travel etc. I would let them spend it as they choose, and pay tax according to how its distributed, eg expenses comes out tax free, earnings get taxed, etc. I’d like to say tax them like any other freelancer, but the way the state wants to tax freelancers is not clear at all as the political class seem unhappy with all the legal and tax structures available.

  42. groundsman
    June 1, 2024

    They insist on addressing themselves as ‘right honourable’ etc which is very often wide of the mark. Legislation should be enacted to make honesty essential in all things for this job – anyone thereafter found telling lies in parliament and outside parliament stealing or cheating as an MP should get thirty years imprisonment no if’s no but’s

  43. Ukretired123
    June 2, 2024

    MPs expenses should be kept on record for 6years like everyone else and not shredded just 3 years especially after the previous Expenses scandal, surely.
    Integrity is crucial.

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