Commons chasing MPs for £140,000 debt

By staff

House authorities are trying to recoup almost £140,000 in unpaid food and wine bills from MPs, it was revealed today.

77 MPs have not settled their tabs at parliament’s restaurants for over six months, averaging more than £500 each in unpaid bills.

In total, 329 MPs owe the Commons for outstanding entertainment and catering debts.

The details of the debts were obtained by the Press Association under the Freedom of Information Act.

The information disclosed also reveals that 52 MPs owe over £10,000 in overpaid salaries and allowances – these are separate to the huge sums paid back by MPs following the expenses scandal.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It’s simply unacceptable for MPs to leave their debts to the taxpayer unpaid for so long.

“We’ve heard a lot of rhetoric from the government and opposition benches about the importance of everyone paying invoices swiftly in the recession, but it seems that many of them don’t practise what they preach.”

Food and drink in parliament is currently subsidised by £6.1 million a year of taxpayers’ money.

Tory leader David Cameron pledged last week to end subsidised Commons food and drink for MPs as part of a package of measures designed to “set a powerful example”.

However, Mr Cameron’s proposals were mocked by his opponents as an ineffectual gesture.

Liberal Democrat spokesman Danny Alexander said: “While it’s nice to finally have some concrete proposals from the Conservatives, at this rate it would take them several centuries to balance the books.”

Mr Cameron was also criticised by backbenchers in his own party for making it difficult for MPs to make ends meet.