Although the Kelly Report into MPs expenses was published yesterday some MPs have complained that their £65,000 a year salaries will not be enough to live on. This is despite the Kelly Report suggesting a crackdown on expenses which the public hoped would bring an end to the MPs gravy train. The report will reportedly save £12.4 million a year.
Sir Christopher’s main reforms include;
- No mortgage interest on second homes. They will only be able to claim for rent or hotel stays. Existing mortgage arrangements to be valid for lifetime of next Parliament.
- New independent parliamentary regulator to review appropriate limit for monthly rental claims.
- Ban on MPs claiming for gardening and cleaning costs. Second home claims to be limited to basic claims such as utility, telephone and council tax bills.
- Flipping banned. Any MP who makes capital gains on their property will have ro pay this back.
- Central agency to oversee new MPs’ accommodation needs in London, sourcing and handling payments on suitable properties.
- A ban on MPs employing family members on their payroll. Change to be phased in over five years.
- MPs within “reasonable commuting distance” of London will not be able to claim the new second homes allowance.
- Resettlement grants for MPs retiring voluntarily will be stopped from the general election after next. Instead they will receive eight weeks pay to wind up their office.
- MPs defeated at an election or deselected will get a pay-off equivalent to nine months’ salary.
- All candidates to become MPs must declare all their external financial interests and second jobs.
- £10,000 a year communications allowance to be abolished.
- MPs working late in the Commons to be reimbursed for transport home or overnight stays in London.
- All expenses must be accompanied by receipts.
- Overnight £25 subsistence allowance to be paid for hotel stays only and upon supply of receipts.
- No MP should be allowed to sit both at Westminster and in a devolved Parliament from 2011 onwards.
- New parliamentary regulator to have powers to demand information from MPs and seek repayment of expenses.
It is estimated that MPs will lose up to £20,000 a year from their expenses if the reforms are implemented.
MPs who oppose reforms include Sir Stuart Bell who has said MPs should be paid £90,000, but this is so they do not need to pay any expenses at all. Solicitor General Vera Baird said a pay rise would be a ‘necessary compensation’ for MPs. Sir Stuart Bell sits on the Members Estimates Committee, which prevented public access to MPs expenses during the scandal, so he is hardly in a situation lobby for pay increases.
The Sunlight Centre believes that the only way forward is to show leadership on these issues and put the abuses of the expenses scandal behind MPs, no matter how uncomfortable financially they feel. Indeed the Kelly Report has not set out to punish MPs instead it merely corrects a major systematic failure in the expenses system. The expenses regime was set up to facilitate MPs at work not as a substitute for pay. If MPs are unhappy with the amount they are being paid then perhaps they should either find another job or they have the option of in the Kelly Report of working a second job in parliament.
We believe this is the only way to restore respect and confidence in the British political system is to implement the Kelly Report.