On MP\’s expenses claims for first class travel

I\’m not sure I\’d get all that bothered over this (unlike last time I write about it when I didn\’t understand it):

The loophole works because MPs are allowed to claim the cost of a first-class ticket if it is cheaper than the standard class “any-time” fare – the most expensive standard class fare, available for short-notice journeys.

A first class ticket bought at short notice would be more expensive than this type of ticket, and could not be claimed on expenses.

However, if the MP buys the first class ticket in advance then compares the price to what the standard class fare would have been at short notice, the first class ticket can work out cheaper – allowing the cost to be claimed back from the taxpayer.

There\’s got to be some rule about what is allowable and that seems as good as any other. I\’ve done the same myself on the London Bath run a couple of times. First class on the weekends being empty near enough and therefore cheap. At times it\’s £5 over the standard fare. The only slight pisser is that there\’s no free coffee on the weekends.

And as to this:

Chinyelu Onwurah, a Labour member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, has claimed for 13 first-class tickets worth either £254 or £294. The total cost was £3,627.

I really cannot get upset at our paying for someone to travel near the entire length of the kingdom for £300. It does seem reasonable enough that constituency to Parliament is paid for and that given the time it takes some space is available to spread out and work.

Of course, at the other end, I\’d be expecting the MP for Westminster to be walking to work and that for Streatham to be taking the Tube or something on the Sarf London railways. In second thank you Chuka.

11 thoughts on “On MP\’s expenses claims for first class travel”

  1. There are many things to be upset about in respect of payments to MP’s but first class rail travel on a 300 mile journey is not one of them. I can’t even get upset knowing it is a Labour MP using First Class.

  2. I forget the precise rule at one company (I think it was more than 2 hours of travel), but London to Newcastle is hardly unreasonable as 1st class.

    The simple answer to all this expenses malarkey is for MPs to quote for a contract to be MP, on the ballot paper, paid by the constituents. If someone can work out a way to save money, they’ll be a better deal than the next guy.

  3. Until quite recently my employer paid (more often, passed through to client) first class travel for all employees for rail, and business class on flights over 4 hours.

    The big difference between first and second is you can work in first. And with some degree of confidentiality. Our downgrade was palatable due to the vagaries of German employment law – business travel time is not work time unless you are actually working. So second class effectively completely externalised the cost of the travelling on to the employee (by taking away the choice to work), and got around the handful of clients who whinged about the trivial extra cost (f/c is usually between 20% and 50% more expensive in Germany – low enough that I often pay my own upgrade on business trips).

  4. So yeah, it is completely pathetic to complain about MPs using first class. I wouldn’t even begrudge the honourable member for Streatham a cab.

    Anecdatally the only time I met an MP on a plane he was in economy. And I saw Frank Field in Pret a Manger last weekend.

  5. Comfortably under half actually Dearieme: Newcastle is about halfway from London to ~Dundee and there is a LOT of Scotland North of there…

  6. You can fly LHR-NCL for £50. I’d even let them have a taxi to the airport, and it would still be under £300. I mean, she had to book the first class tickets in advance, so why not book a flight in advance? Don’t like airport security? MPs are the only ones who can do anything about it! (EU blah blah blah)

  7. I don’t have problem with MPs travelling business class when on business. (I find it ludicrous that the Chancellor doesn’t travel business class when on duty.)

    However I have serious problem with said MPs gaming the system and then getting morally outraged over tax avoidance.

  8. @ dearieme
    Tim is a pendant
    Her majesty has two kingdoms within these shores (as well as many overseas) – the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland.

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