Why No Response From NI MEPs to Expenses Questions?

Sammy Wilson MP MLA has asked why Jim Allister, Bairbre de Bruin and Jim Nicholson have so far failed to fill in and return a questionnaire concerning staff allowances sent from centre-right think tank Open Europe. Open Europe, which is a cross-party group campaigning for more openness and honesty in the European Union has confirmed to the Democratic Unionist Party that it sent out a questionnaire consisting of six simple questions to all UK MEPs on the 19th March 2008 and has of today yet to receive a reply from Mr. Allister, Ms. De Bruin or Mr. Nicholson.
Speaking today Mr. Wilson said:
“Assembly Members, MPs and local councillors have by UK law to provide for public scrutiny details of any and all expenses paid to them including travel and accommodation, office allowances and any other costs that they may incur. The only public representatives who do not have to declare these costs are Members of the European Parliament because they are not subject to the same Freedom of Information legislation as other public representatives. The European Parliament is notoriously difficult to get information from on issues concerning member’s expenses. Indeed only last month leaders of the various political groupings in Europe voted to abandon plans to introduce even basic rules on financial transparency into the Parliament.
Open Europe sent a six-question survey to all of the United Kingdom’s 79 MEPs. Thus far only 19 MEPs gave full answers to all questions whilst another 14 replied but gave only partial answers. The remaining 43 MEPs, including Mr. Allister, Ms. De Bruin and Mr. Nicholson have not responded at all to the questionnaire sent on 19th March 2008 – a full 11 weeks ago. What reason can there be for such delay?
In the past Mr. Allister has sought to set himself up as a champion for open government. Open Europe are actually listed in the links page of his website. He is particularly adept at the deployment of Freedom of Information legislation, which he himself as an MEP isn’t actually subject to, along with his colleagues Bairbre de Bruin and Jim Nicholson. Why have they thus far not responded to Open Europe’s simple survey? Will they each give an assurance that their response is either in the post or will be despatched soon to Open Europe providing full and detailed answers to all of the questions posed? In the interests of openness and fairness I look forward to seeing a full account of how our MEPs, spend their staffing allowances.”

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