European Parliament Allowances
The cost of MEPs' travel from home to the places of work in Brussels and Strasbourg, in the UK and elsewhere on official parliamentary business is reimbursed at cost. Proof of travel is required.
MEPs receive a flat rate daily subsistence allowance for attendance on parliamentary duties outside the UK. I stay in a hotel in both Brussels and Strasbourg. I neither rent nor own any home other than the one I have owned and occupied with my husband in Islington in London since 1982.
MEPs receive a sum for office costs and other general running expenses. Receipts for items of expenditure costing more than £25 are available on request.
My staff allowances are administered partly (for Brussels staff) by the European Parliament and partly (for London staff) under a contract by my paying agent Nigel Bliss, a qualified accountant. He is also the finance director of the Liberal Democrats. The funds received monthly from the European Parliament for London staff go into an account which is separate from any party accounts, and staff salaries, services and expenses as well as employer's national insurances dues are paid from that account.
I have generally had since election in 1999 four or five employees at any one time; the names of the current ones can be seen here. I have never had a family member as an employee. My husband Steve Hitchins has been since 2006 paid fees for services and projects in support of my MEP office, to a total in the £10-20,000 range annually. These fees are included in the returns to the European Parliament authorities about the use of the parliamentary staff assistance allowance. Steve Hitchins is a consultant advising on commercial and local government issues after a career in business and politics. The matters on which he has assisted or advised me include: office lease and landlord negotiation; office maintenance and insurance; equipment purchase and installation; staff recruitment, interviewing, contracts and training; design and production of publications and information projects; constituency and party relations; and the operation of local and regional government in London.
Declaration of interests
Please see http://www.europarl.europa.eu/ep-dif/4529_21-02-2012.pdf. I was a member of the European Parliament's voluntary additional pension scheme from July 1999 to July 2009.
All MEPs are since July 2009 paid by the European Parliament a salary fixed at the rate of 38.5% of the basic salary of a judge serving on the European Court of Justice. In 2012 this amounted to €95,482.
European Parliament allowances 2012
Information on use of my allowances in 2012 can be downloaded below: