It’s the last day of Parliament before MPs break up for Christmas, there’s a really important meeting of EU leaders in Brussels, and the new “Star Wars” film just came out — so the government thought it was a good time to release all its transparency data in one go. That’s all the data the government is required to disclose by law, all at once.
We’re not saying the government does this deliberately in order to make sure the data gets as little public scrutiny as possible, right before the holidays. But by amazing coincidence it works out that way anyway.
Seriously, take a look at my inbox:
Here are some of the most interesting things hidden in the data:
- Chancellor George Osborne was given an iPhone 6S by Apple in September. Unfortunately for Osborne, since the iPhone costs over £140 he would be breaking the rules if he wanted to keep it. So, officially the phone belongs to the Treasury.
- The Business Secretary Sajid Javid has received loads of freebies to music events. The UK copyright collection society PRS for Music gave him two tickets to Glastonbury, the Royal Opera House gave him two tickets to LaBoheme, and Global Radio gave him six tickets and VIP passes to the Capital FM Summertime Ball.
- It’s not just politicians taking advantage of the freebies, Javid’s young special advisor Nick King was also given a ticket to Glastonbury by mobile network operator EE.
- A huge amount of money was spent chartering flights for David Cameron. One trip to Indonesia in July for the Prime Minister and 17 others cost £309,502.35. Another return flight to the US for the same number of people in September cost £300,212.13.
- While many government ministers fly economy class, it appears that some get to travel in luxury. Tobias Ellwood, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary took a £6,292.46 flight to Mozambique in June and a £7,446.26 flight to South Africa in the same month.
- Sir David King, the UK’s Special Representative for Climate Change, spent £12,166 on two trips; one to Latin America and one to Asia. His expenses confirm that he flew the long haul legs of his trips in Business Class.
- The Department for Transport paid an incredible £1,150,000 putting legal notices in newspapers about the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail project. Apparently they had to do it to comply with a Standing Order from Parliament.
- The were some really highly paid people added to the public payroll this year. Simon Kirby the Director General of Hs2 is on £754,999 a year, and David Currie, the Chairman of the Competition and Markets Authority is on £309,999.
- Finally, there were some really odd numbers from The Government Car Service, the agency that provides secure cars and drivers to government ministers. The person who had by far the most rides last year was the junior Minister of State in the Home Office for Policing and Criminal Justice Mike Penning. Chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne only took eight.
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