Friday, May 29, 2009

Clegg's travel expenses as an MEP?

I've just been out and about at an appointment and was listening to Radio Five Live. Nick Clegg was on and the subject was, as you'd expect, expenses. One caller rang in and asked Clegg about how much he had claimed in expenses during his time as an MEP, and the response nearly caused me to crash the car because of what he said.

Clegg started to explain how, as an MEP, he got quite a few allowances, some of which he didn't take - like the second pension. However, he got on to the subject of travelling and explained how he would fly from East Midland airport to Brussels and Strasbourg. He mentioned how the budget airlines did really good deals.

All sounds good right? Using budget airlines etc. However he then went to explain how the allowance for travelling was stupidly high and he could have flown first class every time on a big name carrier but chose not too. At this point I was thinking, well that's good, not excessive, he only used his travel allowance to fly as cheaply as he could.

Then, and this is the bit that threw me, he said that he was clever and put all that extra travel allowance money aside and used it for his office instead. Now, you may be shocked to hear that, and think it's a bit of a fiddle - after all, its not an office allowance its a travel allowance. However, I've just learnt that travel allowances for MEPs are actually flat rate based on distance to Brussels and Strasbourg; and - this is the scary bit - MEPs are allowed to keep what they don't spend of that flat rate.

So, Nick Clegg, flew cheap (good), but took all the money anyway (bad), and all "within the rules".

How much he must have taken precisely is not known, but its a bit rich for him to be lecturing sanctimoniously about the terrible expenses system in Westminster, whilst simultaneously admitting that when he was in Brussels he used to essentially "pocket the difference" (within the rules natch) from the cost of his flights and his flat rate travel allowance. No?

Update: Apparently the rules are going to be changing for MEPs very soon so they won't be able to keep money that is leftover in their travel allowance.

Update II: From the comments, Gawain Towler notes that Clegg will have also received £4500 a year for office expenses already. Leading to the conclusion that if he had to top it up it must have been a really crap office.


Anonymous said...

To make matters worse, he does not have blond hair and big tits.

Anonymous said...

You've got to love 'em haven't you? They all a bunch of money grabbing, expense claiming, quango creating w@nkers.

They should hang their heads in shame.

Anonymous said...

He's got a blog with unmoderated comments. Tell him what you think.

Half The Story said...


jailhouselawyer said...

According to Nigel Farage on Question Time last night all MEP gets the cost of first class travel expenses plus a bit extra, and those on the fiddle fly Easy Jet etc. So, Nick Clegg is an expenses fiddler. So much for his holier than thou attitude!

Anonymous said...

The EU elite need to keep these bastards well paid with great perks so that they do what they are told. They're sell-outs.

Money does seem to buy any and everything these days. MPs, MEPs are living proof of that.

Gawain Towler said...

Hold on, he put it to use in his office. What to go along with the £4,500 he got specifically for office expenses already.

Must have been a shit hot office.

Demetrius said...

Truly the lunatics are in charge of the madhouse. It gets more insane by the day.

MakeRealChange said...

So he had choices here didn't he.

The travel is about his personal comfort. The office is about being efficient and serving the consituents, researching the issues and working hard.

He could have travelled first class but didn't. He decided to give his constituents a first class service as MEP instead.

What a horrible holier than thou MEP. Fancy him thinking of his constituents rather than getting a moat, servants' quarters or a duck house. Disgusting.

Anonymous said...

So you wanted him to pocket the money himself like the other MEPs.

Stop clutching at straws and concentrate on the real crooks.

Read between the lines said...

Update: Apparently the rules are going to be changing for MEPs very soon so they won't be able to keep money that is leftover in their travel allowance.

errrr, ummmmm: so now they'll fly first class instead? BIG improvement!

ukipwebmaster said...

MEPs allowances:

Thats News said...

So Nick Clegg is just another troughing Hoon? Time he kept his trap shut about anyone else, I think.

Well spotted, by the way!

Anonymous said...

To be pedant, was he getting travel expenses or a travel allowance? There is a big difference in the two.

Expenses merely reimburse you for justifiable outgoings. You should not make a profit on the process.

An allowance is a fixed sum for a specific purpose allowed by your employer. If you work within it, good luck. However, if you spend more then the difference is down to you.

Norfolk Blogger said...

How is Clegg like Hoon ? It sems to me that office expenses are totally different from pocketing profit.

If he spent more on his office becoming more effective than that is totally different from pocketing cash.

It strikes me that this is party political desperation in order to fling mud at Clegg whilst every day another Tory is forced to quit.

Anonymous said...

Some of you need to live in the real world of work. Loads of companies pay a flat rate, if you choose to slum it, you pocket the differemce. I knew my HGV drivers slept in their cabs and pocketed the £45 hotel allowance.

Hubert said...

Clegg faced a choice of making the travel claim or not. He did, it was a flat rate allowance (i.e. the sum was fixed for the activity, it did not get varied by the actual costs incurred). Had he not claimed, he would have been meeting wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred costs from his own pocket - which does not seem right.

Perhaps most MEPs just keep the excess £ for themselves - Clegg did not but spent the money on meeting wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred costs for his MEP's office. This seems fair enough - and what were the reasonable alternatives?

Clegg caused public money to be spent for public service rather than be accumulated for private gain. Why do you think you have a point exactly?

Tony Sharp said...

On Five Live earlier this week it was explained how a new MEP flew from his Scandanavian city to Brussels. He submitted a receipt for the EUR500 return flight and was told that the flat rate for his location was EUR2000.

No receipt was required and he could keep what he did not spend. Based on the number of journeys he made, he was able to pocket over EUR4000 per month. He has been donating the money - our taxes - to charity rather than keeping it.

Anonymous said...

The problrm wwith only bein able to claim 'actuals'is that people will just book the most expensive flight within their allowances, so no money saved. The civil service did it over a decade ago with hotel bills. The result was that that rather booking into a cheap B&B and pocketing the rest(not a much really.... about £15 quid a night When they changed the rules they had to actually set a highr rate which would pay for a hotel rathr than a B&B and as a result staff would find the best hotel they could up to the higher limits. Far higher cost to the tax payer.

If Nick Clegg ddn't personally profit from using low cost air travel and redirected the money into the running of his office then who has lost out?

Rocksteady Eddie said...

Nick Clegg is an opportunist nothing wrong with that, but his claims that MP's who have stood down because of the expenses debacle should leave with nothing is I believe the correct procedure because otherwise they are being rewarded for criminal activity. It is time for a clean sweep of Parliament, and local authorities who are run by the same parties and are just as corrupt.
Talking of opportunists, we can start on 4th June by voting in the only party not involved in any sleaze but I cannot tell you who they are cause dizzy doesn't like it. for a clue and a laugh check out youtube

Libertas said...

Farage and other UKIPpers would routinely fly Ryanair from Stansted to Baden-Baden, at bargain-basement rates, and then get a taxpayer-funded European Parliament limo to shuttle them to Strasbourg. How much have they trousered in travel payments in the last five years?