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Expenses overhaul

Louisa Compton | 14:46 UK time, Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Yesterday our programme came from the second home of a Labour MP, and today Gordon Brown says MPs' second homes allowances should be replaced by flat-rate daily Commons attendance expenses.

John Mann, who let us broadcast from the flat he rents in Waterloo, told us that he'd met with a senior Downing Steet official last night to discuss the issues raised by our programme and that "a few hours later the precise things that I have been calling for" was announced by Gordon Brown. He told us he felt our programme had an influence on today's announcement.

Listen to the interview with Victoria below

A Downing Street spokesperson told us:

"John Mann did raise concerns of 5 live listeners with a Downing Street official and they reflected the widespread public concern on this issue.

"The PM has been making clear for many months that he wants MPs' allowances to be more transparent, so people can have confidence in the system. Today's announcement had been planned for some time and the proposals were announced as soon as they were finalised and agreed in Cabinet."


  • 1. At 3:09pm on 21 Apr 2009, Richard_SM wrote:

    Expenses over all. Yes, indeed!

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  • 2. At 6:10pm on 21 Apr 2009, carrie wrote:

    A good thing to raise the issue on the programme although we now know Mann was already campaigning about it and it would be naive to think that Gordon didn't know that, and also that he was already formulating his ideas for change to announce in a few weeks to time.

    Fact is, he was rushed in to the opposite of what he said he was going to do (wait for the review to be completed) because of panic over the weekend polls and feeling that this would be publicly popular.

    Yes popular, but so badly thought out. And when we all work out it is going to cost the UK taxpayer even more over all, maybe not such a good idea. Doh!

    Congratulations on being a teensy bit manipulated, Five Live.

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  • 3. At 6:17pm on 21 Apr 2009, Squonk wrote:

    Don't celebrate too much just yet .
    It seems to me this is the classic MPs answer to everything, some are abusing the system theres no enthusiasm to stop them but we have to look as though we want to stop them so change it so even the ones that don't claim second home allowance will get the day rate for going to work ( call me stupid if you want but i thought thats what salary was for ) so now it seems that on top of £63k salary they are to possibly over £600 a week just for turning up at Parliament.Look at McNultys answer when he was caught with his nose in the trough increase every MPs wage to £100k plus.
    It will see the same thing that happens in Brussels MPs turning up signing in getting their daily allowance then leaving .
    This system will cost even more to my mind and will still be open to abuse and will be less accountable because the reciepts that they are all seemingly running scared of wont be there for us to scrutenise.
    The system of allowances DOES need overhauling but not in this way.
    Stop the scandalous stuff they can claim for.I f they want to buy a second home let them just debar Mortgage Payments as a claim item, if they want Sky tv let them just dont let them claim for it and so on.
    The revelation that a MP that cycles to work can claim 20p a mile that came out on your show yesterday shows the current system up for the tawdry money grabbing system it is, just pare down drastically what they can actually claim for for me it would be for rent only everything else they see to out of their Salary just like everyone else does.

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  • 4. At 8:54pm on 21 Apr 2009, nepheliad wrote:

    Had to laugh at yesterday's program.
    A concerned citizen stating that there was no honour in the commons.
    And someone else arguing that the majority of MPs cared deeply about doing their best for the country.

    It occured, that given parliament is ruled by a majority vote, we really oughtn't then to be in this position concerning these outrageous expense claims. What, with so many concerned members strewn about the place...either that or "someone" has been misled.

    So today the PM declares that he'll take action to resolve the matter of the 12.5% (average £17k) of the total (average £144k) expense claim. Well, it's good publicity to be seen to be doing something!

    The process...
    My guess is first they'll decide what they think the public will stomach. Then set some kind of allowance that may very well exceed the current "allocation". In that case the argument will likely be that the income is now taxable, so the real damage to Joe Public is less.

    The expectation would be that the whole tardy affair will be seen as having been dealt with. But what will have actually happened is that a grossly unreasonable expense has been transferred to the pay packet...and the property empire building may continue.

    This might be termed "stealth pay", in the same way that many of our taxes have been so called.

    The balance of the argument is thus heavily loaded in favour of "concerned citizen" (probably her name was Sue from memory).

    And another thing which didn't make me laugh 'coz I'm tired of hearing it is that "no-one broke the rules".
    Back in the real world where I work and play, we have rules (that we didn't decide), over the amounts of expenses we can claim. I take that to mean that it is not my duty to maximise my claim whenever I am out and about, but that I should simply take care not to exceed the limits.

    However, I am a person who genuinely does care about the welfare of my employer (since my livelihood depends on it), so I have never come even a teensy bit close to those limits. I think that's how it should be amongst our caring politicians too!

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  • 5. At 09:10am on 22 Apr 2009, beardedshrimper wrote:

    To me, the problem is that Gordon Brown wants to tackle this problem, and the response has been derision, not an attempt to have a debate about what the alternatives are.
    If people have something constructive to say, let's hear it. Otherwise, please lets not have people resort to name-calling because they have no better ideas

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  • 6. At 09:28am on 22 Apr 2009, carrie wrote:

    beardedshrimper, did you actually see the announcement broadcast? Set aside the fact that a video from the boss is hardly the way to announce something that was thought up and then sketched out on the back of an envelope, instead of in Parliament, the man looked quite deranged. Fidgetting and grinning, no grimacing. It was a hoot and a scream, not a serious announcement.

    What he should have done is wait for the review to finish, read the report, debate it in the House, and then maybe we could have taken it seriously.

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  • 7. At 8:42pm on 22 Apr 2009, nepheliad wrote:

    Probably the right thing to do would be to wait for the independent enquiry. Problem with that is the enquirer would likely draw a thick, red line through the allowance and replace it with something entirely sensible, perhaps a block of flats...wait, there's a security risk... taxpayer owned housing then.
    So to do nothing isn't an option, it lightens the purse.
    But to take action immediately to restore "public confidence" in the system is a nice, catchy posture to present.

    And never mind; the majority won't see that the emperor has no clothes!

    This will all inevitably cost us more money.
    If this be error, and upon me proved
    I never writ.....

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