Northern Ireland

Conservative MP Hopkins questions Sinn Fein expenses

The right of Sinn Fein representatives to claim parliamentary expenses has been attacked by a Conservative MP.

Sinn Fein's five MPs are currently entitled to access public funds despite refusing to take their seats.

But Kris Hopkins, MP for Keighley and Ilkley, used a point of order to ask the Commons Speaker for guidance on how the practice could be stopped.

In June the DUP's Ian Paisley Jnr attacked the party over London allowances.

Mr Hopkins served in Northern Ireland as a member of the Duke of Wellington's Regiment

"Mr Speaker, you will be aware of the recent Westminster hall debate in which we were reminded that one party with representatives elected to this House still refuses to take up its seats yet claims its allowances and expenses," he said.

"May I ask you to make a ruling as to how we can bring this shameful activity to an end?

"Do you not agree that it is an affront to members who believe that it is a privilege to serve and debate in this House, and that it is not, as some others believe, possible to be an associated member of the Houses of Parliament?"

Speaker John Bercow said he was grateful to Mr Hopkins for raising the subject.

"I respect the fact that there is concern about this issue in some sections of the House.

"The honourable gentleman might be aware that a resolution of the House regarding the use of facilities and the ability to claim expenses that touched on precisely the matter that is of concern to him was passed on 18 December 2001.

"If the House wishes at any stage to consider this matter again and to debate and vote upon a resolution, it will, of course, be entirely open to the House to do so," Mr Bercow added.

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