Salford MP, Hazel Blears, who was at the epicentre of the MPs' expenses scandal a few years ago after hoarding a whole range of luxury items (see previous Salford Star articles – click here and click here) has been at it again – this time claiming £30.46 for Triple Velvet Toilet Rolls for her constituency office on Langworthy Road.
The claim, which was paid on expenses, was for two 18 packs of the rolls, which have `three layers of velvety softness'. It works out at 85p per luxury roll, compared to Andrex `Gorgeous Comfort Quilt' at around 41.7p per roll and, at the bottom end of the market, ASDA Smart at 17p per roll.
The Salford MP represents some of the most hard-up people in the country, a community struggling with fuel poverty, benefit cuts, wage cuts and cost of living increase. Hazel's need for `three layers of velvety softness', at £30.46, compares with her toilet roll claim for last year in which a Q-Connect 36 pack of toilet rolls cost tax payers a mere £11.52.
The Salford Star contacted the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, which confirmed the claim but told us - after comparing toilet roll prices on the net - that Hazel wouldn't be asked to pay back the difference.
Other claims for Hazel's office included a rather large payment of £205.20 for an advert for her surgery in `Salford Cathedral's publication', and £140.40 for a subscription and delivery of the Manchester Evening News.
There was also a claim for £1,320 for training for someone in her Parliamentary Office "to help him gain a better knowledge of Parliamentary Procedure, Bill explained and introduction to speech writing, all of which will improve his performace in relation to tasks i need him to do to support". You what? Perhaps a course in English might have been better... And definitely a course in home economics - 85p per toilet roll indeed!
Meanwhile, the Salford MP's latest register of interest claim shows that she also had a four day trip to Prague, worth £2,638.78, and paid for by a company called Ergotep.
The purpose of Hazel's visit was "to make keynote speech at international forum on social enterprise". We do hope they had the `three layers of velvety softness' toilet roll on hand for her…
• Unfortunately Hazel Blears' role as an adviser to Juice Advisory, `providing strategic advice on crime and policing matters', at £1,000 a day, was terminated after just one payment, the latest Register of Members' Interests shows. This happened after the press, including the Salford Star, publicised the payment ( see here)