'Millionaire' MEP Expense Claims Rubbished

24 February 2009
Alyn Smith MEP has today refuted claims published in the weekend's papers that suggested that MEPs can become millionaires by pocketing all of their allowances over the course of their five year term.

Mr Smith called for balance and clarity on the issue, protesting that the media was unwilling to give credit where credit was due and instead only focussing on the very rare "bad apples".

Mr Smith said:

"It was with a wry smile then sinking feeling that I read the articles on how "MEPs can become millionaires" by pocketing their entire office allowances over the course of their mandate.  I must admit to being curious about how much work this millionaire MEP would actually get done and wonder why he or she was not named? To lump together salary, allowances and expenses to create a mega total then pretend MEPs pocket it is the height of dishonest reporting.

"I am truly saddened, and a little hurt, that the papers insist on reproducing such smears. For my part, all my office allowances are managed or reviewed by a firm of Scottish Chartered Accountants, and if anyone wants to see how the system actually works I have had chapter and verse on my website www.alynsmith.eu for ages but no journalist has taken the time to look.

"My salary is my salary, paid in Sterling and subject to UK tax. My allowances are the funds available to me to pay office rents and buy stationery and suchlike; and employ assistants, I have a team of 6 and a vacancy for another, they work damned hard and none of them is my partner, auntie, cousin or imaginary friend. My expenses are the costs of getting me from Scotland to Brussels, and living expenses while I'm away from home. The costs mount up, there is no denying that, but to give the impression to my constituents that all of this is in my pocket does not help reform. And the system does badly need reform.

"There is insufficient transparency and there may well be some MEPs who are "at it" but I'd be pretty confident none from Scotland. I would happily see any bad apples put in stocks and pelted with straight bananas. I'll provide the bananas, out of my own pocket.

"The SNP has long campaigned for the expenses to be made transparent. Our national parliament in Holyrood leads the world in transparency and accountability, I have long since written to the authorities in Brussels with information on how Holyrood does things.

"The best disinfectant is sunlight, let us see as much transparency to the system as we can. But let us also see accurate reporting as well, and some credit to those of us who are working hard to reform things."