JUSTICE – COMMUNICATIONS ALLOWANCE – 20 October 2008

[The Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Mr Jack Straw): ... My aim in introducing the communications allowance was to cap spending by some right hon. and hon. Members on, for example, franked envelopes, which in my judgment was reaching excessive proportions. In any event, although only one or two Opposition Members voted for the communications allowance, I looked up the figures earlier and, from recollection, I think that 574 Members spent the communications allowance last – [Interruption.] That is what I was told in my brief. If it is inaccurate, I am happy to stand corrected, but that was in my official brief.]

Dr Julian Lewis: I thank the Secretary of State for giving way. I have had to use the communications allowance. I have used about 0.02 percent, I think, because certain advertisements for surgeries that I used to be able to pay for under the office costs allowance must now be paid for under the communications allowance. There is a big difference between that – I suppose I am one of his statistics for using the communications allowance – and Members using £10,000 or whatever the allowance is. I shall stick to my less than 1 percent until the communications allowance is abolished, when I can go back to the old system which allowed such minimal expenses under a sensible office cost allowance.