The heat was turned up on MP Jo Swinson this week - as it was revealed that the taxpayer is helping to pay her and her husband’s electricity bill.
As the Tory/LibDem Coalition government imposes austerity and urges people to tighten their belts in the teeth of power company price hikes, it was shown that more than half of all Westminster MPs claim public cash to pay for their household energy.
Amongst them are East Dunbartonshire MP Ms Swinson and husband Duncan Hames, LibDem MP for Chippenham in Wiltshire.
Ms Swinson - who takes a minister’s wage on top of her MP’s salary - claimed £284.85 and Mr Hames claimed the almost identical sum of £284.87 for electricity over a 12 month period.
Their combined claim for their London property of £569.72 is more than that of LibDem leader Nick Clegg - £254 - and Labour leader Ed Milliband - £403.
Prime Minister David Cameron did not claim.
The utility bills - which topped £200,000 for all MPs - are revealed in documents from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, covering the period between April 2012 and March 2013.
MPs from all of the major political parties - including some SNP and Plaid Cymru MPs - claimed for assistance with their bills.
Ms Swinson was criticised for claiming help with her bills - while a pensioners’ group hit out at MP ‘hypocrisy’.
Neil Scott, a teacher from Bearsden and a spokeperson for the Campsie branch of the Scottish Socialist Party, said: “This will sicken everyone who is suffering under the cosh of this austerity-crazed government - a government of which Jo Swinson is an integral part as a minister.
“At a time when they are telling us that we have to tighten our belts and wear extra jumpers rather than putting on the heating, and as we face a winter during which charities estimate hundreds will die because they cannot afford to heat their homes, rich MPs, on minister’s wages, are having their heating bills paid for by the public.
“Politicians and their banker pals gamble and play with our money and caused the financial crisis, but seem to be the only ones not ‘in this together’, with the rest of us suffering wage cuts and hugely increased food and energy bills.”
National Pensioners Convention spokesman Neil Duncan-Jordan said the energy claims were “hypocrisy and double standards”.
He said: “Pensioners will be disgusted at how out of touch many MPs are, when many older people will have to choose between heating and eating.”
Ms Swinson said: “As an MP I need to be in Parliament during the week – clearly commuting daily to my home in Bearsden is not an option.
“The cost of renting somewhere to stay in London, including essential utility bills, is therefore covered for MPs who represent areas outside London.
“Obviously I pay for my own home energy bills in Bearsden out of my salary.”
What do you think of MPs claiming for their energy bills?
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