NORTH EAST LABOUR MPs VOTE AGAINST GREATER AUDITING OF EXPENSES

July 4, 2008 2:25 PM

North East Liberal Democrat campaigners have expressed shock and disappointment after it emerged that 14 of the 28 Labour MPs in the region voted against proposals to implement a tougher regime of auditing of MP's expenses.

No Liberal Democrat MPs voted against the move, but a total of 146 Labour MPs and 21 Conservative MPs opposed plans to introduce greater scrutiny of MP expenses, following reports that MPs could claim up to £250 without producing receipts, as well as significant sums for home improvements and furnishings.

When basic salary (£61,820) and the additional cost allowance (£22,110) is taken into account, a typical MP earns 324% of the average UK wage (£23,244) even before expenses are added.

Newcastle Liberal Democrat Councillor Greg Stone said: "At a time when ordinary people are increasingly suffering through higher food and fuel prices and below-inflation pay settlements, and the least well-off have been clobbered by Gordon Brown's 10p tax scandal, voters will be aghast that so many of the North East's Labour MPs wish to protect their perks and keep their snouts in the trough.

"It is little wonder that the public have so little faith in politicians.

"It is deeply disappointing that so many of the region's Labour MPs feel that it is more important to keep the gravy train running than to introduce more parliamentary transparency. They have voted to protect their own interests and to disregard the interests of the public who fund their lifestyles.

"If they are not prepared to be held accountable by the Parliamentary Fees Office, they must be held accountable by the region's voters at the next election."

More than half of Tyne and Wear's 13 Labour MPs voted against greater auditing, including every MP in Gateshead and North Tyneside:

Nick Brown (Newcastle East), David Clelland (Tyne Bridge), David Anderson (Blaydon), Stephen Byers (Tyneside North), Alan Campbell (Tynemouth), Bill Etherington (Sunderland North), Sharon Hodgson (Gateshead East and Washington West).

They were joined by four out of the six County Durham Labour MPs (Kevan Jones - North Durham, Roberta Blackman-Woods - City of Durham, John Cummings - Easington, Phil Wilson - Sedgefield), both of the Northumberland Labour MPs (Denis Murphy - Wansbeck, Ronnie Campbell - Blyth Valley), and Hartlepool MP Iain Wright.

Newcastle Central MP Jim Cousins and Newcastle North's Doug Henderson did not vote.