Lib Dems call for transparency on North East ministerial "golden goodbye" payments

August 13, 2009 12:30 PM

Newcastle East Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesman Greg Stone has called for transparency over "golden goodbye" payments paid to North East Labour MPs who were sacked or resigned as ministers since 1997.

Figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats reveal that more than £1.4 million has been paid to departing ministers in "severance pay" deals after they were replaced in reshuffles or resigned over failures in office, despite the MPs continuing to draw their main MP salary. However, the Government is declining to reveal details of individual payments on the grounds that it is "personally confidential".

It has been reported that as many as 100 Labour ex-ministers have quit or been sacked from Government since 1997, picking up "severance payments" of up to £38,000 a time in addition to their £64,000 MP salary. Several have gone on to subsequently return to ministerial office.

North East Labour MPs who are believed to benefited from the scheme include former Prime Minister Tony Blair*, Lord Mandelson on two occasions (when he was MP for Hartlepool)*, Alan Milburn, Stephen Byers, Hilary Armstrong, Chris Mullin, Doug Henderson, and Nick Brown.

Greg Stone said "At a time when thousands in the North East are being made redundant and receiving derisory statutory compensation, fired ministers are picking up fat cheques for failure and in some cases, such as Nick Brown's, are subsequently returning to office to receive salaries of £40,000 as a junior minister and £78,000 as a Cabinet minister on top of their MP salary of £64,000"

"It is difficult to justify the claim that this information should be personally confidential given Gordon Brown's professed commitment to transparency in terms of parliamentary allowances. I think those MPs who have benefited from this cosy arrangement should be required to declare it".