Saturday, 13 March 2010

Andrew Brons BNP MEP response to the Telegraph

Dear Sir, Your reference to me in an article on MPs’ expenses was misleading and mischievous.

The main article was about living expenses claimed by Members of the Westminster Parliament, against whose greed and dishonesty we campaigned during the European elections. However, MEPs do not claim living expenses: we receive a flat rate subsistence allowance. Whilst there is no requirement to keep any record of how that is spent, I have kept a record of money spent on accommodation, hotels and meals, which I show to my colleagues in case they should think that I am enriching myself. I have never heard of any other MEP keeping such a record. The only other personal expense received is for travel. I make a claim only for amounts expended (the exact fare if I fly and the exact mileage if I drive or am driven). The amounts received in both subsistence and travel are on public record and I am not under any obligation to make any other return.

The allowances are quite distinct from personal expenses and cannot be used for personal enrichment or personal expenditure. The General Expenditure Allowance (for office expenses in the UK) is paid at a flat rate of 4,202 Euros per calendar month. I have it paid into a separate account and I keep a strict record of all money spent from it. If there is a surplus at the end of the year, I shall declare that surplus to the relevant office. I have not been asked to make any return but I have the exact figures if I am asked to do so.
Each MEP receives an annual amount of 43,697 Euros for communications with constituents. I have spent money on printed newsletter informing constituents of what I have been doing in the European Parliament and on newspaper advertisements inviting them to contact me if they should need my help. The content of any communications is scrutinised by the Parliament and there are strict rules to ensure that party logos do not exceed a certain size. The amounts spent are on public record. There is no obligation for me to make any other return.

Each MEP is allowed to spend over 17,000 Euros per calendar month to employ staff to help him or her in the role of MEP. They help me with office management, correspondence, production of my newsletters and advertisements, distribution of my newsletters, routine research into the EU and its activities and very particular research into matters that appear on the agendas of my committees and matters on which I must vote in the plenary session. MEPs of the large groups simply vote as they are instructed: we must decide individually and together how we should cast our votes. The persons employed and amounts paid are all on public record. There is no requirement to make any other return.

I was in the Parliament in Strasbourg throughout the week beginning 8th March and no attempt was made to contact me. It was only in the late afternoon of Thursday during my return trip from Strasbourg that I heard indirectly about your attempt to send me a series of questions. Why did you not contact my office when you knew that I would be there? The answer must be that you had already decided to write that I had declined to comment.

Yours faithfully,

Andrew Brons British National Party MEP for Yorkshire & North-East Lincolnshire

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