Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Hilary Benn: Ripped off?

Back in April, some may remember that the Cabinet had one of its away day meetings, this time in Glasgow. As has been reported in the mainstream media all of these out of London Cabinet meetings have come at a cost to the taxpayer.

One such example of the cost is Hilary Benn, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. His travel costs for getting to Glasgow and back on April 16th were £744.67 and he took an official with him who costed a further £500.25.

Now, this may seem like small fry, but given there are 24 members of the Cabinet, and if we assume they all travelled with an official at similar cost, that amounts to just over £24,000 for travelling alone for a quick meeting in Glasgow. What suprises me more about Hilary Benn's costs is that it can easily be done for half the price.

I could book now and fly tomorrow from Gatwick to Glasgow with Easyjet, leaving at 7.30am and returning at 16.36, for £225. Hilary Benn could've got the Gatwick Express from Victoria for free. He could, being the Envfironment Secretary, carbon offset the flight for £1.80. If he then added a generous £50 for taxis in Glasgow its done for less than £300.

So why did he cost over £700 and his official £500?

Note: This is not an "expenses" claim. This is Government spending on Government business hence the tag reference to "Hansard" and not "expenses"


Mark M said...

This is the thing that has struck me about all these MPs expenses. It's not particularly what they've claimed, it's been the cost of the claim.

There was the £350 SatNav, which even in 2005 would have been very expensive for such a device. Now there's travel costs that are double what they should be.

Whether they are claiming for things they shouldn't doesn't bother me so much as the fact that we, the taxpayer, aren't even getting value for money for the services we are paying for.

He could even have got the train from Euston to Glasgow the night before (~£110 return), stayed overnight in a hotel (~£50) and got the train back after the meeting. Add on the generous £50 of taxis and travel costs come to ~£210. Add on £160 for his official's train and hotel (they can share a taxi after all) and we have a grand total of £370 for the two of them. Even if you gave them some money to cover food it doesn't even come close to half the £1,200 it cost them.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

You surely don't expect a champagne socialist of Benn's stature to travel cattle class, do you?

dizzy said...

Mark, this is NOT an expenses claim. This is how much the Government spent for Government business.

Half The Story said...

What class did he fly, did he include taxis to and from home (for both of them) does it include accommodation, incidental expenses, some nice meals after and so on.

Mark M said...

Ok, cheers. Even so, the principle of Friedman's four ways of spending money remains the same. Spend someone else's money on yourself, and you'll have a good lunch.

Whether it's expenses or government business though, one of the biggest eye openers is the level of waste, in this case a cabinet away day that cost easily twice as much as it needed to. Yet, Gordon Brown still has the cheek to insist that you can't cut a penny of government spending without sacking doctors or nurses.

dizzy said...

Agreed Mark M. Waste I've been blogging about and highlighting for a while.

Millie said...

I have always felt sorry for her.
Why did daddy Tony make her dress up in boys clothes??

JMB said...

Quite a contrast...

Daily Mail

Spain's Queen Sofia gives British Royals a lesson in prudence - by taking £13 Ryanair flight to London


Anonymous said...

Check this out for a laugh