I was both delighted and dismayed today to receive a communication from the House of Commons authorities indicating to me that a Freedom of Information request had been placed in respect of the allowances I received under the Additional Costs Allowance from 1997 to 2002 (why only till then? I was an MP till 2005). Delighted, because it gives me the opportunity to reproduce the figures kindly supplied to the questioner by the House, as follows:
These figures "relate to the total claimed from the Additional Costs Allowance (from which the cost of staying away from the main home can be made) in 2001/2 and 2002/3". The reply concludes "No other information is held."
Oh yes it f***ing is. Payroll records are held. From 1997 to 2001 I claimed a total of approximately £12,000 a year (the allowances were a bit lower in those years) - all those amounts were in respect of having a place to stay in London - obviously if I had had no place to stay in London I could not have claimed the allowance, because that would have been fraudulent.
Dismayed, because the information is publicly available if you follow this link, as the reply indicates : it says "this has been taken from the data previously published on the Parliamentary website and therefore already in the public domain" - so how much did it cost the public purse for whichever f***wit without the nous to download the information from there and remind the public of its existence on their own website or by other means to request the House to send me a two-page paper letter here in France, with the opportunity to comment on it or to question officers of the House about it, which I shall not do as the information is correct and I have supplemented it, see above? Just how much?
As a clue to the identity of the questioner I shall reproduce the request as sent to me by the House authorities, as follows:
"Please could you provide me with the following information:
The total amount of public money provided to the ex-MP Jane Griffiths between the years 1997 and 2002 for the purpose of providing a home in London."
May I for ease of reference remind readers that Mr Salter supported a Tory Bill which if passed would have permitted MPs' correspondence to be exempted from the Freedom of Information Act. Fortunately the Government saw sense and refused to support such pernicious nonsense.
I hope all the above is helpful to those seeking transparency in these matters. Those who might be interested in the prudent use of public funds I fear will have no audience here.