Who is Labour MP Liam Byrne and why was he under investigation by Parliament?

Labour MP Liam Byrne (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA) (PA Media)
Labour MP Liam Byrne (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA) (PA Media)

A charge that Labour MP Liam Byrne used expenses to support his failed bid to become West Midlands mayor has been upheld by a parliamentary investigation, it was reported on Thursday.

According to a report by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, there is "overwhelming evidence" that a member of Byrne's staff worked on his 2021 campaign while under contract with and receiving compensation from Parliament.

Taxpayer-funded allowances can't be used for political campaigning by MPs.

The MP claimed that staff members had worked on campaigns voluntarily or while on vacation.

According to the report, the Birmingham Hodge Hill MP won't be required to pay back the money since it was impossible to determine the exact number of hours the staff member put in and because the investigation took longer than expected.

The report also mentioned a prior parliamentary investigation that showed Mr Byrne had 'bullied' a staff worker, which concluded in 2022. This case is what caused the delay in investigating the most recent case.

But who is Labour MP Byrne?

When was he elected?

Byrne has been serving as the MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill since 2004. A member of the Labour Party, he served in Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Cabinet from 2008 to 2010.

The 52-year-old obtained a first-class honours degree in Politics and Modern History at the University of Manchester. He also holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School at Harvard University, where he was a Fulbright Scholar, graduating with honours.

He held positions with Accenture and Rothschild & Co. before being elected to the House of Commons. In 2000, he also co-founded the venture-backed technology firm e-Government Solutions Group.

He assisted in leading Labour's business campaign in 1996–1997 and provided advice to the Labour Party on the reorganisation of its Millbank headquarters.

What roles has he had?

Under Prime Minister Tony Blair, Byrne held the positions of Minister for Borders and Immigration (2006–08) and Minister for Police and Counterterrorism (2006–2006).

From 2008 to 2009, he held the positions of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office in Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Cabinet.

From 2009 to 2010, he served as Chief Secretary to the Treasury at HM Treasury in place of Chancellor Alistair Darling. He is well-known for leaving his successor an "I'm afraid there is no money" note when he resigned as Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

He participated in Ed Miliband's shadow cabinet while in opposition, serving as shadow secretary of state for work and pensions from 2011 to 2013, shadow minister for the cabinet office from 2010 to 2011. Byrne continued to hold junior shadow ministerial positions under Miliband and later Jeremy Corbyn after being demoted in 2013.

In the 2021 election for mayor of the West Midlands, Byrne ran as the Labour candidate but fell short of Andy Street, the incumbent Conservative candidate.

What expenses can MPs claim?

According to the parliament website, MPs are reimbursed for the costs of maintaining an office, paying staff, finding housing in London or their constituency, and travelling between Parliament and their constituency.

The House of Commons also supplies all Members with a cash-limited amount each year in addition to any expenses that may be covered by the IPSA expenses programme for the provision of postage-paid envelopes and House of Commons stationery.