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Page last updated at 11:18 GMT, Wednesday, 20 May 2009 12:18 UK

Daily Politics on MEPs' expenses

Where's the money gone?

Political parties explain what their MEPs have been claiming ahead of the 4 June polls across the UK and the EU.

On Tuesday's Daily Politics the Europe Minister, Caroline Flint, stated that Labour MEPs were "open to publishing their expenses".

And she added: "as far as I am aware that is something they have committed to do".

In light of these remarks, we asked the seven British parties who have MEPs the following questions:

1) Can you confirm the party policy in relation to MEPs' expenses?

2) Will you make public, before polling day on the 4th June, all expenses claimed by your party's MEPs since 2004 (the date of the last European Election)?

And, in alphabetical order of party name, this is what the parties had to tell us: click the party name below to jump straight to its response.

We did not set a word limit and some parties were more detailed in their replies than others.

David Cameron
David Cameron's MEPs provide a breakdown of staff costs on a website

The Conservative Party replied:

"Conservative MEPs are the most transparent of all British MEPs on expenses and allowances. Unlike Labour, Lib Dem and UKIP MEPs, Conservative MEPs voluntarily provide a detailed breakdown of who they employ (including whether they employ family members) and a breakdown of office, travel and subsistence claims in a 'Right to Know' form which is published online.

We have been doing this since last summer and have been urging other political parties to follow our lead. For details of the MEPs Right To Know Form:

And despite already being the most transparent British party in the European Parliament, we are going further still. This week, all Conservative euro candidates signed a pledge to provide even more detail of their expenditure, including publishing every taxpayer-funded journey they make.

Our MEPs will also now follow strict new rules regarding interest groups and lobbyists. For details of the pledge signed by all euro election candidates

Because the European Parliament operates on the basis of allowances to MEPs it would not be possible to give retrospective details in the way suggested.

However, we will continue to do everything we can to increase overall transparency and campaign for other parties to follow suit."

GREEN PARTY: 2 MEPs elected in 2004

Caroline Lucas
Caroline Lucas penned her party's response

The Green Party replied:

"1) Confirm the Green Party's policy in relation to MEPs' expenses?

Even though some long-overdue reforms are finally being made to the system of MEP expenses, they still remain open to abuse, and further changes are urgently needed. The Green Party believes that the European Parliament's expenses procedure should be much more accountable to the public, and the Green Group in the Parliament has voted time and time again for changes to the system to make it fairer, more transparent, and protected from abuse.

As long ago as 2004, Greens urged that that there should be an obligation on MEPs to provide supporting documents for at least 50% of the General Allowance - but we were unable to find a majority for this proposal in Parliament.

As a member of the cross-party Campaign for Parliamentary Reform (CPR), I have called for the introduction of an efficient and transparent system for reimbursing members' expenses. Greens have also campaigned to abolish the European Parliament's monthly move to Strasbourg, which is both hugely costly and environmentally damaging, and to improve working conditions for parliamentary staff.

Not before time, changes are finally being made to the expenses system. Thanks to the pressure brought about by the Greens and others, the rules for MEP travel allowances will be changed as of July 2009, so that MEPs will be reimbursed for the actual cost of a journey, rather than on the basis of a lump-sum - a change that Greens argued should have been introduced several years ago.

2) Make public, before polling day on the 4th June, all expenses claimed by Green Party MEPs since 2004 (the date of the last European Election)?

Note: There is detailed information available via

- The Green MEPs were amongst the first to make information on expenses publicly available, and last year we took the decision to have our annual accounts fully audited. Summaries of the 2008 EP General Allowance and the auditor's certificate are published on my website. This will be the standard practice for 2009 and beyond. It has not been required, nor is it common practice, to publish every item of expenditure since 2004, and so I do not have immediate access to these accounts. However, we are currently in the process of compiling the records for previous years, and this information will be available shortly.

- In the past, I have not published a detailed breakdown of my staff costs because this would involve divulging private information about what individual employees are paid. However, in the light of the increased interest in these issues, I am now working on presenting broad information about what salary bands my staff are working within. All of my staff costs are met by the £12,000 per month allowance. I employ 3 full time and 4 part time members of staff - none of whom are family members.

- MEPs receive a daily allowance of 298 Euros, when we attend official meetings in Brussels or Strasbourg, to cover accommodation and food. Under current rules, no receipts are required since this is a lump sum payment made if MEPs sign the official register. (During official plenaries of the Parliament, the amount is halved if a Member is not present for 50% of the roll-call votes.) MEPs from different countries get paid different salaries (the same as national MPs), so this flat rate has ensured that none are at a disadvantage in the day to day working life of the Parliament. This situation is set to change under the new rules in September, from which time all MEPs will be paid the same amount.

- The Green MEPs use a service provider (the Green MEP Trust) to manage our allowances, to ensure proper accounting for the public money we receive from the European Parliament. This is an independent body, administered by a voluntary board. MEP staff are employees of the Trust, and salaries are paid direct from the European Parliament."

Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown's MEPs publish an auditor's certificate on their web sites

The Labour Party replied:

"Labour MEPs have for nine years voluntarily sent their accounts to be independently audited, and the EPLP publish the auditors' certificates online to demonstrate that the accounts are in order.

Labour MEPs do not need gimmicks like pledges in order to behave ethically. The Tories' action shows that Cameron cannot trust his MEPs if he has to force them to be honest - this is understandable in light of recent cases, such as Den Dover.

Labour MEPs have long campaigned to reform the European Parliament's expenses system. They have also introduced measures to ensure that their own expenditure is correct, notably a requirement that each and every Labour MEP has their expenditure reviewed annually by an independent accountant to certify that all expenditure is within the European Parliament rules, applicable law and the additional guidance laid down by the EPLP.

Labour MEPs have voluntarily had their accounts audited since 2000. The Conservatives only took action in September 2008 following the resignation of their leader and whip due to an expenses inquiry.

MEPs do not receive an Additional Costs Allowance as in the Westminster Parliament, but a daily allowance when working in Brussels or Strasbourg, which precludes any claims by absentee MEPs.

Labour MEPs have regularly reviewed their regulations in light of discussions in Westminster and in the European Parliament.

In June 2009 new rules and regulations, which Labour supported, will come into force in the new Parliament. This will mean:

- All costs relating to MEPs' staff will be managed directly by the European Parliament or, in the case of staff based outside Brussels, by agents employed by them.

- Travel will be reimbursed by the European Parliament on the basis of actual costs incurred.

All Labour MEPs elected in the new Parliament are committed to publishing every six months a breakdown of their expenditure received under their European Parliament office allowance, and to publishing their auditors' certificate on the EPLP's and individual websites.

Labour MEPs will also publish the amount received for costs reimbursed for travel, and the number of days claimed and the amounts received in relation to their Daily Allowance."

Nick Clegg MP, Lib Dem leader
Nick Clegg's MEPs publish details on their own web sites

The Liberal Democrat Party replied:

"1) Confirm the Liberal Democrat's policy in relation to MEPs' expenses?

Liberal Democrat MEPs publish their independently audited annual accounts

Accounts for the last financial year or years are available on the websites of every Liberal Democrat MEP

This means that they have all voluntarily adopted higher standards of transparency than most MEPs have chosen to adopt or that the European Parliament currently requires

Liberal Democrats were in the forefront of the drive to adopt the new Members' Statute which streamlined the whole system of pay, tax, pensions and allowances and which will come into effect after the European election (which UKIP MEPs opposed)

All Liberal Democrat candidates for the European Parliament are committed to meeting those standards, and our draft guidelines for our MEP delegation are aimed at ensuring that we do (they may be amended after the election to guarantee this in light of the detailed application of the new system)

As Nick Clegg has made clear, all Liberal Democrat MEPS will be committed to the disclosure of all public moneys received

2) Make public, before polling day on the 4th June, all expenses claimed by Liberal Democrat MEPs since 2004 (the date of the last European Election)?

Our independently audited expenses for the past year are publicly available which is much more than UKIP and others have election. Any attempt to do so would be hurried, incomplete and misleading - and certainly could not meet the professional audited standards that are now in place for Liberal Democrat MEPs."

Ieuan Wyn Jones
Ieuan Wyn Jones's team said its MEPs will publish expenses quarterly online

Plaid Cymru replied:

"Plaid's MEP Jill Evans has actively campaigned to make the European Parliament more open and transparent voting against pay rises and for improved scrutiny.

All of our candidates have agreed that if elected they will publish their expenses on a quarterly basis online.

We are preparing to publish all relevant expenses online as a matter of priority."

Alex Salmond
Alex Salmond's party wants MEPS to adopt Holyrood rules

The Scottish National Party replied:

"SNP MEPs are committed to pushing the European Parliament to apply full Holyrood-style transparency to the allowances paid to all MEPs.

We are in contact with the European Parliament with a view to publishing SNP MEPs' expenses for the previous term and with the aim of publishing last year's expenses on MEPs websites as a priority.

All SNP candidates are committed, if elected on June 4th, to publishing their office, travel and subsistence expenses on a quarterly basis similarly to the members of the Scottish Parliament."

Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage's team were too busy campaigning to give a full response

The UKIP Party replied:

"Sorry but we are unable to provide you will a full breakdown of our MEPs expenses.

It is not that we do not think they should be published but because quite frankly at present we have neither the time or resources to provide them in the timescale you asked for.

When a small party starts fighting a major campaign then everybody is working flat out on that and becomes the only priority.

Can we point out however that one of our MEPs Godfrey Bloom has for past five years donated his daily allowance of £185 to local charities in his Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire and Humberside constituency."

Parties explain their MEPs' expenses

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