An MP has slammed a fellow member of the House of Commons who claimed 20 pence in expenses for a one-mile bike ride, saying “it’s not like putting petrol in your car.”
The Sun reports that Labour’s Matt Western, the MP since 2017 for Warwick & Leamington, made expenses claims totalling £8.60 for 19 trips made on constituency business in 2018/19, including four of one mile where he claimed 20 pence for each one.
The newspaper points out that there is no suggestion of wrongdoing on Western’s part and he was fully entitled to claim the sums.
But it does seem that besides the claiming of £1,600 duck houses for ornamental moats, nothing quite seems to pique the mainstream media’s interest in MPs’ expenses as when they claim money back for travelling by bicycle – certainly, reimbursement of petrol does not seem to attract the same attention.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), which oversees expenses, has asked MPs to keep track of their journeys to make sure the claims they submit accurately reflect the mileage travelled and avoid overclaiming.
But one unnamed MP quoted by The Sun spluttered: “Your legs may hurt a little bit after going for a bike ride but it’s not like putting petrol in your car.”
Western, whose single biggest claim for cycling was a seven-mile journey for which he was reimbursed £1.40, said: “It’s important to send a signal out that you’re using a bike. It’s a paltry sum but better to encourage MPs to use their bicycles.
“I’m a keen cyclist,” he added. “It’s good for your health and good for the environment which helps reduce congestion and it’s quicker and you don’t have to worry about parking.”
The £8.60 claimed for cycling during the year is equivalent to just 0.29 per cent of his total travel expenses of £2,989.64 for the year according to the IPSA website– most of which were for train travel, but which also included £623.70 related to use of his own car.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.