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We don't want any 'perks', say county MPs
A COUNTY MP says he would have “no objection” to parliamentary perks being axed - insisting he has no need to claim for tea, coffee, food, taxis or late-night hotels.
Robin Walker has stuck his neck out by saying a clampdown on MPs extra expenses could help restore battered public trust.
His stance comes after a powerful parliamentary body launched a controversial battle to hang on to the perks by arguing MPs work anti-social hours.
The Commons Standards Committee says MPs work 60 to 70 hours a week, and has suggested police, doctors, solicitors and some civil servants are reimbursed for working late at night.
The committee is in a tug-of-war with an independent body which wants to scrap the perks and give MPs a £7,000 pay rise, partly to stop any abuse of the system.
Mr Walker said: “It’s very important people understand that MPs expenses are not about perks, it’s about making sure we do our jobs properly.
“But to be honest I don’t claim for these things anyway so I have no objections to it being taken away from us.
“If that is what Ipsa (the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority) wants to do, then I’ve got sympathy with them.
“I don’t claim for anything unless it’s absolutely justified and I’m not one to be clamouring for any of these things.”
Under the changes, the independent body wants to scrap all claims for food and non-alcoholic drinks, which MPs currently get when parliament sits after 7pm.
It also wants travel in a taxi to only be allowed after 11pm, and hotel stays to be axed, unless the time reaches 1am.
The independent panel’s argument is that if pay goes up to £74,000 from 2015, an 11 per cent hike, the public would expect parliamentarians to pay for any work-related costs themselves.
Mid-Worcestershire MP Peter Luff said: “I walk home or take the tube, so I don’t take advantage of this at all.
“I’m stepping down at the next general election and have no comment to make - it’s up to Ipsa to decide.”
West Worcestershire MP Harriett Baldwin said: “I sent in a written reply to Ipsa’s consultation as I don’t agree that they should be increasing MP’s pay at this time.
“I want to see the cost of politics fall and wish we were reducing the number of MPs and peers.
“I also supported their recommendation to cancel the dinner expense.
“Colleagues claim it rarely, even when they can - I always get the bus or tube to my London home from the commons.”
The Commons Standards Authority said most MPs would “find it hard to believe” employers in other sectors would expect their staff to wait until 1am before checking into a hotel.
It has also defended taxpayers meeting the expense of buying a TV and television licence for an MPs second home, saying politicians need to be "informed and available at virtually any hour", and that access to the media while away from their normal property is a "legitimate business expense".
Final recommendations are due by the end of the year. At the moment, a backbencher's salary is £66,396.
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