Commissioner rules MPs must reveal spending on circulars and reports

MPs for Swansea, Neath and Port Talbot may have to reveal exactly how much they have spent on newsletters to their constituencies. The Information Commissioner has ruled that the figures should be released, in the case of seven MPs, following a Freedom of Information request.

They are Peter Hain (Neath), Martin Caton (Gower), Alan Williams (Swansea West), Sian James (Swansea East), Hywel Francis (Aberavon), Huw Irranca-Davies (Ogmore), and Madeleine Moon (Bridgend).

The House authorities had argued that providing a breakdown of the outlay by the MPs in Wales would breach their privacy. But Commissioner Richard Thomas decided the material was not exempt, and it must be disclosed.

The decision applies to circulars and reports to constituents since May 2005.The Commons authorities now have 33 days to decide whether to appeal against the decision or disclose the information.

Releasing the material would almost certainly set a precedent for similar details to be published for all MPs.MPs can claim for producing and distributing circulars and reports to constituents under the Incidental Expenses Provision (IEP).

However, the House only publishes a global figure for each MP's spending from the allowance - which also covers a variety of other office costs, and some travel and staff expenditure.Critics claim the IEP is exploited by some members to produce political mailshots.

MPs may have to reveal newsletter spending (, 2 April 2008)