MEPs: Millionaires after one term?

Personally, I’m getting a bit bored with sensational tabloid stories claiming that an MEP can trouser a million pounds in just one five-year term.  They seem to start from the assumption that all the available allowances go straight into the Member’s back pocket.
 
If you take anyone responsible for employing staff — say the Managing Director of a PLC — you can argue that if they fraudulently diverted their company’s salary budget into their own pockets, they could make a great deal of money (until they got caught).  And the same is true of MEPs.  But in my case (and the same is true of most MEPs) I actually spend my staff allowance on employing staff, and the staff budget is managed by an independent firm of accountants.  I never lay a finger on it.  In the same way I spend my office allowance on running my office.
 
Conservative MEPs have been in the forefront of transparency on the expenses issue.  In January we published our expenses details on the web.  Check out www.conservativeeurope.com/news, and look for the Right-To-Know forms.
 
There has been legitimate criticism of the arrangements in the European parliament for MEPs’ travel expenses, and Conservative MEPs have campaigned, successfully, for a more straightforward and transparent régime.  From this year, all claims for travel expenses will be based on actual receipts, and the reimbursement will be whatever the MEP actually paid for the ticket.  Counter-intuitively, this change will actually cost the parliament, and the tax-payer, more than the current system.  But at least it will be seen to be fair and transparent, and may result in less tabloid sniping.
 
For day-to-day living, I rely on my salary.  And the fact is that my MEP salary today, in 2009, after ten years of inflation, is still less than I was earning in 1998 as Managing Director of a local textile company.

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