How Tory MP took nine months to settle £35 House of Commons bill

Posted On: 
14th January 2016

Conservative MP Kwasi Kwarteng took nine months to pay a £35 Commons catering bill despite repeated attempts to make him stump up, PoliticsHome can reveal.

He had owed the cash since 25 March last year for services he enjoyed in the Palace of Westminster's plush Pugin Room.

The Spelthorne MP was contacted three times over the next nine months by parliamentary officials about the outstanding sum, but failed to write back.

_____________________________________________________________

RELATED CONTENT


Total UK debt passes £1.5tn


Greece has 'moral duty' to agree debt deal


Housing associations could add £60bn to public debt


_____________________________________________________________

Details provided to PoliticsHome under Freedom of Information made clear Mr Kwarteng had not settled the bill by 11 January.

But after being contacted by this site yesterday, an aide to the MP said he had now paid up.

Official documents show that Mr Kwarteng ran up a bill for £5.60 on 19 March, and another for £29.15 on 25 March.

Under parliamentary rules, MPs who fail to pay what they owe within 90 days have their credit facilities removed.

A Commons official said: "Mr Kwarteng has been contacted on three occasions."

One letter sent to the MP last April said: "Our records show that you still have £32.15 outstanding that requires immediate settlement... It would be greatly appreciated if you could arrange for the settlement of these amounts before the end of April."

The Pugin Room is described on the Parliament website as a venue with “a more intimate focus,” containing a large gilt brass and crystal chandelier “which commands the room”.

“This relaxing space provides an idyllic setting with wonderful views of the Thames,” the website adds.

MEMBERS' DEBTS

The House of Commons Freedom of Information team told PoliticsHome: “Payment delays can arise where charging card details or personal accounts themselves have lapsed, or questions have been raised on individual transactions.”

The Debt Management Policy adds: “If a long standing debt relates to charged items appearing on any statement, the Financial Controller is informed of the background, age and size of the debt to decide whether or not to pursue a write-off.

“As a general rule no item older than 30 days should remain on a customer’s account without due consideration from the Financial Controller on the next step to pursue, be it the legal route or a write off.”

House of Commons debtors have published details of outstanding catering debts since April last year.

Mr Kwarteng did not provide a comment despite repeated requests to do so.