Independent report

MPs' Expenses and Allowances: Supporting Parliament, safeguarding the taxpayer

The twelfth report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, published November 2009

Documents

MPs Expenses and Allowances - Full Report

This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request an accessible format.

If you use assistive technology (eg a screen reader) and need a version of this document in a more accessible format, please email official.publishing@nationalarchives.gsi.gov.uk. Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.

MPs Expenses and Allowances - Summary

This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request an accessible format.

If you use assistive technology (eg a screen reader) and need a version of this document in a more accessible format, please email official.publishing@nationalarchives.gsi.gov.uk. Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.

Detail

The Committee on Standards in Public Life has published its report on the future system of MPs’ expenses. The key recommendations are:

  • 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 Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)

  • 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, particularly since public money is involved and would not be accepted in other organisations.

  • The communication allowance should be abolished.

  • 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 also be considered as a sanction for those who are found to have abused the system.

  • 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.

Sir Christopher Kelly said:

“Revelations about the expenses system have caused considerable damage. I do not believe that trust in those who govern us will be restored unless those in authority show leadership and determination in putting the abuses of the past behind them, however uncomfortable that may be for some.

“We are clear that the three tests set for us by the leaders of the main parties – increased accountability, transparency and reduced cost – have been met. This report should now be handed over to the regulatory body for implementation in full, with the changes introduced from the beginning of the next Parliament. My Committee will continue to take a close interest.”