A local weekly newspaper was met with a wall of silence from three constituency MPs when it quizzed them about their massive expense claims.
But when the Kentish Times approached its local MPs, it found some of them less forthcoming.
The three Conservative MPs on the paper’s South East London and North Kent patch had nothing to say about their claims averaging £373,639 a year.
Beckenham MP Jacqui Lait has claimed the most over the last four financial years, pocketing a total of £526,445 in expenses including the second home allowance, staff costs and postage and stationery.
John Horam, MP for Orpington, claimed £458,215 in the same period whereas Bromley and Chislehurst MP Bob Neill claimed £254,949 in the two years he has been an MP, after he won the 2007 by-election.
But when approached by the Times not one of them volunteered to explain where the money goes, although Old Bexley MP Derek Conway and Eltham MP Clive Efford were happy to provide explanations.
The three MPs found themselves featured in a front-page splash headlined “Hey Big Spenders.”
Kentish Times group editor Melody Foreman wrote a leader column on the MPs’ expenses row suggesting cash could be saved if MPs sold second homes in the capital and shared rooms in the Houses of Parliament.
She said: “Why not sling in a few bunk beds and duvets and turn their already plush offices into studio flats? How can they then argue a case for the taxpayers to finance a second home?
“This week the Kentish Times series has let readers know just how much of their money has been poured into MPs’ bank accounts over the years.
“We know the reaction will be fierce and our letters pages bulging for many weeks on this issue.”
Sign of the Times (14/05/2009 09:34:34)
There’s always one isn’t there? Weeks behind everyone else in ‘revealing’ these expenses details, yet boasting about what a great scoop they’re giving their readers.
hilary (14/05/2009 12:22:26)
She should probably read the Telegraph for the details… and, while I’ve got no time for money-grubbing MPs, Ms Foreman should know that MPs’ offices are rarely plush. They are usually tiny, shared, and full of files.
Chris Gaynor (14/05/2009 14:44:16)
A joke on MPs expenses
> One day a florist goes to a barber for a haircut. After the cut he
> asked about his bill and the barber replies, ‘ I cannot accept money
> from you. I’m doing community service this week. ‘ The florist was
> pleased and left the shop.
> When the barber goes to open his shop the next morning there is a
> ‘ thank you ‘ card and a dozen roses waiting for him at his door..
> Later, a policeman comes in for a haircut, and when he tries to pay his
> bill, the barber again replies, ‘ I cannot accept money from you. I’m
> doing community service this week. ‘ The policeman is happy and leaves the
> The next morning when the barber goes to open up there is a ‘ thank
> you ‘ card and a dozen donuts waiting for him at his door.
> Later that day, a college professor comes in for a haircut, and when
> he tries to pay his bill, the barber again replies, ‘ I cannot accept
> money from you. I’m doing community service this week. ‘ The professor
> is very happy and leaves the shop..
> The next morning when the barber opens his shop, there is a ‘ thank
> you ‘ card and a dozen different books, such as ‘ How to Improve
> Your Business ‘ and ‘ Becoming More Successful. ‘
> Then, a Member of Parliament comes in for a haircut , and when he goes
> to pay his bill the barber again replies, ‘ I cannot accept money from
> you. I’m doing community service this week. ‘ The Member of Parliament
> is very happy and leaves the shop.
> The next morning when the barber goes to open up, there are a dozen
> Members of Parliament lined up waiting for a free haircut.
> And that, my friends, illustrates the fundamental difference between
> the citizens of our country and the Members of Parliament