MPs urged to hand expenses details to their local paper

Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman has said MPs should be allowed to redact the personal details from their own expense receipts and hand them over to local reporters as soon as possible.

Harman, also Commons Leader, said many MPs wished to publish their own expenses in their local newspaper but were currently unable to make changes to the electronic copies of receipts.

She said that, in the meantime, MPs could invite local reporters to come to the House of Commons and read their receipts with the personal information “crossed out”.

At Commons exchanges on upcoming business, Harman said a “great many MPs” had been asked by their local newspapers to publish their own expenses and MPs wanted to do this for their constituents.

However it was currently impossible to individually amend the electronic data, which involved information such as the bank statements of MPs’ staff, she said.

“What we need to do, and I’ve already asked the Clerk of the House about this this morning and he’s having discussions with the House authorities, is to try and get a situation where we can then have, not only a read-only copy but a copy where we can actually pass it on to our local paper but with the bits that are genuinely personal crossed out,” she said.

“That’s not the situation at the moment and I think honourable members will just have to say to their local newspapers either that they can come in and read the personal copies with bits crossed out which are personal … or just simply wait for the House of Commons to enable us to do it on an electronic basis.”

Tony Lloyd, the Labour MP for Manchester Central and chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party, said today that he will hand all of his expenses details over to his local newspaper next week – and urged colleagues to do the same.

Lloyd said that it was “very important” that MPs act on their own initiative to put their expenses into the public domain as a matter of urgency instead of waiting for House of Commons authorities to release them.

He said he would hand his expenses over to the Manchester Evening News next Monday at 2pm.

After details of expense claims were leaked to the Daily Telegraph, the House of Commons Commission said it would bring forward their official publication from the scheduled date in July.

However, a lengthy redaction process means that they are still unlikely to appear until June.

Lloyd said: “I am firmly of the view that it is very important that we each seek to put our expenses into the public domain as a matter of urgency.

“I judge it unlikely that the house will publish these expenses this month and I do not think it wise to wait longer than necessary for something that is certainly going to be published soon, and is already in the hands of a national newspaper.”

He added: “In my view it is important that we publish these expenses ourselves, as a first step to meeting our constituents’ anger on these issues.

“So my advice is that colleagues find a way to get redacted claims and receipts published in some form as soon as possible. A number of colleagues have done this already.”

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