Extra £7 million on MPs Communication Allowance not the answer

Jo Swinson spoke against the new Communications Allowance in Parliament

The Leader of the House of Commons was today attacked by Jo Swinson over the cost of a new Parliamentary allowance.

Jo challenged Jack Straw in the House of Commons over a statement he made in November 2006, that he “did not believe for a second” her estimate that the cost to the taxpayer of a new Communications Allowance for MPs would be as much as £6 million.

However a report before MPs today confirmed the £6 million figure, with an additional £1 million available for postage costs.

Commenting, Jo said:

“Members of Parliament have a special responsibility to the taxpayer to spend money wisely.

“Communicating with my constituents in East Dunbartonshire is important, but MPs already have budgets available to communicate with their constituents by post, by printing reports and online.

“Some members find that high office rents reduce the budgets available for communication, and this problem should be dealt with separately, as should the abuse of the postal budgets by a small number of members.

“Spending £7 million extra on allowances for all MPs is not the answer – it is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”

The Communications Allowance fund will be £10,000 per MP and will be linked to a new cap on Parliamentary stationery at £7,000. The Communications Allowance will be used to fund proactive engagement by MPs with constituents, including: reports and newsletters, surveys, petitions and websites. A motion to approve the introduction of the Communications Allowance was approved today after a vote in Parliament.

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