Disclosure of MPs' expenses heads for High Court

The battle over MPs' expenses claims was heading for the High Court today after the House of Commons launched a late attempt to avoid disclosure.

The decision to appeal, over MPs' concerns that the publication of their addresses would present a security risk, prompted questions about the potential bill to the taxpayer. A spokeswoman said MPs feared that if their second home addresses were published they would be less inclined to speak their minds, which would "inhibit democratic debate".

The move is the latest twist in a three-year battle between the Commons and freedom of information campaigners for the release of the details of 14 MPs' Additional Costs Allowance (ACA).

It emerged earlier this month that the £23,000-a-year allowance can be used for a whole range of household items, including £10,000 kitchens and £6,000 bathrooms.

The Information Tribunal recently ordered the Commons to release the MPs' individual claims and said there was no reason why their second home addresses should not be revealed too.
But, after failing to secure a week-long extension to today's deadline for disclosure, the Commons lodged an appeal this afternoon.

Commons Speaker Michael Martin is said to have been "mindful" of MPs' concerns and took advice from the security services.

Expenses disclosure battle headed for High Court (The Independent, 25 March 2008)