Eurotrash - The latest from Brussels
WORKERS, JULY 2008 ISSUE
It's a hard life...
Each British MEP can claim up to £360,000 a year in expenses and pay, bringing our bill for UK MEPs to £28 million. Conservative MEP John Purvis has paid up to £1 million into his own firm, and Sajjad Karim MEP faces questions after paying his wife £26,000 a year to act as his assistant - while she was working as a teacher. "I consider myself completely a victim in this whole thing," Mr Purvis said.
You have to make allowances
A recent survey of Britain's MEPs by the think tank Open Europe asked some gentle questions – such as who handled their staff allowances, whether they had retained any of the money or employed any family members, and so on. Thirteen out of 28 Conservative MEPs refused to answer, so did 15 out of 19 Labour MEPs and eight out of 11 Lib Dems.
Keep it in the family
Den Dover, recently sacked as Conservative Chief Whip in the European Parliament, paid £750,000 of public money to a firm run by his wife and daughter. The company spent £56,400 for motoring expenses and £32,400 on repairs to the company headquarters, which are located at his £1 million home. The work included the building of five new rooms, a landscaped garden and the installation of electric gates on the drive.
Dover's wife and daughter are not even accredited to enter or use official buildings in Brussels or Strasbourg. As well as earning between £20,000 and £30,000 as a part-time parliamentary assistant, Dover's wife works a four-day week as a travel agent.
Labour MEP Michael Cashman has been paying £30,000 a year to his civil partner, Paul Cottingham, despite the fact that he runs his own PR firm.
It's all about freedom
Treasury Minister Kitty Ussher told a City audience that the Brown government will lead the fight against growing calls for a crackdown on executive pay and bonuses. She said that pay and bonuses are not a matter for governments. Her comments are intended to highlight the Brown government's position as a free-market champion in Europe.