20 May 2009

Caroline Lucas MEP on expenses

In the Green Party we are interested in using trains to improve public transports, most politicians in contrast are more concerned with the kind of trains that transport gravy...this is from Caroline Lucas's office on her expenses and approach to reform of EU MEP expenses.

In contrast to Caroline, one South East MEP Ashley Mote from UKIP was sent to prison for benefit fraud...any way green should be the automatic alternative to greed on June 4th.

Incidentally if elected I will publish my expenses, I live in a mobile home by the way I will continue to live in it if elected and no it does not have a moat. I have plenty of friends in Brussels, I am sure one of them would rent me a spare room.

There is detailed information available via Caroline's website at http://www.carolinelucasmep.org.uk/euro-parliament/#pay



The Green MEPs were amongst the first to make this information publicly available, and last year took the decision to have their annual accounts fully audited. The auditor’s certificate is available via Caroline's website too. You can also see a breakdown of how she has spent her general allowance in the past year and information about her travel expenditure. She is in the process of compiling the records for previous years, and this will be available shortly.

In the past, Caroline has not published a detailed breakdown of her staff costs because this would involve divulging private information about what individual employees are paid. However, in the light of the increased interest in these issues, she is now working on presenting broad information about what salary bands her staff are working within, and this will be on her website shortly. She can confirm that all staff costs are met by the £12,000 per month allowance, that she does not employ any members of her family, and that she has 3 full time and 4 part time members of staff.

Caroline owns one property, which is her family home. MEPs receive a daily allowance, when they attend official meetings in Brussels or Strasbourg, to cover accommodation and food. No receipts are required since this is a lump sum payment (298 Euro), made if MEPs sign the official register. During official plenaries of the Parliament, the amount is halved if a Member is not present for 50% of the roll-call votes.


The Green MEPs use a service provider (the Green MEP Trust) to manage their allowances, to ensure proper accounting for the public money they receive from the European Parliament. This is an independent body, administered by a voluntary board. MEP staff are employees of the Trust, and salaries are paid direct from the European Parliament.


As a member of the cross-party Campaign for Parliamentary Reform, Caroline has long called for the introduction of an efficient and transparent system for reimbursing members’ expenses. For example, as long ago as 2004, she demanded that there should be an obligation on MEPs to provide supporting documents for at least 50% of the General Allowance. The majority of members of the two biggest parliamentary groups, the Conservatives and Socialists, blocked this proposal.

Thanks to the pressure brought about by the Greens and others, the rules for MEP travel allowances will be changed as of July 2009, so that MEPs will be reimbursed for the actual cost of a journey, rather than on the basis of a lump-sum. Greens argued that this change should have been introduced years ago, but again, other parties have blocked their proposals.

Caroline has also been in the forefront of the campaign to abolish the European Parliament’s monthly move to Strasbourg, which is both hugely costly and environmentally damaging. You can see her report on this at http://www.carolinelucasmep.org.uk/2007/04/12/test-report-1/



The Green Party also has proposals for how the Westminster system could be improved, which we hope will go some way to renewing confidence in the political system. You can read more about these in Caroline's article about the recent expenses debacle at http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cif-green/2009/may/15/green-westminster-mps-expenses

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