£10million in dirty money
‘Golden goodbyes’ for former MPs caught up in the expenses scandal
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.’