Warwick and Leamington MP makes impassioned response to newspaper article questioning his expense claims for cycling

Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western has made an impassioned response on his social media pages to a newspaper article criticising him for claiming expenses for cycling around his constituency.

Monday, 13th May 2019, 10:11 am
Matt Western

Responding to the article in the Sun on Sunday yesterday (May 12) Mr Western took to Facebook and Twitter with a lengthy post.

He said: "MP in ‘shock’ story by claiming LEGITIMATE expenses WHILE doing RIGHT thing!! (I guess that’s shocking..)

"In a week that saw Leamington registering the UK’s worst air quality [Thursday 9th May, 05.30], a complete non-story has been published in The Sun on Sunday this morning - insinuating that it is somehow a negative thing for me to be cycling around the constituency to events and meetings (even though claiming for miles cycled is legitimate and encouraged)!

"This is not what constituents tell me! They say they’re delighted I’m so visible and that I’m leading by example, cycling around our towns whenever possible. In fact I cycle a lot - as I did when I was a Councillor - as it is better for people’s health and easier for me in terms of parking.

"And here’s the deceit in the article: not only are cycle mileage expense claims considerably less than car mileage claims, but they are entirely within the IPSA (Parliamentary expense standards) guidelines on expenses and a common occurrence in both public and private sector organisations - as well as in Parliament!!

"It’s better for the environment, helps contribute to reducing congestion on our roads and better for the taxpayer.

"But it is also important as the expenses log is the only place where your constituency visits are registered.

"In fact, I would encourage more MPs to do this and practice what they preach after the discussions we have had on the climate emergency in recent weeks.

"The more representatives we have in Parliament who live and breathe their own values - the better.

"Must've been a slow news week!"

Roger Geffen, Cycling UK policy director, has defended Mr Western's expenses claims.

He said: "It is perfectly reasonable for MPs to claim 20p per mile for cycling when on constituency business, as this is the Treasury-approved rate not just for MPs but anyone cycling as part of their work.

"Bicycles may not need petrol but they do suffer wear and tear, so using them is not cost-free.

"In any case, the Government rightly recognises that, if it wants to encourage people to use clean and healthy transport options, it would make no sense to offer tax breaks for work-related car mileage without doing the same for cycle mileage.

"MPs who claim this allowance aren't acting unreasonably, they are setting a very good example."