£10mil­lion in dirty money

‘Golden good­byes’ for for­mer MPs caught up in the ex­penses scan­dal

Daily Mail - - News - By Kirsty Walker Po­lit­i­cal Cor­re­spon­dent k.walker@dai­ly­mail.co.uk Com­ment – Page 14

MORE than 200 MPs who left Par­lia­ment at last month’s gen­eral elec­tion have pock­eted al­most £10.5mil­lion in tax­payer-funded ‘golden good­byes’.

A re­port has re­vealed the MPs en­joyed an av­er­age of £47,706 each to help ‘ad­just’ to life in the or­di­nary world.

The fig­ures will par­tic­u­larly en­rage hard-work­ing tax­pay­ers as some of the MPs who pock­eted the hand­outs were dis­graced af­ter abus­ing their ex­penses.

The re­set­tle­ment grants – worth be­tween 50 per cent and 100 per cent of an MP’s an­nual £64,766 salary – are handed to any MP who loses their seat at a gen­eral elec­tion.

The money, which varies ac­cord­ing to age and length of ser­vice, is given to the for­mer mem­bers re­gard­less of whether they re­tire vol­un­tar­ily or lose their seat.

The first £30,000 of the pay­ments are tax free and this year’s to­tal is higher than usual be­cause of the large turnover of MPs in the wake of the ex­penses scan­dal.

Among the 218 who have re­ceived the grants are the mar­ried for­mer Tory MPs An­drew MacKay and Julie Kirk­bride – who have been handed nearly £100,000 be­tween them.

It also in­cludes for­mer Home Sec­re­tary Jac­qui Smith, multi-mil­lion­airess and for­mer Labour MP Bar­bara Fol­lett, and Ann Keen, also an ex-Labour MP. Mrs Keen and her MP hus­band Alan, were dubbed ‘Mr and Mrs Ex­penses’ be­cause of their ex­ces­sive claims.

Com­mons au­thor­i­ties say all the pay­ments, which come on top of the par­lia­men­tary pen­sion, ‘ may be claimed to help for­mer MPs with the costs of ad­just­ing to non-par­lia­men­tary life’.

The re­port by the Tax­Pay­ers’ Al­liance found 43 MPs were en­ti­tled to the max­i­mum £64,766 pay­ment.

Most MPs are be­lieved to take the spe­cial pay­ments, but some have in the past de­clined them. MPs are en­ti­tled to the pay­outs un­der the al­lowances regime but this is un­der­go­ing a ma­jor over­haul af­ter be­ing heav­ily crit­i­cised.

John O’Con­nell, of the Tax­Pay­ers’ Al­liance, said: ‘This vast sum of money will be frus­trat­ing for tax­pay­ers, par­tic­u­larly af­ter the ex­penses scan­dal. MPs should be aware that they are en­ter­ing a

‘It’s not a re­dun­dancy’

con­tract with a fixed term – if they’re voted out it’s the end of the con­tract, not a re­dun­dancy.’

Last year’s re­port by Sir Christo­pher Kelly into MPs’ ex­penses rec­om­mended that mem­bers who step down vol­un­tar­ily should re­ceive only eight weeks’ pay.

But the new In­de­pen­dent Par­lia­men­tary Stan­dards Author­ity has not yet de­cided whether to re­form the sys­tem in time for the next elec­tion.

A sep­a­rate re­port by the Se­nior Salaries Re­view Body in 2007 also rec­om­mended that MPs ought to be treated ‘like or­di­nary cit­i­zens who re­ceive re­dun­dancy pay­ments if they are forced to leave their jobs in­vol­un­tar­ily, other than for poor per­for­mance’.

David Cameron’s spokesman said: ‘My un­der­stand­ing is that these are con­trac­tual en­ti­tle­ments. Clearly, Ipsa will be look­ing at the whole regime and mak­ing rec­om­men­da­tions for the fu­ture.’

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