David Heath MP, Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Somerton and Frome

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David Heath leads Lib Dems in expenses debate

David Heath MP has today led the Liberal Democrats on a key debate over MPs expenses.

The controversial debate over the expenses that MPs claim for comes after some members of the government had made unscrupulous claims.

Mr Heath, who sits on the front bench for the Lib Dems, described the government proposal as having “been drawn up on the back of a fag packet”.

Mr Heath has put forward a number of amendments to the motion. In particular he has raised concerns over the government’s plans to have MPs’ staff employed centrally.

Mr Heath said: “The Government seem to have been more concerned with appeasing public discontent than producing a fair and transparent system for funding the work of MPs. I am appalled that the government have not included important motions to this debate.

"For example some Ministers currently enjoy ‘grace and favour homes’ alongside the second homes allowance. This is clearly wrong and yet we have not been given the opportunity to question and vote on this. We have seen the expenses gravy train in Europe, we’ve even seen it in the second chamber, and we should not be inviting it in to the Commons.”

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Historic day for Parliament as Government loses Gurkhas vote

David Heath was today amongst the MPs who voted for a Lib Dem motion that all Gurkhas be offered an equal right of residence in the UK.

MPs voted by 267 to 246 in favour of the motion with members of the Government turning out to try to block the vote.

Speaking in the chamber after the vote, Mr Heath called on Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, to honour the will of the House and make an emergency statement.

Mr Heath has consistently campaigned in support of Gurkha residence and has often questioned Leader of the House, Harriet Harman, over the lack of debate in Parliament.

In November Mr Heath joined campaigner Joanna Lumley with Gurkhas in a rally in Parliament Square, where he made a speech against the government position.

Commenting after the vote, Mr Heath said: “It has been a truly historic day on a number of counts. We have a fantastic result for the Gurkhas across the country. As a campaigner who has fought for the rights of the Gurkha community I am tremendously pleased with the outcome of today’s vote.

"We have also seen the strength of this Labour Government overturned for the first time. They had not until today been defeated on a motion and I am particularly glad that it was not only a Liberal Democrat motion but a motion that will see Gurkhas given the residence that they deserve.”

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David Heath demands clarity on broadband investment

David Heath yesterday called for clarification on the Government’s broadband investment plans.

Mr Heath asked the Leader of the House, Harriet Harman, for a statement or debate on the Chancellor’s Budget reference to extra broadband investment.

Harriet Harman said: “Lord Carter is in the process of producing his second report on the matter. The post-recovery economy must be green and family-friendly, with a big emphasis on high skills and digital communications, and that is why investment in broadband is central to our proposals.”

Commenting, Mr Heath said: “Broadband is crucial for UK competitiveness and the wellbeing of rural communities. The Government needs to be clear on its investment plans – without this we can not know if they are adequate.

"As Internet usage is high in rural areas, I am particularly concerned that areas like my own constituency will lose out in the investment plans. This is why I will continue to press the government to consider the impact of broadband on rural areas."

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Plans to clean up Parliament desperately flawed, says Heath

David Heath has written a petition for Members of Parliament that heavily criticises Gordon Brown’s proposal to introduce a daily allowance for MP attendance.

Under the proposal, MPs would get about £150 a day just for arriving at work. The petition known as an EDM, argues that these proposals are not adequately transparent, are wide open to abuse by some MPs, and would penalise MPs that represent constituencies that are a large distance from Westminster.

On Thursday MPs will debate this proposal. Mr Heath will lead the Liberal Democrats in the debate.

Mr Heath said: “The Government’s proposal to introduce a daily allowance shows how desperate the government are to clear up the sleaze stories that have come out in recent months. Proposals like this will not be successful in improving public confidence in Parliament because they are ill thought through and will ultimately lead to further abuses of power."

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David Heath is top opposition MP in Parliament

David Heath is one of the top 5 MPs in the House of Commons for representing their constituents’ interests in Parliament.

A report from the Commons shows that he made 188 contributions from the start of the current session of parliament until the Easter recess. Above Mr Heath are three Ministers and the Speaker of the House. The report also shows that on average MPs have spoken 27 times in this parliamentary session.

Mr Heath has spoken on a wide range of issues from flooding in Somerton and Frome to Regional Select Committees. In February Mr Heath challenged Gordon Brown over Housing in the UK. He also presented his own Bill to Parliament in March.

Mr Heath said: “The Commons chamber is the main place where MPs can hold the Government to account over their actions and policies. It is important that an MP stands up to talk about the issues that are affecting the people they represent.

"I cannot imagine why many MPs shy away from speaking in the chamber when it is vital to getting the views and opinions of your constituents across to the government.”

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