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This:
Tory MPs in revolt over Speaker's £500,000 travel bill ‘promoting Westminster to people’

Commons Speaker John Bercow was facing a growing revolt from Tory MPs last night over a £500,000 project to take Parliament to the people.

In the latest challenge to his authority, the Speaker was called on to explain more than 20 trips around the country as part of a ‘parliamentary outreach’ project to promote Westminster.

Tory MP Brian Binley demanded to know why the cost of the scheme had soared from £165,000 in the year before he took the Speaker’s Chair to more than £550,000 now.

In his manifesto for the Speakership in 2009, Mr Bercow championed the parliamentary outreach scheme when he took over. But last week, it emerged that the annual bill more than doubled to £457,000 in his first year as Speaker and to £575,000 in the current year. As part of the scheme, Mr Bercow has made about 20 separate visits around the UK in the past year.

A spokeswoman for the Speaker said the outreach budget “has not been increased because of the Speaker’s involvement in outreach events”. [Daily Mail]

"Bwa-ha-ha-ha-haaaaa!"

... is textbook Daily Mail bullshit (encouraged, to be fair, by Tory bullshitters who just hate the Speaker). The £500,000 figure is the entire budget for the outreach department for the next three years. But put “£500,000” next to the words “Speaker” and “travel” and the result is depressingly easy to predict:
> last week, it emerged that the annual bill more than doubled to £457,000
> in his first year as Speaker and to £575,000 in the current year.
>
> As part of the scheme, Mr Bercow has made about 20 separate
> visits around the UK in the past year.
>
> ((snipped))

How on Earth do 20 trips equate to over half a million quid ...
[FM Forums]
The Speaker's actual travel bill amounts to £500 a year. The Mail ignored this.

Partly this reflects the Mail’s gleeful decision to join in the Speaker-bashing practised by some of the more batshit Tory MPs, who are never going to forgive the fact that Bercow had been on the point of leaving the Tories for Labour not long before running for Speaker, and partly it's part of a long Mail tradition of writing the story first, working out that it's not true and then running it anyway—see here [Tabloid Watch].

As for whether there’s virtue in promoting the work of Parliament at all, I would ask you how much you actually know about the place [1]—as opposed to a general feeling that “They’re all bastards”, stoked mainly by stories like this—and suggest that yes, it’s worth going out and telling people exactly what the place does, rather than sitting sullenly in Westminster and complaining that no-one understands it.


[1] Question posed entirely for rhetorical effect. If you work in law or a charity and you do know a lot about how the place works, you are not contractually obliged to reply. This does not affect your statutory rights.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
liadnan
Jan. 21st, 2011 03:20 pm (UTC)
If you work in law or a charity and you do know a lot about how the place works, you are not contractually obliged to reply.

Spoilsport.
cheekbones3
Jan. 22nd, 2011 12:25 pm (UTC)
Well I'm surprised.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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