There is a fuss about expenses going on at the moment. This comes from the fact that historically allowances have been used to boost MP pay. This was obviously a mistake, but has been hidden until the current decade. Gradually it has become clearer and clearer that what is going on is indefensible.
My own view is that the rules of MP expenses should be determined by an independent body. The outcome of this would be properly justified.
The expenses for 2007/8 have just been released. It is important to distinguish between those figures which are for supporting the constituents and those figures which are for supporting the MP.
My own figures are:Constituency and Research
Staffing: £82,588 (I have published a list of staff none of whom are relatives)
Office Costs: £29,031 (basically 1772 Coventry Road and postage costs)
Communications: £6,313 (annual report etc)Personal costs
Additional Costs Allowance: £21,375
Travel by Car: £1,415
Travel by Rail: £1,737
I am one of few MPs who put additional money into staffing costs from my salary, but that is not reflected in the above figures.
My view is that when looking at expenses the concentration should be on minimising the cost to the public purse rather than having a complex paper trail.
I have done some calculations on the personal costs of MPs and I think I am still the most cost effective MP (in terms of personal costs) in Birmingham. Lynne Jones is the second most cost effective.