Not voting for Christmas to come early

by Stephen Tall on March 29, 2007

Yesterday, the House of Commons debated the ‘Communications Allowance’, a £10,000 a year public subsidy to be given to MPs to help them hold on to their seats improve their dialogue with their constituents.

Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson summed the arguments against the measure succinctly and well:

As a Member of Parliament, I believe that communication is incredibly important. As a former marketing manager, perhaps I know more than many the benefits of good communication. Those of us who oppose the allowance do not say that ensuring that we are in touch with our constituents, reporting back and making sure that people in our constituencies are engaged in politics are not important parts of a Member of Parliament’s job. Far from it. My problem is the cost that the taxpayer will incur. Through interventions, I have already expressed my disappointment that the communications allowance will cost an extra £6 million, with a perhaps an additional £1 million in increased postage costs. That means that the taxpayer must bear the brunt of an additional £7 million. … Some hon. Members may suggest that a forthcoming general election is a factor. I urge hon. Members to oppose the allowance.

Here’s the full roll-call of honour of those Lib Dem MPs who did oppose the allowance:

Baker, Norman; Barrett, John; Brooke, Annette; Bruce, rh Malcolm; Carmichael, Mr. Alistair; Clegg, Mr. Nick; Farron, Tim; Goldsworthy, Julia; Harris, Dr. Evan; Heath, Mr. David; Holmes, Paul; Horwood, Martin; Howarth, David; Hughes, Simon; Huhne, Chris; Laws, Mr. David; Leech, Mr. John; Öpik, Lembit; Rennie, Willie; Sanders, Mr. Adrian; Stunell, Andrew; Swinson, Jo; Taylor, Matthew; Webb, Steve.

The full list from the division lobby of ayes and noes is available here.