Battle for details of MPs' second home expenses goes on

Three years ago Ben Leapman, Home Affairs Correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, asked the House of Commons for details of MPs' second-home expenses under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Information Commissioner ordered partial disclosure, then the Information Tribunal went further by demanding full disclosure. Last week it looked like the wait for the information was finally over. But the deadline for the Commons to release the paperwork came and went, and the following day the Speaker, Michael Martin, and his House of Commons Commission defied the rulings and appealed to the High Court. Now, Leapman argues, thousands more pounds of taxpayers' money will be wasted as lawyers thrash out the argument all over again.

While the taxpayer funded lawyers' bills on both sides of the argument, Leapman was the only party in the case who was not legally represented; he put his case in person at the tribunal, and he says he will do the same at the High Court if he gets the chance.

The Speaker says his objection is to the release of MPs' home addresses. Leapman suspects this is just a convenient ruse for old-guard MPs who do not want any scrutiny of how they spend their Additional Costs Allowance (ACA), which provides them with up to £23,000 a year for rent, mortgage, furniture and groceries.

I fought the law. I won. So why are we still in the dark over expenses? (Daily Telegraph, 30 March 2008)