EU allowance system 'wide open to abuse'

A member of the European Parliament told ITV News no one in Strasbourg ever asks for paperwork in relation to his allowances and expenses.

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Rail fares brought in '£7.7bn total' last year

Some £7.7bn in revenue was generated just through rail fares last year, with higher passenger numbers credited with the 3.6% rise on the amount brought in during 2011/12, according to a report from the regulator.

According to the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) report covering April 2012- March 2013:

  • The cost of running Britain's railways was £12.3 billion in 2012-13. This overall cost has remained consistent over the past three years.
  • The industry earned nearly £3 billion from discounted tickets (such as advance, off-peak, super-off peak and special offers) - amounting to more than 40% of the total passenger income.
  • Rolling stock charges paid by Virgin Trains, for example, were £302 million but those paid by East Coast were £53 million.

Read: Report exposes 'huge disparity' in railway spending

Report exposes 'huge disparity' in railway spending

The amount of money spent on the railways varies widely from England to Scotland and Wales, according to a report from industry regulators.

Read: Rail unions launch legal bid over East Coast sale

Rail
Government policy is that rail passengers should cover more of the industry's income. Credit: PA

Read: Network Rail plans £38bn investment to upgrade railways

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) found a "huge disparity" between Government spending in different parts of the UK, with rail journeys in England receiving as little as £2.19 per passenger journey.

In Scotland, £7.60 was spent per passenger journey and £9.33 in Wales during the year 2012/13, the report found.

Total government funding for 2012/13 for the railways amounted to £4 billion which represented 30.9% of the industry's total income and included £700,000 from Transport Scotland and £100,000 from the Welsh Government.

Read: Osborne: No further spending on £50bn HS2

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Farage: 'Not for me to defend £3,580 MEP allowance'

Ukip leader has refused to defend claiming a an MEP's monthly allowance of £3,580 because he says he wants the system abolished.

All MEPs are given a fixed allowance of £3,580 per month.

They do not have to provide receipts for any of that expenditure, but there is a list that gives suggestions of what the money might be spent on.

It is not for me to defend this system: after all, I want it abolished. Ever since 1999, I have expressly stated that Ukip MEPs will use the wherewithal provided by the EU Parliament to campaign for Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.

– Ukip leader Nigel Farage

Writing in the Independent, he said that reports which used the word 'expenses' were a "deliberate and cynical attempt to conflate the anger over MPs expenses with the way that MEPs work".

MP regrets 'mistimed' tweet during Hillsborough service

A Conservative minister who represents a Merseyside constituency has apologised for tweeting an attack on Labour during the Hillsborough memorial service.

Employment Minister Esther McVey, who represents Wirral West, tweeted:

Radio presenter Nicky Campbell pointed out the poor timing of the Twitter post, writing:

Ms McVey has since apologised for the "mistiming" of her tweet:

Esther_mcvey_normal

Really regret the mistiming of local election press release. Apologies.

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Electoral watchdog asks Ukip for 'clarification'

The UK's election watchdog is writing to Ukip asking for "clarification" about the rent-free office at the centre of a row over Nigel Farage's use of Brussels' allowances.

The Electoral Commission said it wanted to find out if the rent-free arrangement should have been declared as a donation.

We are writing to the party to just ask for clarification around this office that has come to light.

We just want to find out if anything needs to be reported that perhaps has not been.

– Spokeswoman, Electoral Commission

Ukip leader Mr Farage has defended his use of MEPs' allowances and claimed he is the victim of a "political smear" following allegations about the money used to fund his constituency office.

Read: Farage story source accuses Times of misquoting him

Hammond: Scotland 'yes vote' means defence jobs risk

Thousands of defence jobs will be at risk if Scotland votes for independence in September, according to Defence Secretary Philip Hammond.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond issued a speech to workers at Thales, a firm which has supplied every periscope used by the Royal Navy
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond issued a speech to workers at Thales, a firm which has supplied every periscope used by the Royal Navy Credit: Associated Press

Mr Hammond warned workers at the Glasgow-based firm Thales that their future prosperity, and that of their families, would be put in jeopardy by a Yes vote for independence.

He said: "The creation of a border between this facility and its largest customer will put at jeopardy the future prosperity of this business, the people who work in it and their families and dependents."

"If we were to separate, then the future of the defence industry in Scotland that depends on MoD orders will be put at risk," he added.

The Times 'welcomes Farage opening up books'

The Times has responded to reports of Ukip leader Nigel Farage considering handing his expenses for independent scrutiny, after the newspaper claimed that he faces an investigation into £60,000 of "missing" MEP expenses. A spokesman for The Times said:

The Times welcomes Mr Farage's commitment today to open up his books to an independent auditor.

As our story states, the reporting was based on Mr Farage's own transparency reports.

Read: Farage story source accuses Times of misquoting him

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