From Zanzebar to mini-bar, humiliation mounts up on Falkirk MP

David Alexander

The SNP has hit out at the latest humiliation brought on the Falkirk community by the expenses revelations of local New Labour MP, Eric Joyce.

The under fire MP, who was the first MP in the UK to top the £1m mark in the new expenses regime has hit the national headlines again with the news that the Fees Office of the House of Commons have frozen his expenses account after a further investigation by parliamentary watchdogs.

The MP had previously been criticised for, amongst other complaints, “flipping” his designated first and second homes to avoid paying tax on an £80,000 profit gained from the sale of the family home in Surrey.

Now Mr Joyce has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons again for, amongst other reasons, failure to repay £5,000 to the fees office for various flights wrongly claimed to countries in Africa and to Japan.

The MP was also criticised for seeking to reclaim for items taken from hotel mini bars and even to a children’s charity contained within his African Hotel Bill and blamed trip sponsors as well as domestic problems for his failure to repay the amount.

A letter was sent from the fees office in October of 2008 demanding the money be refunded with failure to respond leading to the freezing of travel and hotel fees by the parliamentary authorities.

Now SNP campaign manager for Falkirk, Cllr David Alexander has called on Labour authorities to act to prevent any further embarrassment to the Falkirk community.

He said,

“The fact the SNP has selected to contest Falkirk a popular local community activist in John McNally with a long record of voluntary service to the community has not gone unnoticed by the wider civic community of Falkirk. The promises of support for John’s campaign to replace Mr Joyce even from many known supporters of the Labour Party has been hugely encouraging.

People are recognising that the first priority of voting is to select a local representative to properly articulate the views and values of the local community. It should be an honour to represent the people of the Falkirk Constituency but you do get the impression New Labour are not only taking people for granted and believe they don’t have to justify themselves to the people who put Mr Joyce where he is today.

That is not good for democracy and while I can appreciate many people’s disillusion with the political process failure to vote for change will result in no change and continued embarrassment for the wider community.

I have no doubt that the people who have been taken for granted to date will have their say in the forthcoming general election but until then Labour officials must act to ensure there is no further embarrassment heaped onto the good name of Falkirk.”

SNP prospective parliamentary candidate, John McNally added.

“If elected I will not be joining any parliamentary groups that will lead to the level of foreign travel that the current MP has enjoyed.

I will spending the majority of my time working within the constituency for the benefit of local people, local community groups and local businesses.

Of course I will have to spend time in London at the House of Commons and can advise constituents that I will not be seeking to purchase a second home but will seek to rent digs at as low a cost to the public purse as possible.

There will therefore be no John Lewis list for me because MPs are well enough paid without ripping off the general public with such unreasonable expenses claims as we have seen recently.

So that we bring about a change in ethos and a move to a more transparent system, if elected I will publish my expenses on a constituency website on a monthly basis.

I hope that action will help to restore some credibility and public faith in the privilege of being a public representative.”

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