An MP has slammed a fellow member of the House of Commons who claimed 20 pence in expenses for a one-mile bike ride, saying “it’s not like putting petrol in your car.”
The Sun reports that Labour’s Matt Western, the MP since 2017 for Warwick & Leamington, made expenses claims totalling £8.60 for 19 trips made on constituency business in 2018/19, including four of one mile where he claimed 20 pence for each one.
The newspaper points out that there is no suggestion of wrongdoing on Western’s part and he was fully entitled to claim the sums.
But it does seem that besides the claiming of £1,600 duck houses for ornamental moats, nothing quite seems to pique the mainstream media’s interest in MPs’ expenses as when they claim money back for travelling by bicycle – certainly, reimbursement of petrol does not seem to attract the same attention.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), which oversees expenses, has asked MPs to keep track of their journeys to make sure the claims they submit accurately reflect the mileage travelled and avoid overclaiming.
But one unnamed MP quoted by The Sun spluttered: “Your legs may hurt a little bit after going for a bike ride but it’s not like putting petrol in your car.”
Western, whose single biggest claim for cycling was a seven-mile journey for which he was reimbursed £1.40, said: “It’s important to send a signal out that you’re using a bike. It’s a paltry sum but better to encourage MPs to use their bicycles.
“I’m a keen cyclist,” he added. “It’s good for your health and good for the environment which helps reduce congestion and it’s quicker and you don’t have to worry about parking.”
The £8.60 claimed for cycling during the year is equivalent to just 0.29 per cent of his total travel expenses of £2,989.64 for the year according to the IPSA website– most of which were for train travel, but which also included £623.70 related to use of his own car.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.