Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Monday, 6 April 2009


I can go no longer without addressing the thorny issue of MP’s allowances, a matter of great public concern. It is fine for the media and public to be sceptical about their Members of Parliament, but if that lack of respect falls below a certain level the bedrock of our democracy is threatened. We are approaching that tipping point now.

Something needs to change.

There are three kinds of allowances. The first is to run our offices, rent, computers, photocopiers and the like and to tackle the mountains of post, e-mails and phone calls that we get every day from those who have elected us and are looking for help or wish to express a view. This is about £20,000 a year and excites little controversy.

The second allowance is to pay the salaries of the hard working staff who deal with all of the above and generally provide the services that local people demand, as well as conduct research into various issues I am tackling at Westminster and material for speeches etc. This is about £100,000 per year and is essential to do the work. The controversial part of this allowance is we can employ a member of our family. In my case, I have employed Jan on a part time basis since the children left home to help with articles, research, media scrutiny and surgeries. If she did not work for me she would have to work for somebody else and so we would never see each other, so I am happy to defend this decision.

The real hot potato is the second home allowance, especially in relation to London members. This is about £24,000 per annum to defray the cost of staying away from home 3 or 4 nights a week. As it takes 4 hours door to door to get to Westminster from my constituency, a place to put my head in London is necessary, as it is for most of us. The rules permit us to buy or rent or stay in hotels. They also permit the purchase of furniture etc for that second home. As our salaries have been pegged in recent years, this allowance has crept up. It seems that some have abused it. This now needs to be addressed - urgently. But how?

I support the independent review now announced and we will just have to accept its findings whatever it says. What do you think should happen?

posted by Gary @ 11:35