I share Andrew's anger at the Telegraph's attacking of Alan Reid's claiming of expenses for his Summer Tour.
Most MPs I know work very hard all year round, not just during the Parliamentary sessions. During the Summer recess in particular they are still fighting their constituents' cases and this can also involve travelling back and fore to London to meet ministers and the like. Don't therefore assume that if an MP has made a claim in the Summer that it automatically invalid. There are legitimate reasons for them to be in town.
Anyway this isn't relevant to Alan's claims, which were for b and b accommodation, not 5 star hotel (although I'd rather stay in a homely highland b and b than any impersonal hotel any day) in his constituency during his Summer Tour. Many MPs spend several weeks in the Summer visiting every tiny corner of their constituencies to listen to people's concerns and meet as many people as possible. Now, I've never been to Argyll and Bute in my life, but I know it's pretty far flung. However, I did have the sense to look up on Google maps to try to appreciate the distances involved before I made a judgement. Don't they have the internet in the Telegraph offices to enable the reporter to do the same?
I tried to provide links for directions from Cardross, where Alan's home is, to both Loch Fyne and Oban, but I can't get them to work. If you go to Google Maps and get directions from Loch Fyne to Cardross, it will tell you that's 154 miles and would take you 4 hours and 38 minutes. The road from Oban to Cardross is nearly 78.7 miles, taking 1 hour 54 minutes. Neither distance is commutable in my opinion, especially late at night on challenging roads after a long day's work. Nor is it acceptable to have to get up again and make the return journey in the morning. Overnight accommodation would definitely be cheaper, and therefore a better option to the taxpayer, than the mileage anyway.
I am glad that Alan did fight the case to be reimbursed for these expenses. Nobody should be out of pocket for reasonable costs of doing their job and the rules did not take into account those few constituencies which cover an enormous geographical area. Having grown up in Caithness and Sutherland, I know the huge area that Bob Maclennan as MP had to travel around - just to get to the outer edge of the constituency was a good 1.5 hour drive from Inverness.
The Telegraph's revelations have generated much outrage in recent days - but on this one, I am happy to send them some back, because they have their criticism of Alan very badly wrong.