MEMBERS of Parliament should have the right to first class train travel, according to departing High Peak MP Tom Levitt —in the wake of controversy sparked by Macclesfield MP Nicholas Winterton.
Mr Levitt said elected representatives deserve the perk in order to be able to sit down and have a table, space and privacy to work during journeys to and from Parliament — and he said he needed a first class seat because of his height.
In a document sent to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) — which is responsible for drawing up a new allowances system to replace the existing expenses system — Mr Levitt wrote: "As I am over six feet tall, I have the leg room for comfort (in a first class carriage)."
Under proposals set out by the IPSA, MPs would only be allowed to travel first class in "exceptional circumstances", such as a journey of more than two-and-a-half-hours.
Speaking to the Buxton Advertiser, Mr Levitt said: "MPs do use their time on the train to work.
"They owe it to their constituents to work in a place where confidentiality of correspondence and dictation can be assured."
He added: "Even relatively junior civil servants have the right to first class fares.
"MPs should keep it, though the sheer amount of travel they do should earn parliament the right to reduced price tickets."
Mr Levitt will step down at the next general election, which is expected to be held on May 6.
He added: "My comments were made as someone who will not be subject to the new rules that govern expenses in the new Parliament."
The new allowances system proposes scrapping resettlement grants awarded to departing MPs, as well as banning family members working for them.
Mr Levitt said: "The current system is far better than what went before — which was typified by ambiguous rules, inconsistent application and some blatant exploitation."