Without pre-empting Mick’s thoughts on Sinn Féin’s statement “in the interests of full disclosure” there are a few points worth noting. Firstly the amounts of money involved are already known or would be published anyway – the figures [for all MPs] going back to 2004 are online here. And a number of MPs do not avail of the recently introduced Communications Allowance including some, but not all, DUP MPs. Here the pdf of last year’s allowances claimed.What the SF statement seems to be targetted at is the Additional Costs Allowance
From the MPs Green Book,
“The Additional Costs Allowance (ACA) reimburses Members of Parliament for expenses wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred when staying overnight away from their main UK residence (referred to below as their main home) for the purpose of performing Parliamentary duties. This excludes expenses that have been incurred for purely personal or political purposes.”
For some MPs those costs include food.
But Sinn Féin’s arrangements involved their 5 MPs claiming back £108,000 last year for two rented properties with all costs apparently covered [including “cleaning” and “laundry”]. [Adds Exact amount claimed for 2007/8 = £105,131]
Whether they had stayed there or not.
The maximum ACA amount allowed in 2007/8 would have been 5 x £23,083 = £115,415.
From the Green Book again.
You must ensure that arrangements for your ACA claims are above reproach and that there can be no grounds for a suggestion of misuse of public money. Members should bear in mind the need to obtain value for money from accommodation, goods or services funded from the allowances.
You must avoid any arrangement which may give rise to an accusation that you are, or someone close to you is, obtaining an immediate benefit or subsidy from public funds or that public money is being diverted for the benefit of a political organisation.
Of course, they are treated differently to everybody else. If they weren’t they wouldn’t be able to claim the expenses they do. But they have neglected to mention the other allowances they can avail of, which covers the cost of policy formulation, in Ireland. [4 x 48,547 = 194,188]
Then there are the millions from elsewhere..