David Cameron has promised to abolish the Communcations Allowance. So has Sir Christopher Kelly. Here's a good reason why. This leaflet has been put out by David Lammy in his Tottenham constituency, campaigning against hospital closures in the local area. He's actually campaigning against a decision of the very government he is a Minister in. That's astonishing enough in itself, but when I tell you that he has used taxpayers' money in the form of the House of Commons Communications Allowance to fund it, you will see why my dander is well and truly up.
Every leaflet which is funded by the Communications Allowance has to be approved by the House authorities before it is printed. Question for David Lammy: Was this approved, and has he been refunded the cost?
The Telegraph's Ed West is a constituent of Mr Lammy. He's none too impressed, either...
It’s easy to forget there are some decent politicians left, some real unsung heroes whose only wish is to serve their country and make the world a slightly less horrible place. Up here in north London, Tottenham MP and “Minister of State for Higher Education and Intellectual Property”, David Lammy is busy campaigning against plans to abolish the A&E facilities at Whittington and North Middlesex hospitals in Islington and Tottenham. I’m with him on that one – #iwuvthenhs and all that.
Lammy, as he never stops mentioning, is a mate, acquaintance or possibly Facebook friend of Barry Obama, but is better known these days as the MP who claimed over £25,000 for home expenses, despite living in inner London. Still, I hear many people weekend in Tottenham these days – the shooting is great this time of year.
As Lammy says in this leaflet: “In a borough where male life expectancy falls by 7.2 years within two miles we simply cannot afford to make cuts to these vital services.” We? You mean, the government you’re a paid-up member of? If he cares so much, why doesn’t he resign, or stand as a Kidderminster-style independent, since this is a pretty serious issue to people in the area.
But not only he is campaigning against his own government in order to save his own skin come May, he’s also making you pay for it. For at the bottom of the leaflet you’ll notice the small print: “This publication is funded from the Communications Allowance”.
The taxpayer, in other words. He hasn’t, of course, broken any rules, which state that: “The Communications Allowance provides funds to allow you, as a Member of Parliament, to communicate proactively with your constituents and inform them about your Parliamentary duties. You may claim up to £10,000 per year from this allowance.” But it’s still taxpayer’s money.
God bless Labour – even when they’re attacking each other, they still make taxpayers foot the bill.
UPDATE: Paul Waugh emails to tell me he covered this on Tuesday. His story is HERE. He didn't mention the Communications Allowance, though!