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Do the new expenses rules add up?

13:17 UK time, Monday, 29 March 2010

MPs will not be allowed to buy taxpayer funded second homes under new expenses rules to start after the election. Is this the right decision?

Expenses chief, Sir Ian Kennedy, head of the new Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, has been considering proposals drawn up after a seven-month inquiry.

He said there would be "no second homes under the new rules" for MPs, instead they would be able to rent accommodation up to the value of a one-bedroom flat. He went on to say all claims would require receipts and payoffs to retiring MPs will be stopped.

However, he rejected the proposal that MPs should not be allowed to claim to employ any relative, saying they could offer "value for money". He said the "tough" rules were a "clear break" with the old discredited system.

Has IPSA got it right on new rules for MPs expenses? Do the new rules give the public value for money whilst allowing MPs to do their jobs? Is this a break with old system?

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Yes it is the right decision and seems to strike the right balance.

    Just maybe MP's will start to "get it."

  • Comment number 2.

    No they don't - why in a democratic country should we have faviourable T&C's for MP's - are they not human beings like the rest of us? This is job they choose? No body forced them to become MP's if they don't like it then let them find something else to do. Talk about moaning meenies

  • Comment number 3.

    Its a decent start, although the cynical part of me wonders how long it will be before an MP is caught claiming rent for a property they actually own...

    The big problem is still MPs insistence on self-regulation. There needs to be an independent comission with the powers to kick miscreants out of parliament and and reclaim mispent funds without any MPs or parties having any influence in the process.

    Oh & they should lose the 'right honourable' as a reminder to future generations of politiciansof the depths the current crop sank to.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    Good move.

    I do accept the argument that some MPs expenses must be born by the taxpayer; that to do otherwise would lead to a situation whereby only the independently wealthy would be able to hold power in this country.

    I don't accept that this means we need to pay for them to live in the lap of luxury.

    If we have to provide them accommodation - and we really do, I think, if we're expecting MPs who live in the Northern areas of the country, for instance, to regularly travel down to London to attend Parlimentary sessions - then it should be no more (and no less) than the "average" sort of accomodation that people in this country can afford.

    Actually, in the current climate, somebody on an "average" salary would have trouble even affording a one-bedroom flat in London, such as is being proposed for the MPs - but its close enough.

    And if any of them have a problem with getting the "average" - well, they can damn well put a bit more thought into how they might go about raising what is considered to be "average" in this country. Plans to help reduce the vast gap between house prices, and average working wages, for instance. Plans to make us all a little better off, so that we can afford better places to live ourselves.

    If all MPs were forced to live like their constituents do, I think they'd probably give a bit more consideration to raising quality of life for all the people in this country; not just their own particular favourite special-interest groups.

    And yes, rental only - no more mortgages, for second homes or otherwise. I have no problem with paying for my MP to have somewhere to stay while he/she is visiting London. I do, however, have serious problems with being expected to fund them for an extra property, which they won't need once they stop being MPs and which they can use to profit from in the future.

  • Comment number 6.

    Maybe a step in the right direction for taxpayer-sponsored second homes etc. Having said that, maybe there's less loot to make in property speculation these days anyway so the troughers don't mind giving that one a miss.

    But...

    how does the idea of employing "value for money" family members fit in with job recruitment equal opportunity laws and do MPs have to justify the suitability/appropriate qualifications/previous job experience aspects of these valuable family employees? Do we still have one law for us and a different one for the troughing class?

    To me the whole lot of it still stinks anyway...

  • Comment number 7.

    It all sounds like a step forward, they ought to look into stopping the food allowance as well as everyone else in the country manages to buy food from their wages so there's no reason MPs can't.

  • Comment number 8.

    So what is a one bedroom flat to an MP? How many luxuries are included in this? This is not gonna work out well I can see it now

  • Comment number 9.

    To be Honest they should not be able to claim for half of the stuff they do. I believe they should cut most of the perks they enjoy. This may cause a lot of them to resign but at least we may end up with MP's who are actually there to work for us and not to jump on a gravy train funded by the tax payer.

  • Comment number 10.

    Why not use the Olympic accommodation after the Olympics are finished..

  • Comment number 11.

    Yes, they do.

    If an MP can't do the job on the money paid they should do what everyone else has to do- GET A DIFFERENT JOB!

    If someone wants to line their pockets they should do it by WORKING, not by getting the tax payer to do it. Hopefully one day the expenses will be reduced to the level most people can claim- ZERO.

  • Comment number 12.

    They will just claim more for something that they are allowed!

  • Comment number 13.

    As long as an MP can employ their wife or children, the system is a farce. This would never be tolerated in any other large professional organisation.

  • Comment number 14.

    About Time,If I had been fiddling expenses I would have been instantly dismissed, and probably prosecuted.
    I found the arrogance of some MPs breathtaking.I for one want to see more prosecutions and then I will happy.
    Lets hope the new rules for expenses are properly audited as well.

  • Comment number 15.

    Actually they do not. Whilst we have far to many MPs, 250 would be nearer the mark, the new rules are frankly somwhat unrealistic. These are people with a responsible job and yes we all know the power is an attraction but they need paying properly and frankly the current pay level after tax is unrealistically low.£10kpa is about the mark. £15 for a meal allowance is a nonsense £25 is ok £15 is not,a fixed upgrade deal should be struck with virgin et al so they get 2nd free and can upgrade at their expense.They can rent or buy with an allowance as per the current suggestion. Repairs to houses in their consituancy or london becomes their responsibility. A taxi allowance for late night sitting beyond 9pm are quite reasonable either to a station or within a 20 mile radius on parliament.

  • Comment number 16.

    Quote j public "Having just seen the supposed 'shakeup' of politicians expenses, I see that politicians will forego their second homes but for those living just 20 miles (or 60 minutes)or more will be able to claim £1450 per month!!!??

    What a total and utter joke - is this what Gordon Brown calls a 'shakeup'? How many people do you know that live 20 miles or more from their place of work can claim £1450 every month?? This is not a shakeup, its the same benefit just spun differently. 20 miles - most people I work with have to travel 20 miles or more to work and they earn between £20k to £30k but get no allowance. MP's disgust me to the bone. Its yet another benefits system set up by one of their own - Sir Ian Kennedy. What a con. What a complete and utter con. "

    Absolutely, I wish I could claim £1500 a month tax free in travel costs, instead they just pile on the tax on fuel and then expect me to pay to park in my company carpark. Thanks to NI, PAYE and tax credits, I only gain £30 a month for every £100 a month my employer pays me and I have to pay for Diesal and parking from that £30.

    Vote BNP and lets claim our country back from thieving parasitic politicians.

  • Comment number 17.

    "Is this a break with old system?"

    On the face of it , i'd have to say no , it looks like the gravy train is set to roll on dressed up in a new coat of paint.

    Who will monitor the roles of family/related members ? How much will they be allowed to pay them ? Will the jobs assigned be placed on the open job market for all that are qualified to apply ? Will they be subject to scrutiny on relavent qualifications and be monitored on targets and subject to performance reviews ?

    Who will carry this all out ?

    Will politicians be allowed to rent a home that they have purchased on the open market at full market rent value ?

    I think nothing will change , i'd rather give them a pay rise and scrap all these bogus expenses and make them fully accountable for the work they do or don't do , as the case may be. They have been shown to be far too greedy to be trusted with expense allowances. It's glaringly obvious that the employing of family members will be milked to to hilt and full marks to the BBC reporter who was first up with a question relating to emplying family members.

    I have no confidence in any of it.

  • Comment number 18.

    10. At 1:52pm on 29 Mar 2010, Queby wrote:
    Why not use the Olympic accommodation after the Olympics are finished..

    ----

    Genius. Members of Parliament potentially sharing a stadium with West Ham.

    Thats one reality show I'd pay to watch.

  • Comment number 19.

    Sorry - but why allow them to even claim for a rental flat. If they need to stop over book a hotel or even better go to a B&B. I just found one for £52 a night. They don't need a permanent residence in London (either rented or bought). If they did then they wouldn't need a first residence outside London. If you look at the TV coverage at the commons any day of the week you can see how many of them are missing. They're mostly out doing what they should be in their constituency (or they should be).

    5. At 1:47pm on 29 Mar 2010, Khrystalar wrote: .... And yes, rental only - no more mortgages, for second homes or otherwise. I have no problem with paying for my MP to have somewhere to stay while he/she is visiting London...

    Nor do I but only WHILST THEY'RE STAYING IN LONDON. They DO NOT NEED a residence in London.

    Flaming well commute like the rest of us or book into temporary accommodation like the rest of us and there should be a limit on how much per night they're allowed to claim. No mayfair hotels etc.

    I don't live in luxury and I object to paying for them to.

  • Comment number 20.

    It is still a bit generous... why not purchase an hotel or block of flats and allow the MP (only, partner pays if they choose to come along) to stay free of charge. You could include an evening meal and breakfast if you like, charged at cost, or give them cooking facilities to prepare their own meals. A rail pass to get home, free Internet, & that's your lot. Secretarial help to be provided from a central civil service pool in London, constituency offices to be funded by the local party.

    Then you don't have rules to be flouted, they're given what they actually need to do the job and don't have to claim for anything.

  • Comment number 21.

    A difficult balancing act, how to protect the public purse, whilst ensuring that the Employee also is treated fairly. There are few, if any, jobs that require the employee to both work closely in a remote area such as north Yorkshire or Cornwall, and also attend head office almost daily. To provide office services for customers at their own expense in one place, and run another office elsewhere.
    The danger of cutting back to much on both expenses and Income for M.P.s is that the cutbacks could exclude those of unsupported income.

  • Comment number 22.

    Too little, too late.

    Many of the expenses fiddling MPs will be stepping down at the next General Election, keeping their second homes which have been paid for by taxpayers, getting rewarded for fiddling their expenses through payments for stepping down and will be entitled to a huge pension, funded by taxpayers.

  • Comment number 23.

    Now that MP's have had their expenses removed maybe they will gain an understanding of the "real" world that the rest of us have to live in. Next step should be some sort of productivity level to justify the salaries they receive, no doubt they'll be wanting an increase now that their perks have been removed. If MP's don't like it they can always get another job as so many HYSers like to say when similar changes apply to normal working people. There are many unemployed people out there who could do their job for less, work longer and harder, and do a better job.

  • Comment number 24.

    I wonder how many MPs will rent a flat at an over the odds rate from one of their relatives? I also wonder how many will be shown to be de facto ownners of the property they are renting when the reasons why they are paying more than an actual mortgage in rental fees is investigated. Build a block of flats with a canteen, give them one when elected; they can eat in the canteen. Have an office at the HoC handle their travel arrangements. Presto no more expenses, and one thing less for the tax payer to be worrying about.

  • Comment number 25.

    Forget the expenses - look into the recent 'cab for hire' lobbying scandal! This is the most corrupt thing yet that I have heard of! We all pay the politicians of this country to represent us, so do we suddenly get more representation if we pay more? This is not the Labour party any more. This is an elitist organisation, nothing more. What happened to Britain?

  • Comment number 26.

    It is a start, but ONLY a start!

  • Comment number 27.

    This doesn't go far enough, in my opinion.

    An MP should be able to survive on his or her basic salary. If they can't, then perhaps they should consider a difference career, and let their space be filled by someone who puts the countries interests before their own.

  • Comment number 28.

    They are shameless aren't they? They are not even bothered that their coveted "Place in history" is that they will be forever known as the most corrupt Parliament ever. So, they take their place alongside the "Rotten" and the "Rump" Parliaments as the "Corrupt" Parliament and it doesn't seem to worry them. I suspect that all that this "New" set of rules will do is keep the true facts from prying public eyes. To me, there is only one hero in all this, The Daily Telegraph for having the courage to show us, the public, what a dirty thieving rotten bunch of lying scoundrels we are given a miserable choice of whom to vote for.

  • Comment number 29.

    Just give MP's a decent salary and scrap most of the expenses.
    An MP deserves a good salary.

  • Comment number 30.

    I do not have a problem with MPs employing a relative IF that relative does the job they're paid for.

    Is there any independent means of verifying this? Other than "Oh yes, MrsMP says her hubby does a great job?"

    On the 2nd home front, If the taxpayer pays the mortgage and the maintenance and refurbishment, why shouldn't the taxpayer get the profit?

  • Comment number 31.

    MPs will not be allowed to buy taxpayer funded second homes under new expenses rules to start after the election.
    Those with constituencies at least 20 miles or 60 minutes from Westminster will be able to claim up to £1,450 a month - equivalent to a one bed flat.

    I think this is great, MP’s can still claim £1.450 a month £17.400 pa if they live 20 miles of 60 minutes away from Westminster.

    Unemployed people are told by the Job Centres that they must be willing to travel up to 90 minutes to work, that’s a good 50 miles one way 500 miles a week return, fuels just gone up to £1.20p a litre, it’s nice to see how they can help themselves but fail to help the average working man who’s got to fork out over £300 a month on fuel to keep the tax man and Gordon Brown happy.

    Oh the benefits of the self opinionated, self governing individuals who benefit from us the taxpayer without even asking permission. What a Nice Life our MPs have.

  • Comment number 32.

    Pathetic, they can still employ family members this should have been banned, there are thousends of young people out of work that can be employed as staff for MPs, employing a family member is just a backdoor way of getting more money.

  • Comment number 33.

    These proposals are a great step forward! When will they be enacted??? We hope - asap?

    Will, now, the very wealthy Cameron and Osborne do a J F Kennedy?

    JFK was independently wealthy. JFK set an example and refused a salary while in the Senate and while serving as President of the USA. He believed it was immoral to claim from the taxpayers while being a millionaire?

    As for our MPs employing their wife or civil partner - that's definitely worth retaining? MPs work better if their permanent partner works with and for them as they share a common knowledge and experience of their constituents.

  • Comment number 34.

    I still have a problem with paying for them to say which apartment etc they can claim for, what on earth is wrong with having purpose built apartments , that way security can be taken care of at the same time , these guys and gals still don`t get it , they get a good salary plus other perks of the job , also employing family members is ok as long as they do a good job and its provable . ie not just nipping out posting a couple of letters on the way to college etc .get them sorted out for goodness sake ....and i hope the food allowance has been knocked on the head .

  • Comment number 35.

    This is a good start, now their bloated salary and pension should be reduced.

  • Comment number 36.

    Well done and huge thanks from ALL taxpayers to 'The Telegraph' Newspaper investigative teams and journalists for exposing the disgusting scandals of exploitation of taxpayers money that would still secretly be continuing today!!

  • Comment number 37.

    they are well paid for a part time job minimal expences only and the state employes one helper each only, and they will be paid civil service rates with NO perks but personally i will not trust an mp with a biro that has used all its ink

  • Comment number 38.

    I think an MP's salary is pretty good for not doing a lot (apart from labour getting us into massive debt), so that salary should suffice (as it does with other salaried positions)for any extra time they put in. Expenses should be paid in line with what most companies pay in Britain (there are so called executives the length and breadth of Britain that milk their companies with 1st class travel, the best hotels etc;etc)standard allowances. My judgement would be as follows:-
    1. No 2nd home allowances, where your family is, that's your home, if you live within commuting distance of parliament you should travel.
    2. When you travel use 2nd class unless you are prepared to pay the difference yourself.
    3. Most people have to pay for their own mid-day meal, so should MP's.
    4. Nothing should be claimed unless it specifically relates to conducting your business on that day, when it is claimed, all receipts should be produced to back it up.
    5. Like any other business, if a member of your family is employed they should be registered with the inland revenue, the employer ( the MP ) should register with the inland revenue as a business and he/she should file their return (p35) at the end of each tax year. In line with current law they should also receive a payslip each week/month and receive all entitlements that the law dictates. Family members should also pay their dues in the form of income tax and national insurance.
    Maybe one day when all the crud has been despatched from parliament I may pay some attention to what a politician says, and maybe have some respect for them, at the moment my respect level is nil.

  • Comment number 39.

    I suspect that the parliamentary pigs will quickly find a new trough to feed in. Honesty and marals do not seem to be their strong point.

  • Comment number 40.

    MPs.would only want to rent a room for 3 nights and there are plenty advertised on the telly for £29 per night,and good ones at that.They work a 4 day week in London so why do thy want a flat for 7 days.Plus they get 4 months away from Parliament,again why do they want to rent a flat for 12 months?One other thing comes to mind.Who will be the landlord of these flats?I dread to think.

  • Comment number 41.

    Mo second homes under the new rules is the right decision. But I expect over the coming months and years the MP's will demand more expenses and increases in salary to 'compensate' them for any loses.

  • Comment number 42.

    I'm sorry but how can this possibly 'add up'? An MP has to live only 20 miles and can claim up to £1450 per month. And they will probably end up renting from someone they know.

    How can you limit this to just 20 miles or more? Most people I know who earn £20k to £30k live more than 20 miles from their place of work yet cannot claim an allowance for renting.

    And as for still allowing employment of relatives is just beyond a joke.

    They have employed one of their own, Sir Ian Kennedy, to come up with a scheme which appears largely a spin on the old set of 'rules'. And how much has Sir Ian Kennedy been paid for this?? Rip-off after rip-off after rip-off. They think they can just spin similar rules to us and hope we'll buy it. All that has happen is Sir Ian has made a killing out of us to come up with a new system which has as much loop holes as the old system. Nothing changes, nothing ever will until these career politicians are kick out of power.

  • Comment number 43.

    So the MP gets his brother to buy the property then rents it from him at our expense.

    Can these fools not see the obvious?

    Oh, and 7 family members will be employed as cleaners, one for each day of the week!

  • Comment number 44.

    What is proposed is quite reasonable. We expect our MP to be in the House of Commons and we also expect him/her to be in the constituency regularly. Therefore we must provide reasonable accomodation - and I hope that they will have to use approved Letting Agencies!

  • Comment number 45.

    "15. At 2:04pm on 29 Mar 2010, peter wrote:
    Actually they do not. Whilst we have far to many MPs, 250 would be nearer the mark, the new rules are frankly somwhat unrealistic. These are people with a responsible job and yes we all know the power is an attraction but they need paying properly and frankly the current pay level after tax is unrealistically low.£10kpa is about the mark. £15 for a meal allowance is a nonsense £25 is ok £15 is not,a fixed upgrade deal should be struck with virgin et al so they get 2nd free and can upgrade at their expense.They can rent or buy with an allowance as per the current suggestion. Repairs to houses in their consituancy or london becomes their responsibility. A taxi allowance for late night sitting beyond 9pm are quite reasonable either to a station or within a 20 mile radius on parliament. "

    Have you eaten in the houses of parlement. All the bars and resturants are heavely subsidised. £15 will buy a good 3 course meal and a few glasses of wine. Why should we pay for them to eat out side parmiment when they can eat in.

  • Comment number 46.

    If your employer requires you to stay away from home for a night then your employer will pay for your accommodation whilst you are away from home. They will also pay travel expenses, either a mileage allowance, taxi fares, train fare or plane fare. If those expenses were not paid by your employer then you would not stay away from home, would you ? But lots of people making comments on here expect MPs to do just that, i.e. incur reasonable business expenses but not be able to claim them back from their employer.

    Also, have the people shouting on here about not having a flat but staying in a hotel ever tried that for a long period of time ? I’m not taking about a week’s holiday – I’m talking about months on end in a hotel ? I’ve had to do that for business, and let me tell you it’s no fun. People have told me before it must be great living in a hotel 4 or 5 nights a week. Well, it’s not when you’re doing it for several months on end, I can assure you of that.

    Of course, the alternative is that all MPs live in London, since that’s where their ‘factory’ is, so they wouldn’t need a flat or hotel. But then people would complain they are not representing their constituencies. So, which option to you prefer ?

    Finally, 20 miles; Yes, lots and lots of people drive that to work every day, but try driving 20 miles in to a big city in the morning and see how long it takes you.

  • Comment number 47.

    "The buy to let landlords many are M.Ps. !!!! should pay rates on all the propertys' they own, closed the loop hole, no council tax dodgers'"in Parliment.

  • Comment number 48.

    A one-bedroomed place?

    You mean, like a duck house?

  • Comment number 49.

    Right at the end of his explanatory speech, Sir Ian mentioned that although "expenses" would be curbed his remit did not look into "allowances" which are a different thing. Thus the large amounts of ££ given to MP's as allowances could well continue unabated, possibly unnoticed and even increased to make up for the hardships the poor boys & girls will now have to endure!

    One fairly recent example is the massive IT allowance which was just "given" to every MP from last year for IT work, but with no checks it has been used for other things, like eg, blatent electioneering. The list & amounts of allowances given to MP's, inc. ministers and cabinet members needs to be made public and an investigation into which are fair & which should go also needs to be introduced or it will be hidden away - and possibly misused, perish the thought!

    What about money paid for trips to obvious jolly holiday destinations for an unimportant "business conference". Who decides which MP's go & who pays for these?

    There's still lots of other fiddles to investigate, please Mr, before we will see an MP being treated the same as us peasants.

    The expenses changes should only be a stsrt, not to fade away after the GE.

  • Comment number 50.

    No this is still a useless system that is obviuosly going to be abused and very easily. The ordinary tax payer is not getting value for money here, we will be spending vast amounts of money on accomodation that will be very exhuberant with the high rentals going into the pockets of thier cronie mates who own a few flats in the city. Parliament should purchase property for the sole purpose of accomodating MP's in the city that way the public benefit from property increases and not have to deal with over inflated rental prices. We are just talking about a place to wash and sleep here, this is not thier permanent residence. if they want a place in the city that they can entertain guests then buy thier own place. All they need is a bed, a toilet and shower and a kitchen. They do not need a lounge because we are not paying for them to lounge around like dole scroungers.

  • Comment number 51.

    A valid receipt for services rendered. Welcome to the real world.

    @35 look to the local councillors first my friend if you want to see bloated salaries.

  • Comment number 52.

    I have so little faith in the existing scumbags that I imagine they'll find a way to cream off thousands from the taxpayer. The 'Golden Goodbyes' are an excellent record of just how low these people go and the state of their moral compasses.

    Besides, when we've finished with 'them' let's get the Lords and the lickspittle MEPs.

    Cromwell, even Guido Fawkes, where art thou?

  • Comment number 53.

    Great news that MPs no longer will benefit from capital gains at the taxpayers' expense. Let's put MEPs under scrutiny now shall we?!

    Do actually agree with Sir Ian Kennedy that MPs should be allowed to employ their PERMANENT partners, BUT not their children.

    Our long-standing Conservative MP, Alistair Burt and his wife, are very genuine and have worked together for many years. Both work for, and understand the constituency plus, have accumulated and combined knowledge and work as a team for the constituents. (incidentally we didn't vote Conservative).

    However, if an MPs' partner has their own career - then that's quite a different scenario? If you aim for, and are elected to public office, then your partner will be aware that unless they work full-time under employment for the MP., then they have no right to claim salary or expenses? You work for the public purse or not - there is no grey area allowed!!!



  • Comment number 54.

    @ #29 Andrew Lye wrote: "An MP deserves a good salary."

    You, sir, are surely having a laugh?

  • Comment number 55.

    Why don't we accept that everything is driven by money. So far our representatives have never been surcharged for their failures. So its easy gain but no loss. It would be quite another matter if they could be fined for their failures unless it could be proved that there was no way any other decision would be made. No one has lost their jobs as a result of our economic calamity, Gordon Brown has resisted election call after election call. Well perhaps the Assets of the Labour party could be frozen and the taxpayer paid back.

  • Comment number 56.

    He said the "tough" rules were a "clear break" with the old discredited system. What is missing however, is that this will not apply to those who have already purchased, are in the process of purchasing, or thinking about the option of purchasing a second home as this will be retrospective and unfair! If the unlikely happens and we suffer another Nu-Lab govUK this will quickly change to, “or the new intake, who were planning to, or at least thinking about, or considering the possibility of potentially buying a second home.” Well that’s nice and clear!
    After all would it not be discriminatory to have two levels of MP those with a second home and those forced to live in RENTED 1 bed flats! They would feel inferior! That’s not fair! Did not Brown say that the New Nu-Lab govUK would be fair?
    So it will be business as usual! Snouts in the T(r)OUGH! See it is tough if you look hard!

  • Comment number 57.

    Nothing changed , the main culprits (Smith , Mcnulty etc etc) have got off scott free. They wont regain trust untill they and others are prosecuted like anyone else would be.

  • Comment number 58.

    Great, so now they claim the £1450 but travel home every time. That is if they bother attending!. These people could not organise a booze up in a brewery, they would forget the bottle opener.

  • Comment number 59.

    The MP expenses row has probably cost the country half a year of MP productivity at a time when there are certainly bigger fish to fry.

    I really hope that we can close this book now.

  • Comment number 60.

    MP's should be treated the same as any other UK worker. What is good enough for us is good enough for them. If non-London MP's need to stay overnight in London for business reasons then reasonable accommodation/travel costs can be claimed for those nights/trips only.

    Outside 20 miles as being "outside London" is the magical opt out and just continues the present fraud. The distance should be set at a much higher figure. Welsh & Scottish AM's & MSP's use a similar low mileage figure so no change there then. The fiddles continue, just renamed.

  • Comment number 61.

    It has been shown time & again MPs can not self regulate. It is only a matter of time before the first reports of MPs claiming rent allowances for a home they own. As has been said MANY times before MPs ought to be living in westminster owned accommodation blocks, much like the armed forces, that way they have everything they NEED to do their job when they have to be in London & won't have to put in claims for second homes expenses.

    The public will never get value for money while our politicians insist on jetting off around the world to attend flashy summits where the best food, drink & accommodation money can buy is given to them so they can discuss issues which are unproven by unbiased scientists, but they have hyped the masses in to a furore about. Not to mention the cost of the legions of security staff who have to attend such events.

  • Comment number 62.

    MPs will still be allowed to employ a single family member or relative in the House of Commons - so no end to the nepotism! They will just pay their wife another £60k per annum to make the teas and coffees!!

  • Comment number 63.

    The new system will mean a lower maximum total claim for all MPs, with the cost of accommodation and constituency office to fall from £56,915 to £40,957 outside London. For those within the capital the total will fall from £40,192 to £26,915.!

    But nothing about all the other allowances - my bet is the over all totals claimed every year will not go down - you will see other categories of expenses going up - its just another WHITEWASH folks!

  • Comment number 64.

    No more second home mortgage relief, rented accommodation only, v.good.
    I suppose the £1450 a month rent for a single bedroom flat is the average rate for a flat near Westminister.
    My son rents in Haringay and he pays £1000 a month.
    The problem with MPs expenses, most people would regard a salary of £65K a year as being like winning the lottery.
    Now are they going to do anything about MPs consultancies and lobbying activities. I've yet to hear an MP declare an interest(like a local councillor has to) when speaking on a matter he is being retained as a consultant on, or abstaining from voting(like a local councillor has to)
    on a matter he is being retained as a consultant on.

  • Comment number 65.

    This is awful news! My millionare MP in North Herefordshire will become destitute surely?? He has been claiming £1,300 per month expenses in mortgage relief alone on his £1million pound London (second) home. How will he & his family cope?? I just hope the £400 a month he claims in food expenses isn't stopped as well, otherwise, they will be googling for 'soup kitchens' in the area! And they may have to sell their £500,000 home in the constituency too! It really is not fair! Some people have such bad luck, don't they?? Wink, wink. Love it!

  • Comment number 66.

    Come on HYS commenter's please go though the 'new' expenses rules and see how many holes are in it! Please lets expose the WHITEWASH

  • Comment number 67.

    "Do the new expenses rules add up?
    I'm not sure I trust the 'computerised-system' to process 'claims' - we need someone accountable for errors. A computer cannot be held accountable. How many times have we heard the phrase 'sorry - computer error'? Do we 'fire' the computer when it err's? We want a person who understands that: 'the buck stops here'. "A 'compliance officer' with the power to impose sanctions on MPs who break the rules." seems somewhat weak-knee'd - how about massive fines or even de-selection for those that 'break the rules' instead? What about enforcing responsibility on those that aspire to positions of responsibility such as running a Nation? - if you cannot act responsibly - how can you possibly consider yourself suitable for such as position?
    Harriet Harman said the new scheme "puts in place a fully independent, transparent system, which will be subject to robust audit and assurance" - but then, she would, wouldn't she? If Harman has anything to do with 'transparency' in politics, I obviously fail to understand what 'transparent' and 'indepenent' mean. Harman's claim that this new system "marks a fresh start and a clean break with the past." - is so very presumptive and arrogant. A 'clean break' is so easily said - but not so easily believed - until proven - openly. If Harman has anything at all to do with MP's expenses, I will treat it with the contempt it deserves - just as I would, blind, unhearing dogmatism - thanks to the antics of her and her comrades.
    I have no problem with relatives being hired by an MP - after all - I'd generally trust a relative more than an outsider - especially when it comes to government matters and possible security - anyway, relatives can usually be asked to do more - for less.
    Expenses-abuse must be 'water-tight' and be seen to be 'water-tight'. Too much of this kind of abuse has been permitted for too long. If there are further such abuses after the election - then we can say goodbye to 'democracy' and hello to a maelstrom of discontent such as this Country has never seen before.



  • Comment number 68.

    They appear to be a practical answer to some of the worst excesses of the previous scheme. However, cynic that I am, I'm sure that there will already be some MP's looking for loopholes in the system.

    I'm unsure about the second home system. I'm not a believer in the current requirement that an MP MUST have a home in the constituency they represent. I'd far rather they had their main home in London (where their main duties are carried out)and rented accomodation in the constituency.

  • Comment number 69.

    It seems like some steps in the right direction. But there is a still huge potential for abuse around employing even one family member.

    How will we really know if a family member was the best candidate for the post? Who else will be considered? Once appointed, who will monitor their work to make sure it is value for taxpayers' money? Who are they accountable to?

    And how is it, that if I want to employ and assitant or secretary I am subject to Labour's huge edifice of PC equality laws. And yet a publicly funded post of MP's secretary can be appointed on the basis of family connection.

    This stinks!

  • Comment number 70.

    It seems fair enough as far as it goes, but will the daily meal allowance go, and if not - why not? What about MPs who have already bought houses/flats in London. Will they have to pay any profit made to the taxpayer? Who will ensure that flats rented by MPs are not owned by relatives or phoney companies set up to cream the taxpayer? There are still pleny of loopholes which the unscrupulous can exploit.

    I have just read over my comments and realise how little trust I have in MPs. This is the unhealthy situation which we now have in this country, caused almost 100% by their 'fill your boots lads' attitude.

  • Comment number 71.

    "Yes, they do.

    If an MP can't do the job on the money paid they should do what everyone else has to do- GET A DIFFERENT JOB!

    If someone wants to line their pockets they should do it by WORKING, not by getting the tax payer to do it. Hopefully one day the expenses will be reduced to the level most people can claim- ZERO."

    A few issues with this: Firstly, it is quite clearly untrue that "most people can claim zero expenses". Anyone who has to travel for their job, whether they be sales people or office based people who have to stay occasionally in hotels or claim for meals, can claim expenses. So to suggest that "most people cannot claim" is hysterical nonsense, and really doesn't help your argument.

    The argument that "if you can't do the job on the money paid you should get a different job" is a nice tabloid style soundbite, but it doesn't actually address the problem. If the job cannot be done on the money paid, then either the format of the job is wrong, or the pay structure is wrong. This doesn't necessarily mean that expenses are the answer. It could, for example, mean that meetings are conducted using Skype or some sort of video conferencing, but simply blurting out "if you can't afford to do the job then don't do it" is just immature ranting.

    There is a very real problem here which most people fail to address, largely, it seems, because they think that being an MP is some hugely glamorous exciting existence, and they are simply plain jealous. But it is this: If you have a constituency in, say, Yorkshire, and you're expected to spend at least 3 days a week in Parliament, you are going to have to fund this somehow. The alternative is simply driving up and down the motorway numerous times each week between London and Yorkshire (which, incidentally, would also be expensive not to mention a very inefficient use of an MP's time). If NO expenses could be claimed, then the only people who could do the job would be the very wealthy, which I assume is not a situation you would relish?

    There is no milage whatsoever in trying to relegate the job of MP to the point where it becomes completely unatrractive and financially unworkable, just because certain members of the public have some sort of neurosis about other people having more perks than they do.



  • Comment number 72.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 73.

    I worked in central London for years often finishing work in the early hours and had a journey home of more than 40 miles I had to fund my own transport home & couldn't claim for any accommodation. Why should MPs be treated any differently to other people working unsocial hours

  • Comment number 74.

    MP's are the servants of the country, you and me. In the course of my work I travel at home and abroad, my employer pays for food and accomodation, car hire and the like, against receipts. No problem, it is a correct and transparent way of doing business. Mp's should do the same, there can be no objection to that. Shady perks create distrust and it is surely in both parties interests that this should not be the case.

  • Comment number 75.

    59. At 3:51pm on 29 Mar 2010, John Hudson wrote:
    //The MP expenses row has probably cost the country half a year of MP productivity at a time when there are certainly bigger fish to fry.

    I really hope that we can close this book now.//


    But surly anything that stops MPs being 'productive' is a good thing? Its a shame we cannot stop MPs 'changing things' all the time! Just stop them from functioning for 365 days a year and the country would be fantastic!

  • Comment number 76.

    MPs should get a salary commensurate with the qualifications necessary to become a politician.

  • Comment number 77.

    Yes, these 'rules' seem acceptable except that they should have legal sanction. If we fiddle it is termed 'fraud' as it is illegal. Handing money back and claiming to have mistakenly interpreted the 'rules' won't do.

    Hang 'em high!

  • Comment number 78.

    Yes.

    I particularly approve of the the clawback on capital gains (It should be retrospective!).

    And, yes. MPs should be able to employ relatives (subject to transparency and limits over costs).

  • Comment number 79.

    So a few of the worst expense loopholes get plugged. Big deal. They are still not having to follow the rules they make for us.

    The bigger picture is systemic self aggrandisement of MPs through lobbyists, business patronage and foreign government sponsorships. Parliament is still a gravy train.

    Confidence in Parliament will only be created when MPs and Ministers are seen to be working for us instead of themselves. That means doing a days work every day, holding the public sector to account, not dreaming up more things for us to do and creating a tax system that is fair on everyone.

  • Comment number 80.

    #50 and # 57 - you're spot on!

    BTW when are the BBC going to bring back the recommendation system to HYS? This cross referencing is a farce.

  • Comment number 81.

    I hope that lot in parliament don't want a pat on the back for simply doing what is fair.

    I agree with someone who wrote that the Olympic village should be used as a place for MP's to stay when in London. It's crazing funding a second home or flat.

    The one fact that angers me more than any other is that Members want the tax payer to buy them things such as light bulbs, pillows, cushions etc. etc. In the real world even pensioners and those in poverty have to buy these out of our earnings - why shouldn't they?

    For decades we have been urged to tighten our belts and all the time MP's have been living well at our expense. Thank goodness this is coming to an end. Now, perhaps, only those with true dedication to the job will stand at elections.

    Another huge saving could be made if the number of MP's was drastically reduced. Constituancy work could be done by someone else who lives, full time in their local community and who then could report back to the relevant MP.

  • Comment number 82.

    A step in the right direction, but simply not enough. These people are paid £60,000+ per year! Surely they can afford to pay for their food! I appreciate that MPs in constituencies a long way from London need to travel/have digs in or near London as part of their Parliamentary duties. Fair enough - let them claim for the commute or the cost of a hotel room (*not* a rental accommodation), for which they must *provide receipts or bills as evidence*. By all means let them employ family members, but not at massive salaries, and subject to a six-month audit to keep the inevitable corruption window in check. Administrative stocks should be provided to all MPs' staff by a single stationery office, not claimed as expenses.

    This would effectively make MP expenses every bit as tight as those which are paid by businesses to their employees. More to the point, it'd save the taxpayer a bunch and derail the gravy train a tad.

    Oh, and more MPs should be prosecuted for downright fraud and embezzlement. Four in the dock is not enough - the whole thing has been whitewashed by Whitehall, although did we really expect different? Once proposals get committeefied and bureaucratised, they're automatically watered down and made ineffectual shells of their former selves which leave the taxpayer with a raw deal and spin.

  • Comment number 83.

    I dont know why we need so many MPs now as everything is governed by the EU parliamant. We could save an awful lot of money if we came out of it or reduced the number of MPs in total. There is a lot of duplication here I am sure. Also, re benefit scroungers - where do they all think the money comes from to pay them? If we all stopped working there would no services and no money for them. I doubt they have ever given this a thought, so MPs might like to address this as well. MPs need to seriously think about such topics and concentrate on getting our deficit down and quickly.

  • Comment number 84.

    I hope that there are clauses that stop MP's renting properties from their friends, families and each other. If there are not I fear we will just see a repeat of the past 12 months when we find that MP's have got themselves into the buy to let market.

  • Comment number 85.

    It seems there is a lot of wealth in politics. How about bringing down MPs salaries and only ensuring that they get paid when they deliver on their election pledges. This might seem "naive" in this corrupt world but unless we start somewhere there will be no checks and balances by which Mps should abide by.

  • Comment number 86.

    Very good and not before time .this hopefully will reduce the ammunition for the gutter press as they try to put people off of voting.

  • Comment number 87.

    The 50% payrise won't be long coming.
    Then they'll get their kids to buy the property and rent it from them.

    Reduce the number of MP's to 300 and keep a very close eye on them.
    Give them Publicly funded secretaries and offices and NO expenses.

  • Comment number 88.

    Don't forget it is MPs we are talking about here. This ban on second home mortgage payments looks good but I suspect that there will be hidden in the small print of any "reforms", measures to allow MPs to stick their fingers in the taxpayers' wallet and help themselves but in ways that will be much more difficult for investigative journalists to find out about.

  • Comment number 89.

    Yes, this is about right.

    The most important thing is that the rule that expenses should only be claimed when they were necessarily and wholly incurred for parliamentary duties, which was already in the old system, should be rigorously applied in future.

  • Comment number 90.

    It looks reasonable to me.

    I'm not sure there's a problem even if they do rent the 'London accomodation' from themselves or a friend. I presume it's a fixed limit based on the average cost of that type of accomodation in that area. So, if an MP takes out a mortgage that costs £5000 a month and gets £1450 of that back, how is that worse to the taxpayer than them renting a flat for £1450 a month? The problem before was that the limit was a lot higher.

    They're also stopping lots of extras that were allowed before, and making things more transparent.

    Hiring a family member also seems OK as long as sensible safeguards are in place.

    People saying that MPs should be able to cope on their salary are missing the point. MPs essentially have two places of work - their constituency and London. It would be unfair in the extreme to have an MP in London getting the same income as an MP in Newcastle while not having to travel long distances, or stay overnight away from home etc.

    No job I've ever worked in has expected me to work away from home for long periods AND pay for my own travel & hotel accommodation while away from home. Usually that is paid for by the employer, so why should that be different for MPs.


    However, I don't think MPs should be allowed to have second jobs whilst serving as MPs. The point of the high salary of £65k is precisely to prevent that need. It's the same reason that in days of yore, the monarchy's representatives needed to be independently wealthy so that they were (supposedly) not as open to corruption as someone who was poorer.

  • Comment number 91.

    This sounds like common sense at last. No public servant should expect to finance a second home on expenses, so providing a rental allowance based on a modest one bedroom flat in central London is the right solution for those who live more than a one and half hour commute from Westminster.
    Unlike many on here, I am quite relaxed about MPs emloying their wives, or other relatives, as long as the spouses do a proper job and are remunerated at a level which is appropriate for the job in question. The life of an MP is chaotic enough and if this means husbands and wives can work together, that may well be a good thing. Less opportunity for them to stray with their secretaries and researchers!

  • Comment number 92.

    A good start, but they don't go far enough: why should MPs be allowed to claim to travel to London? If I got a job in London, I wouldn't expect my employer to pay my travel expenses, I would take expenses into account when applying for the job. If somebody lives a long way from London, then fair enough let them rent a second home, but in the long term I think we should consider building a "hall of residence" for MPs who need to stay overnight.

  • Comment number 93.

    @71 : Stan Pomeray

    At last, a sane and rational comment, i.e. not just some rant from people just because MPs earn more than they do. Most of the arguments against MPs salaries and expenses is that "it's not fair, I don't earn that much, so I don't see why anyone else should earn more than me".

    Do these same people complain that a top footballer earns, say, £150,000 a week ? That makes an MPs salary look like a pittance, does it not ?

    I also feel that many comments on here are by people who have jobs that have never required them to stay away from home, because if they did they would understand that their expenses are indeed met by there employer, and not out of their own salary.

  • Comment number 94.

    A step in the right direction - but just a little step.

    The 20 miles/60 minutes rule seems a bit soft. That means MP's who live inside the M25 (like mine who lives in Ashtead)will still be able to claim the allowance. Bearing in mind about 70% of his working constituents will be travelling that distance every day I would have thought this could be extended to around 50 miles. Maybe if some of them start commuting we will get some improvements to the train services!

  • Comment number 95.

    George Osborne - Shadow Conservative Chancellor claimed, from the taxpayer, around £167000.00 in allowances (untaxed) in 2009/2010 PLUS around £65,000.00 in MP taxpayer funded salary on top?

    David Cameron - Shadow Conservative Leader claimed, from the taxpayer, around around £156000.00 in allowances (untaxed) in 2009/2010 PLUS about £65000.00 in MP taxpayer funded salary on top?

    Well, can we assume that the, two above named, AND independently wealthy MPs, from the Shadow Front Bench, will NOT have the slightest idea that they are still throwing patronising crumbs to the peasants to appease the money markets who the peasants bailed out?

    Yes, the peasants aspire to better; as do their employers, but they are NOT STUPID and can always see through the 'blue' manipulation too?

  • Comment number 96.

    Without doubt it definitely seems like an improvement. I know most of the MP's won't like it even though they'll say publicly that it's fairer.

    I don't mind them being allowed to employ one family member, though I do think those jobs should be advertised in job centres giving everyone the chance to apply. Family members aren't necessarily the best person for the job, but let's be fair, even in the commercial world father employs son who isn't always the best person.

    I'm disappointed that tax payers will still be funding the rents for private accommodation. I would have preferred to see special accommodation set aside for MP's use. The rents system is as much open to abuse as the mortgage interest system. As many of the MP's already own their second homes they'll all be renting off each other to keep the money in the family and they'll still be quids in.

    Another thing which should be a fundamental part of the changes is to warn all MP's that they'll be sacked and banned from holding office ever again if they are caught 'fiddling within the rules'.

  • Comment number 97.

    Why allow MPs to choose the property they can rent? This is still open to abuse by these corrupt lot! They'll be getting their family members and friends to rent properties to them.

    Firstly, the number of MPs on the Westminster gravy train should be halved. Then there should be apartments close to Westminster made available for them which an independent body has approved. MPs should not be allowed to pay for and then claim back any monies related to property as I have no doubt that the expenses will be fiddled.

  • Comment number 98.

    As much as I'd like to believe that this is sorted and nipped in the bud, it probably isn't. I'm sure some MPs will worm they're way around this rules, and blame them for being to easy to worm around, apologising like they had an ethical thought for the already overburdened taxpayer.

    Here's a thought:

    - Video conference the whole of parliament -

    This will enable MPs to work from home who live too far or {fill in any other political excuse here}, to not miss out on daily parliamentary activities, whilst not enraging poor Joe Pub by needlessly increasing taxes having already have to face inevitable tax rises for funding the banks (the irony!).

    The whole sector needs to be modernised and to be accessible by the public who they are supposedly representing. Since it's only the mass media who we hear all this bad news from, it's little wonder no one dares to trust a politician as much as they do a lawyer, spliced with a banker cross-bred with a criminal.

  • Comment number 99.

    "MPs will only be allowed to claim up to £1,450 a month - the equivalent of a one-bedroom flat."

    ONE BEDROOM?!! Where the hell do these people live?
    You can get a 3 bed house for less than that in some parts of London.

    The gravy train still rattles on undiminished.

  • Comment number 100.

    NO - how dim do you have to be to trust these people?

 

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