MPs turn on Commons Speaker John Bercow for claiming £100,000 on jet-setting and chauffeured cars
The Speaker was revealed to have spent £84 on a two-mile trip to the expenses watchdog's office
Oliver Duggan has a BA in Politics and Parliamentary Studies from the University of Leeds and an MA in Newspaper Journalism from City University London. He works as a freelance reporter and editorial assistant for The Independent and i with a focus on Home Affairs and politics.
Friday 05 July 2013
Commons Speaker John Bercow has claimed almost £100,000 in travel and accommodation expenses in the last three years, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.
The staggering cost to the taxpayer includes £16,000 for regular journeys in his chauffeur-driven car and £63,000 on flights around the world for him and aides.
A total bill of £96,000, which does not include the £9,200 Speaker Bercow has claimed in his role as MP for Buckingham, was uncovered by MailOnline.
The majority of claims are accounted for by a string of excursions to parliaments around the world and school and university visits undertaken by the Speaker as part of a scheme to enhance political engagement among children.
But there are other, more embarrassing, outliers including a £23.68 taxi ride to the UK premiere of the Netflix series House of Cards and an £84.31 two-mile round trip to the Westminster offices of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority – the expenses watchdog.
He also charged for the near-£800 cost of returning from a family holiday in Devon in August 2011 to chair House of Commons debates about the English riots.
The single largest claim was for an £11,252.81 return business class flight for Mr Bercow and two staff to Ottowa for the G8 Speakers' conference in the first months after he was elected by MPs in 2010.
Further official trips in an ambassadorial role to Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, Greece, India, South Africa, Finland, Denmark, Germany, Lithuania, Austria and Romania at the invitation of foreign parliaments racked up the final cost.
MPs that have been chastised by the Speaker for loud jeering during Commons debates yesterday jumped on the opportunity to criticise Mr Bercow.
Tory MP Ian Liddell-Grainger, who had been incorrectly rebuked earlier this week, said: “Given that he seems to be anti-MPs, it is a little rich to discover that he is spending thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money, presumably being as rude as he can to other countries.
“Given his performance in the House, I hate to think what he is saying to Members of Parliament and officials around the world,” he added. “A lot of government ministers have given up cars. He shouldn’t be allowed to go around the world as an ambassador because his rudeness and ignorance of parliamentary niceties and behaviour must be damaging Britain’s interests around the world. The Foreign Office should warn countries that he is coming.”
Meanwhile, fellow Conservative MP Rob Wilson said: ‘The Speaker has a role in representing parliament but he shouldn't use this as an excuse to go flying around the world at the taxpayers’ expense. In such difficult economic times this looks, to the public, quite extravagant. That is not good for Parliament's reputation, whatever the motive for the visits.”
A statement from the Speaker's Office said it was an important part of Mr Bercow's duties to represent Parliament abroad and foster good relations with fellow parliamentarians. It was later confirmed the sitting Speaker’s expenses would be published on a quarterly basis.
A House of Commons spokeswoman added: “The trips abroad are following invitations from other parliaments and to attend international parliamentary conferences. The vast majority of travel is economy class, except for long-haul flights and where other classes may be best value for money or match timing requirements.”
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