MP's protest after being scooped by MoS

An MP protested today that information he sought about armed forces separation allowances had appeared in a Sunday newspaper after he had been given merely a holding answer in the Commons two days earlier.

Tory Mark Lancaster (Milton Keynes NE) raised the issue on a point of order after the Mail on Sunday had reported that changes in allowances could leave troops serving on the front line in Iraq and Afghanistan out of pocket.

This could mean, according to the newspaper, that troops serving two six-month tours of duty spread over two years could lose £2,341 before tax as a result of the change.

This came two weeks after Defence Secretary Des Browne announced a new tax-free bonus of £2,240 for soldiers in danger areas.

Lancaster said today he realised the Defence Ministry were "rightly embarrassed" about this but insisted that he should have been given the information, which was available, about the cut in separation allowance before it was given to a newspaper.

Speaker Michael Martin said he would rather the information had been given to the MP first.

Commons Leader Jack Straw said he would look into the matter.

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