Much to like in Kelly’s Recommendations
Wednesday, November 4th, 2009 @ 11:49AM
Committee on Standards in Public Life Report on MPs’ Expenses and Allowances ”Supporting Parliament, Safeguarding the Taxpayer” was published today. Here’s the key recommendations and there’s much to like.
Will have a proper read of the full report and say more later.
Recommendations to like
* The new independent regulatory body already being set up should determine the pay and pensions of MPs as well as their expenses and should have the power to investigate and invoke non-parliamentary sanctions analogous to those operated by Her Majesty’s
* Support for the mortgage interest should be brought to an end, with appropriate transitional provisions of one more Parliament or for 5 years. From now on there will be no further capital gains at public expense. It also means that ‘flipping’ will no longer be possible. Any capital gains made during the transitional period attributable to public support will be surrendered to the taxpayer.
* Going forward MPs should be reimbursed only for rent or hotel costs. The Committee recommend that the independent regulator use a central agency to source, maintain and handle payments on suitable properties. This arrangement will make it easier to recognise the needs of those with families or other needs as it will be possible for the agency to provide larger accommodation where necessary. The arrangement should start for those MPs elected for the first time to the next Parliament.
* The expenses scheme should only cover additional accommodation costs wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred in pursuit of MPs’ parliamentary duties - council tax, utility bills, telephone line rental and calls, security, contents insurance and removals at the beginning and end of a tenancy. The costs of cleaning, gardening, furnishings and other items should not be reimbursed or otherwise covered.
* MPs with constituencies within reasonable commuting distance of Parliament should no longer be entitled to additional accommodation and the London cost allowance should be reduced for all London MPs to the level proposed by the (SSRB) independent pay review body in 2007. The Committee have proposed a higher rate for those who commute from outside Greater London area to reflect their higher travel costs.
* The practice of employing family members should be brought to an end by the end of the next Parliament of five years. The Committee heard evidence of the dedication and hard work of many employed family. But the arrangements is not in accord with modern employment practice on which Parliament should be giving a lead,
* The £25 overnight subsistence allowance should in future only be available to MPs staying in hotels and against receipts.
* Only MPs whose departure is involuntary should receive the resettlement grant from the next general election after next. MPs who voluntarily step down will instead receive eight weeks’ pay. Removal of the grant should
* All expenses should be accompanied by receipts or documentary evidence and receipts or documentary evidence should continue to be published.
* MPs should not be prohibited from paid employment such as journalism outside the House, providing any such activity in reasonable limits. But it should be transparent and information about it should be drawn to voters’ attention at election time
* The report also proposes that the practice of allowing a Westminster MP to sit simultaneously in a devolved legislature, known as ‘double jobbing’ should be brought to an end, ideally by 2011.
Recommendations to Dislike
* The communication allowance should be abolished.