MPs' food and drinks tabs revealed
Published 19/05/2010 | 20:41
Details of huge tabs run up by MPs for eating and drinking at the House of Commons have been released.
Many had debts amounting to thousands of pounds that were outstanding for months on end.
The material was disclosed after a Freedom of Information battle by the Press Association lasting more than seven months.
Despite the Information Commissioner raising concerns over their behaviour, the House authorities delayed until after the General Election before releasing the material.
Food and drink in the Commons is already subsidised by the taxpayer to the tune of about £6 million a year, roughly half the catering budget.
But as of September 1 last year, 329 MPs owed the refreshment department £138,046 between them for unpaid food and drink bills, according to previous releases under the FOI Act. The information released will be particularly embarrassing for more than 70 current and former MPs who owed large sums for more than six months.
Labour MP Khalid Mahmood had a tab of £8,200.60 in this category, while Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael - now a Whip in the coalition government - owed £2,483.62.
New Business Secretary Vince Cable owed £321.55, and Labour's acting leader Harriet Harman £1,035.45.
Prime Minister David Cameron was among those who failed to settle a bill for between 90 days and six months - but the sum involved was only £12.80.
All the bills have now been paid, according to the Commons authorities. However, details of when the debts were settled have not been supplied - so it is unclear whether the individuals only acted when they were about to be named and shamed.