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Hiding MPs' expenses is bad for our pockets

PUBLISHED: 11:00 12 February 2009 | UPDATED: 16:08 25 August 2010

QUIDS IN: MP Jacqui Lait has plenty to smile about.

QUIDS IN: MP Jacqui Lait has plenty to smile about.

BAMBI, a microwave meal for one, an abandoned mitten left on a railing are all a bit sad. Wanting to know why your MP spends more than £700 of your taxes on travel expenses every month isn t.

BAMBI, a microwave meal for one, an abandoned mitten left on a railing are all a bit sad.

Wanting to know why your MP spends more than £700 of your taxes on travel expenses every month isn't.

Therefore, one reader was a little confused to hear that Beckenham MP Jacqui Lait thinks people who want to know where their taxes go are really just losers.

Bill Mason, of Dunbar Avenue, Beckenham, wrote to the Times: "You reported that the Orpington MP John Horam is in favour of all MPs' expenses being made public."

The article was written when MPs were given the chance to vote on a proposal to protect expenses from being picked apart by Freedom of Information Act requests.

He continued: "Beckenham MP Jacqui Lait thinks that the public wanting to know this is 'a bit sad', so she is evidently not in favour of such disclosure.

"Which one of them is right?"

A good question. Not too tricky to answer, but we'll let you decide for yourself anyway.

When the Derek Conway scandal pressured the Conservative Party into publishing three months of its MPs' expenses last July, it emerged that Ms Lait was hardly our most frugal MP. For some reason a month's worth of most of her expenses were missing...

However it works out that whereas Mr Horam was spending £152 a month on travel, Ms Lait spent £727.

You see, the Beckenham MP lives in East Sussex with her husband, the leader of East Sussex County Council, leaving a frightfully long commute to her publicly paid-for constituency flat.

And whereas Mr Horam claimed £457 a month for his Additional Costs Allowance, which covers his second home, Ms Lait spent £743 a month.

Ms Lait saves about £60 a month by having her flat in outer London - you wouldn't want her to drive to East Sussex from central London, would you?

For some reason her bills didn't deliver the same value for money as Ms Lait spent £40 more on utility bills and repairs a month. Perhaps Mr Horam could save her a few bob by recommending a plumber.

But we really cannot explain why Ms Lait claimed £369 a month for 'other' expenses - she would not comment on them at the time.

Mr Horam spent £60 a month on 'other' bills.

Call us sad for caring, but we think withholding this information could turn out to be tragic for the taxpayer.

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