Wednesday, 21 August 2013

David Morris: Putting the Expense into Expenses

I went down to my local shop today and bought the local newspaper, The (Morecambe) Visitor and I also picked up a free booklet with the title ‘David Morris Reporting Back, Autumn 2012’. I appreciate it when an MP lets you know what they are doing, particularly in their holidays but I think he meant 2013 and if he can get the year wrong then what else is possible?
The front page of his booklet told me that it was ‘delivered free at no cost to the taxpayer’. This seemed a little strange as it hadn’t been delivered. I had just picked it up off the newspaper rack. I can only guess that I will also receive another copy through my door and this is a shame because it looks like an expensive publication. It will also be expensive to deliver, either that or the local Tories have found many more volunteers to distribute it throughout the constituency. I suspect that 2012 is a typo even so they will be hard pushed to deliver the booklet even if they have more than three months to deliver it.
The Visitor’s headline was ‘Our MP claims the second highest expenses claim in the UK'  and on page three we get a full breakdown of his expenses. I think it is fair to say that the taxpayer has not paid for the booklet but what have we paid for?
A total of £22,982 was spent on travel. Just that one figure, on its own, is more than most people working in Morecambe will earn in a year.   It's about £63 per day, for each and every one of the 365 days in a year, or £442 per week. But David says "I always travel on the cheapest return ticket possible.".  Off-peak return tickets from Morecambe to London can be had for £85.70 according to National Rail, and a 12-month season ticket allowing unlimited travel between Morecambe and any London station would cost £16,140 according to Northern Rail.
I won't go into detail on the other figures. It should suffice to say that the office costs were even higher than the transportation costs, and the accommodation costs were highest of all.
David defends the amount of his expenses by saying that  ‘I am just trying to do the best job I possibly can’ and ‘My expenses are only paid for legitimate items which relate to undertaking my job as the Member of Parliament for Morecambe and Lunesdale’. This really isn’t good enough. Other MPs are presumably also doing their best, and claiming only for legitimate items, and every single one of them manages to do it at less cost, with the exception of the MP for Orkney and Shetland, a region which is slightly harder to get to than Morecambe.

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