UK taxpayers' up in arms over MPs enjoying lavish perks and gifts

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London, July 26 (ANI): Tax payers in Britain are raising a hue and cry over their representatives in parliament enjoying lavish perks and gifts at their expense, especially at a time when the global economy is on the downswing.

A report in The Telegraph newspaper has revealed that Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague is one of two Tory MPs who have been given free rail passes by Grand Central trains, which offers a high-speed service between London and the north east.

Hague's complimentary first class rail travel pass is valid until March 2010, a perk which may anger his constituents in Richmond, North Yorkshire, who have to pay around 300 pounds per return journey for the same service.

The paper says that the gifts are revealed in the latest Commons' Register of Members Interests, which also has fresh details of the lucrative outside employment undertaken by some MPs.

Among the top earners was Jeremy Hunt, the shadow culture secretary, who is paid 500 pounds an hour working from July to December for Hotcourses, a training company he founded. Hunt declared 1,000 pounds a month for two hours work a month.

Edward Leigh, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, declared earnings of 10,001 pounds to 15,000 pounds for work as a parliamentary consultant to the insurance firm TWG Services Ltd.

Patricia Hewitt, the former Health Secretary, was paid 2,209 pounds for a speech to a digital technology summit in Sydney, Australia while Ed Vaizey, the Shadow Culture Minister, was paid 800 pounds for addressing a public policy conference.

Gifts include a trip to Silverstone given to Geoff Hoon, the former Defence Secretary. Owen Paterson, the Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary, was treated to "one day's racing at Ascot for my wife and me" by Co-operation Ireland, a charity promoting the peace process.

The updated register also has more details of the money paid to individual Tory MPs' offices.

Liam Fox, the Shadow Defence Secretary, received 10,000 pounds from the Tory Treasurer, Stanley Fink, and 4,500 pounds from Alan Howard, a hedge fund millionaire. (ANI)

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