Letter: The cost of being in three places at once

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The Independent Online
Sir: Readers of your news item 'MEPs balk at cost of 'musical chairs' ' (19 December) may have been surprised at the apparently small extra cost of the European Parliament's activities being scattered around three different countries. A typographical error had reduced millions to thousands.

Furthermore, my study of the extra costs, which was the subject of your report, gave (in millions) these figures only as conservative estimates of the extra cost in 1991. Looking ahead to the next five years, I estimate the total cost to European taxpayers at between pounds 516m and pounds 663m. Even these estimates do not take account of the plan by the French authorities to build a larger debating chamber in Strasbourg, with 1,800 new offices, at a cost of pounds 282m.

The decision by the heads of government at Edinburgh purporting to locate the parliament's activities permanently in three separate cities, with its secretariat not in either of the two cities where the parliament meets, is sheer financial profligacy. The parliament itself has repeatedly called for a single seat, and I am glad it has now rejected the legal right of the heads of government to impose this ridiculous decision upon it.

Yours faithfully,

PETER PRICE

MEP for London South-east (Con)

Chislehurst, Kent

22 December

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