Commenting on the publication of MPs’ expenses earlier this week, Luke Pollard, Labour and Co-operative Member of Parliament for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport said:
“When I was elected, I said I wanted to do politics differently and that means being open and transparent. I have the lowest expenses of any of the three Plymouth MPs and I wanted to share this article with you so I can answer questions or help explain what this all means.
“I remember the MPs expenses scandal brilliantly exposed by the Telegraph in 2009. MPs of all parties let you down and they let themselves down. Politics was broken. It was at that time I was first standing for election to Westminster and I pledged I would do things differently. So, I’ve used the same approach to being an MP as I had to costs when I worked in the private sector: be efficient, hire staff openly, be accountable and focus on achieving change.
“Most of my ‘expenses’ are the salaries of my brilliant staff. Both in my office in Westminster and my city centre office on Frankfort Gate my team work tirelessly to respond to the hundreds of emails I get every day, to help people with complex and difficult casework, to help me answer the phone and support me in my role as your MP. They’re brilliant and I wish I could pay them more as they are brilliant and make a huge difference to hundreds of people in Plymouth every week. There’s no headlines about the immigration case where we help someone be reunited with their family, no headlines in fighting for benefits to be restored, no headlines in helping someone find a home after being made homeless but day in, day out this is what me and my team do.
“I also have the cost of my city centre office in this total. I’m the first ever Plymouth MP to have an office in the city centre so people can walk up and see their MP to get help. I didn’t want to be like other MPs and have offices in far off industrial estates, inaccessible locations or in their own home.
“The cost of travel (I take the train every week to Westminster and I travel in standard class), and my accommodation in London, as well as the cost of stationary, electricity bills and stationary are all declared here.
“I also said that I wouldn’t employ any family members in my office. I love my brilliant boyfriend. He’s amazing, but I think the best staff members should be hired after open recruitment not because they’re your partner. Unlike most of our local MPs I don’t employ any family members and I won’t.
“I also don’t think MPs should have second jobs. I have only one job: being your MP. After the controversy locally this has been brought to the public eye but I don’t think MPs should have second jobs paying massive salaries.
“It is nearly two years since I was elected and for that anniversary I’ll be publishing an update of what I’ve achieved as your MP but for the moment I wanted to give people the chance to ask about office costs. So, ask away and if you’d like me to ask me anything in person tune into my weekly #askLuke facebook live tomorrow night rom 7.30pm on my facebook page.
“I’m the lowest cost Plymouth MP and one of the lowest in the region. I said I’d give Plymouth its voice back in Parliament and I have. I have spoken more than all the other Plymouth MPs put together in Parliamentary debates. Politics is broken and I want to do it differently.
Plymouth, let me know what you think– and if you have any questions please let me know.”