Monday, March 26, 2007

Should MPs have an extra £10,000 communications allowance?

There is a proposal before the House of Commons that MPs should award themselves and extra £10,000 "communications allowance" for writing to constituents.

Greg Hands, Tory MP for Hammersmith and Fulham, makes a very powerful argument on Conservative Home against this proposal. He believes that this would increase the advantage which sitting MPs have in campaigning for re-election. He also points out that MPs already have a postage allowance; the average annual amount claimed in postage is, and I quote,

"about £4,000, but some Labour MPs claim far more. Hendon Labour MP Andrew Dismore claimed £25,146 last year, equal to sending 83,000 letters, or 612 for every day Parliament sat last year."

There has to be a balance between giving MPs enough secretarial and support to allow them to do their job properly and giving them so much that you give sitting MPs an unfair advantage.

Most of the people who have commented on Greg's "Conservative Home" article agree with him - as I am inclined to - but the one dissenting voice makes a telling point. Alexander Drake argues that "additional resources given to MPs will be far more valuable to the Opposition than to the Government. The Government has massive resources to draw on and by comparison we have zip in order to get our message across."

I would be interested to know if any readers of this blog have views on the subject.

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