MPs accused of using tax breaks for ‘jollies’

Link: Relief for ‘in-house’ tax avoidance schemes

Financial secretary Dawn Primarolo – whose own visits to Brussels for Finance Ministers’ meetings are paid for by the government – said new tax rules are designed to catch up with parliamentary arrangements under which MPs are allowed to seek reimbursement from the Fees Office for up to three trips a year ‘directly connected with their work as an MP’.

Revenue pursues ‘avoidance-proof’ legislation

She said: ‘The visits might be to forums such as the Interparliamentary Union with other parliamentary representatives in the European countries and are in order to encourage dialogue and understanding.’

The proposals – agreed without a vote in the committee debating details of the Bill – were criticised by Tory shadow chief secretary Howard Flight who warned they ‘bring MPs into disrepute’ because ‘there is no logical argument for paying expenses to potter across to Europe rather than paying expenses to go to see a politician in America’ and the process was ‘widely open to abuse and to swans’.

He claimed an MP ‘from another party’ had suggested to him it was possible to have a nice weekend in Prague by finding a good excuse to see a politician.

Tory MP Michael Jack said MPs were exempt from tax on travel within the UK and it was ‘right and proper that we are able to go to Brussels to talk with the Commission and MEPs and to visit other EU countries in order to foster important relationships that will be to the benefit of those who send us to this House’.

Related reading