By Harry Phibbs
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The Sunday Telegraph have a report that MPs have spent £500,000 on business class flights over the past three years. There was supposed to be a rule that only economy flights could be claimed but a loophole has been found.
Eric Joyce tops the league for business class flights. The Falkirk MP, who has been stripped of the Labour whip, claimed for 208 business-class flights worth £43,410 since May 2010.
Jim Murphy, the shadow defence secretary, has claimed for 188 premium flights at a cost of £33,224.
Ann McKechin, the Labour MP Glasgow North MP has charged us to fly business
class 116 times costing £21,405. Yet Glasgow's six other MPs have only ever claimed for economy flights.
Pete Wilshart, the Scots Nat MP, has claimed for 171 business flights.
The report says:
The loophole permits MPs to be reimbursed for premium air fares if they can find any standard fare that is cheaper. A business class ticket booked far enough in advance can be less expensive than an economy fare – although it is still often twice the price of a standard fare ordered at the same time.
MPs were reimbursed for 1,208 business or club class flights during 2011/12 at a cost of £249,868 – That was an increase from £122,152 for 683 such tickets the year before.
Labour MPs enjoyed premium air travel on 1,541 occasions. Lib Dems claimed for 538 such flights, Scottish Nationalists for 363 and Tory MPs just 24.
There was one partiuclar Labour MP who had the nerve to make a claim despite being virtually never seen at Westminster:
Last May Gordon Brown was reimbursed for an £886 business class flight from Edinburgh to Brussels. The former Prime Minister was visiting the Belgian capital to speak with the European Union’s international development commissioner and the UK ambassador to Brussels.