Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Richard Benyon - Petrolhead?...Shurely shome mishtake?

From the just-published figures, I notice that Newbury MP Richard Benyon is an apparent "petrolhead", spending £2263 on car travel and only £333 on the train, even though he lives just three minutes from Theale station, which is on the mainline to Paddington.

Perhaps he travels in a Toyota Prius like Chris Huhne? If so, I wasn't aware of this. I thought Audis were Mr Benyon's favourite, and I have seen him driving a huge Range Rover. We wait to hear about the emissions level of his current car with bated breath.

Only recently, Richard Benyon was breathlessly heralding Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth", so one is anxious to hear the story behind his travel expenses. Perhaps he has recently switched to a more rail-orientated pattern of travel? I am very charitable aren't I?

This apparent mismatch of actions versus words is all the more surprising given this recent Churchillian pronouncement from Mr Benyon:

Climate Change is the defining issue of our age. Previous generations had to deal with the rise of Nazism or communism. This is the issue on which my generation of politicians will be judged. This is our Dunkirk.

Perhaps he is a late convert to this thinking? After all, the newly published figures are for 2005-6.


  1. I always saw Rendel travelling on the train to and from the constituency. O to have a local MP who practiced what he preached on the environment.

  2. Before challenging in such a way it might be worthwhile checking the travel costs for David Rendel in his final year as an MP.

    According to the website Mr Rendel claimed £5184 on travel between 04 and 05 significantly higher than Mr Benyon MP for the following year, this is broken down to £2405 by car and £2779 by train.

    In that year he was ranked 529th highest claimant compared to Mr Benyon being 562nd for the following year.

    In comparison Mr Benyon MP claimed £2596 for car travel and £333 by train

  3. Thank you. Nice to hear from you! Not only have I checked the historical travel claims, I have lived and breathed them for about seven days, and prepared a highly detailed and comprehensive spreadsheet on them, which is available here:

    Please let me know if I have got any figures wrong.

    You appear to think that the volume of emissions related to global warming is directly proportional to MP's claimed travel reimbursement amounts. That is not the case. If only the world was so simple!

    You are comparing total claimed expenses without taking into account: (a) that the MP's pence per mile reimbursement rate decreased by 30% between 2004/5 and 2005/6; (b) that rail travel
    has a far lower pollution per £ reimbursement rate than car travel, (c) that different cars have different CO2 emission levels while receiving the same mileage payment and (d) that, Richard Benyon in 05/06 was not elected until the first five weeks (10%) of
    the expenses year were already history.

    David Rendel virtually always travelled to Westminister by train - a total of 50 rail round trips most years. He travelled round the constituency in a relatively "green" car - i.e a small hatchback with carbon emissions of only 127 g/km. His total carbon emissions on claimed MP's business were therefore an average of 929 kgs per year from 2001-5.

    As Mr Benyon is now "investigating" a "green" car, it seems fair to assume that he travelled his 2005/6 mileage in an average sized car, that is one with a CO2 rate of, say, 200g/km (I'd welcome more information on this). His claimed travel, when
    annualised for comparison, would therefore have produced 2,068 kgs of CO2.

    So Richard Benyon's rate of carbon emission on MP's travel in 2005/6 was more than double David Rendel's
    annual average between 2001 and 2005. (Even if you compare it with David Rendel's claim for 2004/5 which produced 1,237kgs CO2, RB's CO2 emissions rate is 67% higher than DR's) That's hardly evidence of the "Dunkirk spirit" which Mr Benyon invoked in relation to global warming.