EXPENSES ROW: NORTH EAST LABOUR MPS WHO VOTED AGAINST REFORM OF EXPENSES NEED TO BE NAMED AND SHAMED

May 19, 2009 11:14 AM

Newcastle East Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesman Greg Stone has called on the media to scrutinise the record of the region's Members of Parliament on voting to reform the expenses system, following the lurid revelations of recent days.

The Lib Dems claim that half of the region's 28 Labour MPs voted against reform of the system in July 2008, by amending the Member Estimate Committee's recommendations.

The amendment removed clauses which would have improved internal and external audit of claims, prevented claiming without receipts, and would have blocked purchases of furniture and capital improvements for second homes.

The amendment was supported by 146 Labour MPs and 21 Conservatives, but no Lib Dems; the amendment eventually passed by 169 votes to 141.

More than half the Tyne & Wear Labour MPs supported the amendment, including

Newcastle MPs Nick Brown (who has the highest overall expense claim of any North

East MP) and David Clelland, all three Gateshead Labour MPs, and all three North

Tyneside Labour MPs.

They were joined by the Hartlepool MP, four out of the six Durham Labour MPs and both of the Northumberland Labour MPs.

Only four North East Labour MPs along with Liberal Democrat Sir Alan Beith supported the reform proposals and voted against the amendment.

A further 10 Labour MPs from the North East region did not attend the vote.

Reacting, Greg Stone said: "I expressed serious concerns on this matter at the time, but this issue has now become the centre of a major political crisis.

"It is all very well for MPs to belatedly claim that the system is terrible and needs reform, but an examination of the record shows that less than 12 months ago most of the North East's Labour MPs voted against reform and against scrutiny of expenses.

"Those MPs with an honourable record on this matter should be identified, whilst those who opposed reform will need to justify themselves to their constituents at the General Election.

"They must be judged on their record and not on their rhetoric."