E-petition aims to end SF allowances

A PETITION has been launched in an attempt to stop Sinn Fein MPs from receiving their House of Commons allowances without taking their seats.

The e-petition on the government’s new petitions website will be debated in the Commons if it is signed by 100,000 people.

The petitions have the potential to stir serious political discussion, as demonstrated last week when the government suffered a bruising rebellion in a petition-triggered debate on whether to call a referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. West Belfast Ulster Unionist representative Bill Manwaring, who has created the petition, said that it could save taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds each year.

He said: “This is an issue that needs to be fully debated at Westminster. It is totally unacceptable for any constituency to go without representation in our national parliament.

“It is an example of the double standards shown by Sinn Fein members who accept their seats in an assembly that implements legislation from Westminster but will not sit at Westminster to raise the concerns of their constituents about the same legislation.”

Former prime minister Tony Blair agreed to allow Sinn Fein allowances for second homes in London, constituency offices and other expenses which MPs can claim for, despite Sinn Fein not taking their Westminster seats.

Prior to entering government, secretary of state Owen Paterson said: “It is absolutely inconceivable that a Tory-dominated House of Commons is going to vote for allowances for MPs who don’t turn up.”

However, the Conservatives have faced criticism for their failure to legislate to stop Sinn Fein’s ability to claim expenses without taking their seats.

l The petition can be viewed at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/20085