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First class travel and unchecked expenses: The legal perks of being a French MP

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First class travel and unchecked expenses: The legal perks of being a French MP
Photos: public domain pictures and AFP
15:28 CET+01:00
The latest revelation surrounding François Fillon paying his wife parliamentary funds for a job a newspaper suggests she did nothing to justify has thrown into the spotlight the perks that come with being an MP in France.

Let's break down the figures from the French National Assembly site of what a French MP really gets from the government, and how they can use it.

What does a French MP get paid?

Their overall monthly salary for an MP is €7,143 . That's €5, 548 as a base salary, €166 for accommodation and €1,429 for something referred to as "indemnité de fonction", which basically covers MPs for any loss of "professional activities" and everyday costs for fulfilling the role. 

With that income, they have to pay social charges obviously, like everyone else. Taking away the pension payments and various ‘solidarity' contributions, a French MP takes home €4,959, (5,257 for MP's elected after June 2012).

How much can MP's pay their staff (and if it's their wife?)

An MP gets €9,562  per month to pay their employees, it's up to them how they choose to divide it up between staff.

And as for the issue we're all thinking of.  How much can an MP pay an employee who is a family connection, perhaps a wife?

According to a 1996 law, MP's are blocked from paying family members over half of the total amount given, so €4,700 per month.

What do French MP's get in expenses?

MP's get €5,805 to spend on expenses each month, but what exactly this is to be used for is famously unclear.

The official line from the National Assembly is that the expenses are to “respond to diverse expenditures linked to the exercise of their position which are not directly handled by the National Assembly”.

Photo: Jebulon/ Wikimedia

So really, it's up to the MP to decide how to use their expenses as it's not regulated. They could use it for food, clothes, rent or to boost the salaries of their employees.

In January 2015 it was discovered that some MP's had even been able to buy homes thanks to their expenses.

What transport perks are there?

French MP's ride first class on all SNCF trains for free, and if they put in a request, Paris's RATP transport network too. A dozen chauffeured cars are also available for MP's to get around in style.

And they also get flights free. A lot of them.

Some 80 flights a year between parliament in Paris and their constituency are covered, although obviously only if the route is served by an airline.Another 12 flights a year anywhere in Franc are covered.

Do French MP's pay taxes?

MP's aren't exempt from paying taxes, but they don't have to pay the full amount for their income. Their expenses and the part of their salary given for their position as MP (€1,429) are tax free.

Basically they can reduce the amount of income the tax man can get his hands on by €7,000.

MP's pay into a special retirement coffer that is supplemented by a monthly contribution from their salary and a subsidy from the parliament budget.

When it's time to retire at 62 (the retirement age went up from 60 to 62 in 2016), a French MP will get around €2,700 a month.

By Rose Trigg

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