This year MP’s voted themselves an additional £10,000 Communications Allowance a year to promote the workings of Parliament to their constituents. Here’s the official description of it’s purpose:
“The allowance shall be for the purpose of assisting Members with expenditure incurred wholly, exclusively and necessarily in communicating with the public on parliamentary business…”
Guidance on it’s use specifically prohibits it’s use for party political purposes. That’s pretty clear, as it says here on page 13 of the Booklet:
“The content of any communications paid from the allowances must not seek to compare the Member’s party favourably with another, promote one party at the expense of another or seek to undermine the reputation of political opponents.”
So if you were a Government Minister you’d be pretty certain what not to do. So why then, does cabinet minister, Ruth Kelly, openly flaunt this guidance. Well, pretty obvious really, she’s sitting on a very small electoral majority of just over 2,000 votes, and so needs to take every opportunity to secure her seat.
The source of Ruth Kelly’s wrongdoing was uncovered by the Mail on Sunday, and Benedict Brogan of the Daily Mail has all the evidence in his BLOG. There’s trenchant criticism HERE from a left of centre blogger, watch out it’s uses strong language.
OK, OK, I know you’ll want to see the offending document. So here it is, click on it for a larger view.
I have to say I agree with Devil’s Kitchen, this is a flagrant, unprincipled breach of the regulations, and in my opinion was done knowingly. Cabinet Ministers are expected to uphold the highest political standards, though obviously not in Ruth Kelly’s case.
UPDATE: Ooh, I forgot to point you towards Ruth Kelly’s apology, HERE on the Beeb.