The public paid for 350 postcard-sized photographs of the Speaker of the House of Commons costing £210 that are “sent out on request”, nearly £2,000 worth of beeswax candles, and hundreds of pounds to tune the grand piano in his state rooms.
Commons Speaker John Bercow has spent thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money wining and dining fellow MPs, photographs of himself to be sent to voters and even tuning a grand piano in his State Rooms in the Palace of Westminster. Taxpayers’ money has been used to lay on a range of dinners, lunches and receptions for colleagues of Mr Bercow.
Foreign counterparts have been treated to hospitality at his official residence in parliament, with one meal with the Australian Speaker in May 2014 costing £1,954.
The public has also paid for 350 postcard-sized photographs of the Speaker costing £210 that are “sent out on request”, nearly £2,000 worth of beeswax candles, and £286 to tune the grand piano in the Speaker’s state rooms on four occasions between February 2012 and October last year.
The details have emerged in a full breakdown of spending charged to the Speaker’s official House account over the last three-and-a-half years, obtained by the Press Association under the Freedom of Information Act.
The Commons said it was unable to supply any information prior to April 2012 – because it has been “destroyed in accordance with the parliamentary records disposal policy”.
Mr Bercow’s official spending is not subject to the same rules as other MPs – who are banned by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) from claiming meals or alcohol on expenses.
“The fact that records prior to 2012 have already been destroyed – coupled with the need to use Freedom of Information laws to get this data in the first place – will not instil confidence in the public that the Speaker’s Office is run with a culture of transparency and openness.”
Highlights of Speaker John Bercow’s spending, 2012-15
£2,057 “Standing down” dinner for a Deputy Speaker Dawn Primarolo, now Baroness Primarolo (April 2015)
£651.79 “Quadrilateral” dinner with the Presiding Officers of Scotland and Wales and the Speaker of Northern Ireland (March 2013)
£307 Spending on photography of the Speaker and other officials at the State Opening of Parliament (November 2014)
£210 A batch of 350 postcard sized “portrait prints” of Mr Bercow to be sent to voters (December 2012)
£286 Cost of tuning the Grand Piano in Speaker’s House (2012 – 2015)
£1,023 An order of “beeswax hand finished candles” for official dinners (July 2012)
£924 An order of “beeswax hand finished candles” for official dinners (July 2014)
£646 A batch of 2,500 batch “place cards” for official dinners (July 2014)
£1,521.37 Lunch for the Romanian Speaker (December 2012)
£832.29 Lunch with the Singaporean Speaker (June 2013)
£1,444.74 Lunch with the Slovenian Speaker (October 2013)
£1,314.94 Lunch with the Irish Speaker (March 2014)
£1,954.38 Dinner in honour of the Australian Speaker (May 2014)
£1,144.80 Entertaining the Estonian Speaker (October 2014)
£1,600.62 Meal with the Lithuanian Speaker (February 2015)
Source: Press Association Freedom of Information Act request