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Former Speaker John Bercow claimed £1,000 taxi fare

John BercowImage copyright
UK Parliament/ Jessica Taylor

Former Commons Speaker John Bercow spent £1,000 on a taxi fare and £12,000 on leaving parties for staff in the run-up to his retirement.

Mr Bercow, who stood down before the election, also spent £7,000 on a US visit in his final months in the job.

His expenses were obtained via a Daily Mail Freedom of Information request.

A Commons spokesman said the 260-mile round trip from London to Nottingham, in April, was made by taxi rather than train for security reasons.

Mr Bercow, who was accompanied by an aide, travelled to Nottingham to deliver a speech at the Political Studies Association annual conference.

The speech was about how Parliament should respond to the “anti-politics age” and what the Parliament of the future might look like.

Mr Bercow had travelled from London to Nottingham by train in 2018, for a meeting of the UK Youth Parliament, at a cost of £70, according to earlier Freedom of Information disclosures.

“Due to heightened security concerns for the safety of MPs, Mr Bercow was advised it was safer for him to travel to Nottingham Trent University by taxi, rather than by train,” said a Commons spokeswoman.

Leaving parties

In May 2019, Mr Bercow spent £7,000 on a visit to Washington DC, to deliver a speech on the “role of Parliament in today’s Britain” to a think tank, a trip that also took in Virginia and Boston.

The former Speaker’s expenses also included a £118-a-month Sky TV subscription for Speaker’s House, the apartment within the Palace of Westminster where Mr Bercow lived with his family.

The biggest expense in the final months of Mr Bercow’s nine-year tenure as Speaker was staff leaving parties.

The £12,000 bill included an invoice for £3,168 for a retirement party for Speaker’s chaplain Rose Hudson-Wilkin.

Rather than retire, she became the Bishop of Dover.

Mr Bercow also spent £2,376 on a retirement party for the Commons invitations secretary in February, and a month later another £3,187 for a formal farewell to Clerk of the House David Natzler.

In May, the Speaker’s official account spent £3,696 on giving the principal clerk of the Table Office a send-off.

Public speaking

A Commons spokeswoman said: “The Speaker’s Office has funded retirement receptions for senior staff many times in the past.”

Before standing down on 31 October, Mr Bercow used his official account to settle a £234 drinks bill at a reception for the Panel of Chairs – MPs who help him oversee Parliamentary debates. He also spent £560 on lunch for his counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Speaker is not subject to the same rules on expenses as other MPs, whose claims for food and drink are capped.

Mr Bercow has faced scrutiny over his expenses in previous years – in 2018, he spent £13,000 on an official visit to Canada and a similar amount in 2014 on a trip to Australia.

The former Speaker has signed up to a public speaking agency since retiring from the chair. He has also made a number of lucrative media appearances, including as a pundit for Sky News on general election night in December.

His successor as Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, has vowed to bring a “different style” to the job.