MPs ordered to provide more details of expenses

MPs will have to disclose how much taxpayers' money they get to pay their mortgages on their constituency homes, under a new ruling announced by Richard Thomas, the information commissioner.

Mr Thomas has ordered more detailed disclosure of MPs' spending on mortgages, furniture, telephone, gas and electricity bills, hotel expenses, and also on security to protect them from terrorist attacks or angry constituents. But he has stopped short of forcing MPs to disclose each bill, as required by the Scottish Parliament, in order to protect their privacy.

The ruling follows a series of freedom of information requests asking for details of expenditure on prominent MPs' and ex-MPs' second homes.

Parliament had refused to release any of the information and Mr Thomas would have been prevented from pursuing the issue if Parliament had passed the controversial private members' bill exempting itself from the FOI Act which failed to find a backer in the House of Lords.

It has also emerged that Martin Linton, the MP for Battersea and former Guardian journalist, has resigned as private parliamentary secretary to Lord Falconer, the lord chancellor, because he disagreed with the proposals to exempt parliament from the FOI Act.

MPs ordered to give more details of expenses (The Guardian, 15 June 2007)