Sir: Those of your correspondents interested in bicycle allowances (Letter, 19 August) may like to know that I wrote to the Leader of the House, Tony Newton, two weeks ago proposing that MPs should be paid a bicycle allowance of 20p per mile. (I also suggested that the MPs' car allowance should be reduced by 20p per mile. The maximum mileage rate, which is paid for a large-engined car, is currently 72.2p per mile.)
I asked some Parliamentary questions in the last session about the amount claimed by civil servants in government departments for bicycle allowance. Only one department - the Ministry of Defence - would admit to meeting bicycle claims, and that was only a paltry pounds 600 pa. Some ministers did not even know what their departments spent, and claimed it would be too difficult and costly to find out. These included Gillian Shephard at the Department for Education, Brian Mawhinney when he was Secretary of State for Transport, and Michael Heseltine as President of the Board of Trade.
The Government spends well in excess of pounds 100m a year on travel costs. Allowances for MPs' travel is additional. It is time public figures set an example and demonstrated that cycling is healthy, fun and helps reduce pollution.
MP for Cambridge (Lab)