Steerpike

Which MPs are expensing their licence fee?

Which MPs are expensing their licence fee?
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It's not just the BBC's well-paid stars who didn't like hearing that the licence fee will be abolished. Labour MPs have been spitting feathers at Nadine Dorries's audacious move to phase out the existing system by 2028, with many standing up in the House of Commons today to proclaim their dismay. Lucy Powell, Dorries' opposite number, wailed that the government's 'cultural vandalism' risked 'destroying everything that is great about Britain.' As the creator of the Ed Stone, she'd know all about that. Powell doubled down on Twitter, claiming the abolition of the licence fee was 'the end of of the BBC as we know it'.

Strong stuff and Powell's colleagues were quick to retweet in solidarity and express their admiration for the BBC. But might it be worth the Shadow Culture Secretary taking a look at how many of her colleagues actually pay out of their own pocket for the Corporation's services? For a Freedom of Information request to IPSA by Mr S has found that some 33 sitting MPs bill the taxpayer for a TV licence in their offices – including no less than six Labour frontbenchers now leading the charge to keep the current system in place. 

For Alan Campbell, Alex Cunningham, Jessica Morden, Jim McMahon, Karin Smyth and Lillian Greenwood are among those who last year all claimed the £157 back on expenses. Cunningham was just one of those quick to retweet Powell's condemnation of Dorries' move; backbencher Janet Daby was another declaiming the announcement in the House, despite expensing for her TV licence 10 months ago. It's no better on the Tory side where some 15 MPs also submitted expense claims for their TV licence up until November 2021 including Treasury minister John Glen and staunch BBC critic Craig Mackinlay.

Similarly, both disgraced independent Claudia Webbe and Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey have put in bills for their BBC licences. The latter tweeted just yesterday that the Corporation was a 'beloved national treasure.' Surely, in such circumstances, Davey would be happy to pay just 43p extra a day out of his own pocket?  As Danielle Boxall of the TaxPayers' Alliance told Mr S: 'When the rest of the country has to fork out to own a TV on pain of imprisonment, it feels unfair to expect taxpayers to pay twice over for politicians who insist the BBC should be funded by a licence fee.'

Something to remember the next time MPs queue up to eulogise the licence fee model.

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to steerpike@spectator.co.uk or message @MrSteerpike

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