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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 May 2007, 12:10 GMT 13:10 UK
MP defends quad bike on expenses
David Maclean
Mr Maclean said he needs the bike to get around his constituency
The man behind a controversial bid to exempt MPs and peers from freedom of information laws bought a quad bike on parliamentary expenses, it is reported.

Tory MP David Maclean told the Mail on Sunday he uses the 3,300 bike to get around his large rural constituency.

Mr Maclean, who has multiple sclerosis, said he had "nothing to hide" and that Commons authorities approved the claim.

On Friday MPs pushed his Bill closer to becoming law - but its opponents said the move was "deeply hypocritical".

If passed, the FOI bill would effectively remove both the Commons and House of Lords from the list of public authorities obliged to release information under the 2000 act, which came into force in 2005.

Secrecy row

Mr Maclean, a former chief whip, says his bill is necessary to guard the confidentiality of MPs' correspondence with their constituents.

But critics say it could be used to keep details of MPs' allowances and expenses secret.

I have the biggest constituency in the country and I attend several big agricultural shows
David Maclean

Penrith and the Border MP Mr Maclean told the Mail on Sunday: "Yes, I do have a quad bike and yes, I have bought it on expenses."

He added: "I just asked [the Commons authorities] whether I was eligible for it and was told 'yes'.

"I have the biggest constituency in the country and I attend several big agricultural shows throughout the year."

'Really outraged'

He added that a mobility scooter would "probably get stuck".

On Sunday, Labour deputy leadership candidate Hazel Blears, who was not at the debate on Friday, was asked how she would have voted.

I think it's wrong for MPs to exclude themselves from legislation they apply to everyone else
David Willetts
Tory education spokesman

She replied that the government had been "neutral" on the Bill, but said some MPs were "really outraged" that their constituents' private business had been revealed.

She said she was "not interested in protecting the special privilege of MPs", but would not spell out if she would have voted for or against the Bill.

Asked the same question, Tory education spokesman David Willetts told the programme he thought the bill was "a mistake".

"I think it's wrong for MPs to exclude themselves from legislation they apply to everyone else," he said.

During the debate on Friday, Mr Maclean said it was necessary "to give an absolute guarantee" that MPs' correspondence on behalf of constituents "remains confidential".

But Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, who has led opposition to the Bill, said Friday's events made him "ashamed to be an MP".


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