MPs concerned with Speaker's expenses review as journalist prepares FOI challenge

MPs including Gordon Brown and David Cameron are growing frustrated with the “sedate pace” of a review into MPs expenses being led by Commons Speaker Michael Martin, the Times reports today.

Some members are concerned about the composition of the Speaker’s review team, which includes Tory whip David Maclean, who sponsored the failed Private Members’ bill to exempt Parliament from the Freedom of Information Act, and Lib Dem Nick Harvey, the official spokesman of the House of Commons Commission, which is was thought to have been supportive of that bill.

The Times also notes that the Speaker’s own expenses have sometimes been controversial:

Mr Martin has himself been a controversial figure since his election as Speaker in 2000. He has been the subject of repeated publicity over his expenses claims, including almost £50,000 in air travel and £4,000 in taxi bills run up by his wife Mary, past salary payments to her for constituency work and his claims for housing costs, despite having state apartments at the Commons. Mr Martin has also blocked fuller disclosure of MPs’ expenses claims.

The story comes as journalist and FOI campaigner Heather Brooke is preparing to take a Freedom of Information appeal to the Information Tribunal in an effort to force the House of Commons Commission to hand over details of MPs’ expenses under the Freedom of Information Act.

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