Letter: Making allowances for MPs' expenses

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The Independent Online
Sir: As a secretary working for a Member of Parliament in his constituency office, I take exception to the throw-away remark in your leading article 'Self-important and self-rewarding' (16 July).

I am not 'a full-time party political propagandist paid for by the taxpayer'. In fact, I am not even a member of the Labour Party. I staff a very busy office, alone while the Member of Parliament is in London, dealing with correspondence, telephone calls and personal visits from constituents, many with problems needing urgent attention. The workload is such that I also work at home in the evenings and at weekends.

Having done this work for four years, I have never understood how an MP with an constituency outside London can possibly do the job well without an office in that constituency, where he or she is easily accessible and where people know their grievances will be dealt with sympathetically and speedily.

You are quite right in your assessment that people regard their MP as a social worker/Citizens' Advice Bureau/Ombudsman. You may not agree that this is the role he or she should play, but as long as it is expected, they must be able to fulfil the need. A well-run constituency office is an essential part of this.

Yours faithfully,

VALDA WATERFIELD

Handsworth, Sheffield

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