MPs refuse to reveal expenses details

THREE of the region's MPs have refused to release details of their expenses, claiming that data protection laws bar them from publishing any information which could identify the pay and conditions of their staff.

Graham Dines

THREE of the region's MPs have refused to release details of their expenses, claiming that data protection laws bar them from publishing any information which could identify the pay and conditions of their staff.

Bob Russell, Bernard Jenkin and Simon Burns have rejected applications by the East Anglian Daily Times to see their detailed claims. A fourth MP John Gummer says he is waiting for final documents to be released to him and says he is prepared to anything which helps restore the reputation of parliament.

Despite an undertaking from the EADT that it has no intention of printing confidential details relating to bank and building society accounts of secretaries and researchers, some MPs say they have been advised by House of Commons officials that publication would raise problems.


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Mr Russell (Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester), Mr Jenkin (Essex North) and Mr Burns (Chelmsford West) insist that their expenses claims cannot be made public until they are released by parliament.

Their attitude is in stark contrast to the co-operation given the EADT by Tory MPs Richard Spring (Suffolk West), Tim Yeo (Suffolk South) and David Ruffley (Bury St Edmunds), and Labour members Chris Mole (Ipswich) and Bob Blizzard (Waveney). They forwarded the necessary information, with confidential items blacked out - or redacted.

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The expenses of Brooks Newmark (Conservative, Braintree) and Douglas Carswell (Conservative, Harwich) will be published in the next few days.

Mr Russell said: “I am not being awkward. I have made no embarrassing claims but it is a question of identification which is causing me concern.”

Mr Jenkin said: “I have been advised that if I issue the information and the media electronically reverses the redaction and publishes it, I will be liable under data protection laws. My staff is very worried.

“No such problems will arise when the Commons eventually releases the information - it becomes the responsibility of parliament if confidential laws are breached, not mine.”

Mr Burns said: “All the information will be in the public domain within three weeks. That's not long to wait.”

Mr Gummer, MP for Suffolk Coastal, who was one of the first MPs to have details of his expense claims published in the expose masterminded by The Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, said key documents have not been delivered to him by the House.

Asked if he intended to pay back the money he controversially claimed for catching moles at his Debenham home, Mr Gummer said: “I have never claimed anything which was against the spirit or the letter of the Commons regulations.

“I have not ruled out anything which helps to restore the reputation of parliament.”

Sir Michael Lord (Suffolk Central & Ipswich North) has also been asked to release his expenses, but he has failed to respond to the request.

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