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February 8, 2008

iPods, fish tanks and cornflakes – MPs’ expenses under the spotlight

By Patrick

The House of Commons is coming under increasing pressure to reveal exactly what MPs spend their expense allowance on.

As Press Gazette reports this morning, the Information Tribunal heard yesterday that MPs do not have to submit a receipt for expense claims of less that £250– and can claim up to £400 on food without a receipt.

The Daily Mail reports that Andrew Walker, head of the House of Commons Fees Office, told the tribunal that he had no way of knowing whether MPs were really buying groceries with their food allowance or iPods.

BBC political editor Nick Robinson says on his blog that he doesn’t “want to spend my journalistic life worrying over whether an MP prefers Kellog’s to ‘own brand’ cornflakes”.

But he appears to echo the thoughts of many journalists by saying he is “amazed that many MPs don’t appear to realise that the demand for more and more information stems from a view that their system of expenses is so obviously open to abuse.”

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