An open letter to Nick Brown MP

October 13, 2009 2:45 PM

Westminster Clock Tower Big Ben / Houses of Parliament [Photo: Emma Cooley]Rt. Hon Nick Brown MP

House of Commons


13th October 2009

Dear Mr Brown,

I am writing to you in connection with the ongoing MP expenses affair and in light of the recent letter sent to MPs by Sir Thomas Legg as part of the review instigated by the Prime Minister.

Given that (presumably at your encouragement) a Newcastle East Labour party activist recently submitted a Freedom of Information request seeking disclosure of my council expenses over the past ten years - which I am happy to confirm were modest, legitimate and above board, being almost exclusively related to the cost of train travel on council business - over the past ten years, I feel it is reasonable to similarly call for information relating to your parliamentary expenses to be placed in the public domain.

I therefore call upon you to answer the following questions, which I believe are a matter of legitimate public interest.

1) Will you disclose the contents of the letter you have received from Sir Thomas Legg?

2) Given that your mortgage interest repayments on your Newcastle property which you claim as your second home amounted to circa £6600 in the 2007-8 claim period, do you believe it was legitimate to "top up" your additional costs allowance claim to within a whisker of the £23,083 maximum by submitting undocumented claims for other expenditure?

3) Many will find it unusual that the claims for these headings were for the same round numbers every month. What was covered by "repairs, insurance, and security" and "service and maintenance"? Can you provide any documentary evidence to substantiate these claims?

4) The Legg review appears to suggest that a £2000 annual limit for domestic and cleaning costs is reasonable. Do you support this view?

5) You are one of the few MPs to have claimed the maximum £400 per month allowance for food over an extended period. Can you provide any documentary evidence to substantiate these claims?

6) Given the precedent set by the Prime Minister, will you undertake to repay any expenses found to have been excessively or incorrectly claimed in this and previous years?

7) There are numerous reports that you chaired a meeting this morning of Labour MPs expressing dissatisfaction with the Legg review and with attempts to retrospectively reclaim expense payments. Do you support their objections to the Legg review, or will you seek to ensure it is implemented in full?

8) Do you agree that the reputation of Parliament has been severely tarnished over this matter and that it is essential to restore public confidence in the system?

I am sure you will acknowledge that this is an important and serious matter. Given that this matter involves public funds at a time of considerable constraint on the exchequer, I am sure you will accept that this is a matter of legitimate public interest.

I look forward to receiving your reply.

Yours sincerely

Greg Stone

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesman, Newcastle East constituency