MPs can claim 3,750 on expenses to fly home to pay tribute to Baroness Thatcher in the Commons


MPs can claim up to 3,750 on expenses for flying home to pay tribute to Baroness Thatcher in the Commons
All 650 MPs told they can receive up to 3,750 after Parliament was recalledLabour MPs say debate could have been delayed until next week

By
Matt Chorley, Mailonline Political Editor

PUBLISHED:

09:55 GMT, 10 April 2013

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UPDATED:

18:50 GMT, 10 April 2013

MPs have been told they can claim up to 3,750 if they want to take part in today’s Commons tributes to Baroness Thatcher.

Expenses chiefs emailed all 650 MPs to tell them they can receive the sum to cover the cost of returning from their Easter holidays.

Critics say the debate could have been held next week when Parliament returns from its recess. There is nothing to stop MPs covering the cost of attending today’s session themselves.

The Union Flag was lowered to half mast over Portcullis House on Monday to mark the death of the former Conservative Prime Minister

The Union Flag was lowered to half mast over Portcullis House on Monday to mark the death of the former Conservative Prime Minister, which will be debated in the Commons today

Commons Speaker John Bercow announced Parliament would be recalled to allow MPs to pay tribute to Baroness Thatcher, who died on Monday aged 87.

Under rules covering emergency recalls, MPs can claim travel expenses to return from anywhere in the world.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) said that, in line with normal rules, MPs were entitled to claim up to 3,750 for their journeys back to Westminster.

The money can be used by an MP to bring back their whole family early from a holiday overseas.

Or they can claim to return to
Westminster and then jet back to their holiday resort. Peers are able to
claim their 300 daily attendance allowance.

An Ipsa spokesman said that some MPs
could well have been out of the country when the recall was announced
and that it was ‘reasonable’ that they should be reimbursed for the cost
of returning.

‘If Parliament is recalled, MPs can claim the cost of getting to Parliament,’ the spokesman said.

Former Labour minister John Healey said he would boycott the tributes in protest at the closure of coal mines in Yorkshire, accusing Mr Cameron of hijacking the vent for political gain

Labour MP Ronnie Campbell said it 'beggars belief' that Parliament is being recalled

Former Labour minister John Healey (left)
accused Mr Cameron of hijacking Parliament's recall for political gain
while Labour MP Ronnie Campbell said he would rather be in a 'torture
chamber' than join the debate

When Parliament was recalled after the summer riots in August 2011, extra costs also included 32,228.56 for extra Hansard staff to record the debates, 5,000 in overtime for Met Police and 6,039 for tour guides.

Ronnie
Campbell, MP for Blyth Valley in Northumberland, told BBC Radio 4 he
would 'rather be put in the torture chamber' than attend today's debate.

'Why
we’re being recalled at all this expense beggars belief. We could have
done it next week. All this this afternoon is to heap praise on Margaret
Thatcher. We could have done that next week.'

Former Labour minister John Healey said he would boycott the tribute session, and accused David Cameron of hijacking Baroness Thatcher's death for political gain.

Writing for PoliticsHome, he
said: ‘Her death could and should have been marked when the Commons
returns next week… Parliament is being used today for narrow political
gain by the Prime Minister, as a platform for his Party’s ideology not
just eulogy.’

Foreign Secretary William Hague defended the cost of the debate, and next Wednesday's funeral.

'It's
right Parliament meets and commemorates such a leader of historic
proportions in our country's history,' he told BBC Breakfast.

'She
changed the course of our history and there have been many comments
over the last few days from all corners of the political spectrum.

'When
it comes to money, the rebate she negotiated for this country from the
EU has brought us so far 75 billion – which is twice the size of our
annual defence budget.

'I think that puts money in perspective… so I think we can afford to contribute to a funeral.'

Tory MP Penny Mourdant also defended the cost of recalling Parliament.

She told Sky News: 'The cost stuff that's been running is not really fair. If people are the other side of the world and Parliament has to be recalled, IPSA pay money to get those people back if they need to be there. If people are on a select committee visit or whatever, I don't think they'll be coming back to speak in the debate this afternoon.

'I'm speaking in the debate. I'm not claiming any expenses for turning up and speaking and I really think it gives us the option.'