Travel costs for Bercow branded an ‘obscene waste’

John Bercow, who has been accused of "obscene waste" after racking up a �172 bill being chauffeur-driven. Picture: PA
John Bercow, who has been accused of "obscene waste" after racking up a �172 bill being chauffeur-driven. Picture: PA
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JOHN Bercow has been accused of “obscene waste” after racking up a £172 bill being chauffeur-driven to a conference just less than a mile from Parliament.

The Commons Speaker also spent £367 taking a car to Luton to deliver a speech on how MPs were restoring their reputation after the expenses scandal.

Fresh details of Mr Bercow’s travel costs have been disclosed following a Freedom of Information request.

Mr Bercow has been widely criticised for splashing out large sums on foreign trips - including visits to Australia, New Zealand, Burma, South Africa, the US, Finland and Austria.

But while the House authorities have previously published breakdowns of hundreds of thousands of pounds of his expenses since 2009, they have not always been complete.

In the wake of a landmark Court of Appeal ruling on the scope of FOI, Parliament has now supplied the individual receipts that were submitted over the past three years.

Among the material in the disclosure is:

• Mr Bercow used an official car to travel to Canterbury to see Archbishop Justin Welby enthroned in 2013 - at a cost of £524.

• In April that year he spent £172 taking a car to Carlton House Terrace - just 0.7 miles from the Commons - to open a conference on alternative and augmentative communication (AAC). A taxi fare for the round trip is likely to have been less than £15.

• The same month his transport bill to a dinner organised by charity Stonewall at the Dorchester Hotel - 1.5 miles from Parliament - was £144.

• A one-way drive from King’s Cross station to Speaker’s House after a day trip to Leeds in July 2013 cost £168.

• Mr Bercow’s car to Baroness Thatcher’s funeral at St Paul’s Cathedral, 1.8 miles from the Commons, cost £158.

• In May 2013 there was a £367 bill for the Speaker to be driven to the University of Bedfordshire, where he gave a lecture on reforming parliament to ensure it was a “credible institution”. “The expenses scandal proved to be an ‘adapt or die’ moment for Members of Parliament,” he said.

• He kept a chauffeur-driven car waiting while he attended a memorial service for former minister Malcolm Wicks in Croydon, south London, in October 2012 - costing £289 for five hours.

• The Speaker had a Foreign Office car pick him up at Manchester Piccadilly station after travelling up to attend the funeral of Labour MP Paul Goggins in January last year. It ferried Mr Bercow and a staff member around “as directed” at a cost of £298, before they stayed at the Park Inn Radisson hotel in the centre of the city.

The following day, it took Mr Bercow and two staff members to the service in Salford, waiting and dropping them back to Manchester Piccadilly at a further cost of £276.

In total, the Speaker and his staff ran up expenses of nearly £1,300 attending the service.

Mr Bercow is not believed to require an official car for security reasons, and the receipts indicate he has used commercial firms such as Little’s Chauffeur Drive and WestOne Cars as well as the Government Car Service.

A spokesman for the Speaker said: “One of the Speaker’s duties is to represent Parliament at home and abroad. The Speaker attends funerals and memorials for former parliamentarians as both a mark of respect and as a representative of his parliamentary colleagues.

“Additionally, the Speaker is committed to encouraging public engagement with Parliament and regularly visits universities, charities and other organisations around the UK