Before I start, let me just make clear that I have no problem with an MP employing a spouse in his or her office, provided they are on the same terms and conditions as anyone else who would otherwise be considered for the post.
Okay, so, now that that is done, let's take a look at the high flying partnership of David Clelland, Labour MP for Tyne Bridge, and his wife, Brenda, also his secretary. Does the taxpayer really need to pick up the bill of £5298 for Mrs Clelland to make 29 journeys to London in a single year? And if that travel is necessary (as his secretary I appreciate there will be times when some of it is) does the taxpayer really need to fork out an overage of £183 each time she travels down to London?
Mr Clelland himself does not come cheaply. Whilst he tells others to be green, Mr Clelland prefers to jump onto the plane to wing it down to London. You and I picked up a bill of £9301 for his air tickets. He lives closer to Newcastle Central Station than Newcastle Airport so convenience can hardly be an explanation for Mr Clellands enjoyment of heaving his head in the clouds and his feet not on the ground.
Mr Clelland is not entirely engrossed with flying. He does at least sometimes let the train take the strain, notching up a bill for £6797 in a single year. And then there is the car mileage of £2303.
The grand cost of Mr and Mrs Clelland's travelling is an eye watering £23,699 a year. Or put it another way, that's more than the vast majority of his constituents earn in a year. (And his incompetent government is doing its best to relieve many of them of that earned income.)
To keep all this in balance, look at the MP in Blaydon, none other than Mr David Anderson, with whom I have had a number of run ins, as well as intelligence conversations on the train and tube when we bump into each other in London.
Mr Clelland can claim to have cheaper mileage than Mr Anderson. There again, Mr Anderson's constituency is far far larger than the compact, inner city Tyne Bridge seat of Mr Clelland whose mileage was only £54 cheaper.
Mr Clelland can also claim he is much cheaper on train fares. Mr Anderson notched up a bill of £9845. Big Dave however can easily claim to have greener credentials than Little Dave. Mr Anderson did slightly let the side down with air fares though, notching up a whopping bill of only £424.
Mrs Anderson herself made 3 trips to London, at a cost to the taxpayer over the year of £218. That's only £73 a journey (and cheaper than many of the train fares I often have to pay to get to London!) How come Mrs Anderson is so economical when Mrs Clelland comes at such a price?
The overall cost to the taxpayer of Mr and Mrs Anderson's travel is £12,844, just over half the cost of Mr and Mrs Clelland, which I think is reasonable financially and environmentally.
High flying Mr Clelland however at least needs to get his feet back on the ground and take the train a bit more. I also suggest he gets some how-to-travel-more-economically tips from his constituency neighbour.