Wales politics

Replace MPs' expenses with allowance, says MP Paul Flynn

Labour Newport West MP Paul Flynn

MPs should be given an allowance instead of having to claim for expenses, Labour's shadow Commons leader has said.

Paul Flynn said the watchdog set up after the expenses scandal had failed to restore public confidence.

But the Newport West MP said his views were being used as a "stunt" in the ongoing row within Labour.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) said it was currently consulting on the rules.

Labour distanced the party from Mr Flynn's comments, emphasising they were not Labour policy.

In a blog post, the shadow Welsh secretary described Ipsa as a "bureaucratic ornament" which he said had taken "minute control of claims large and small".

'Tedious bureaucracy'

He said it had failed to restore faith in the expenses system, which was time-consuming and robbed MPs and their staff of their "most precious possession - time".

He wrote: "Our reputation has sunk from rock bottom to subterranean. Financial scandals have continued in both Houses with toe-curling regularity.

"The public are still convinced that MPs use the system for own ends."

Mr Flynn suggested a new system could be based on an allowance calculated on average expenses, based on MPs' distance from Westminster, and could be paid automatically.

He claimed MPs would accept such a change, even if it meant they were worse off, because they would be liberated from the "tentacles of tedious bureaucracy".

Speaking on BBC Radio's Good Morning Wales programme, Mr Flynn suggested that he originally outlined his views in a document written nine months ago "as a backbencher".

He told the programme: "Jeremy Corbyn knows nothing at all about it and this is now being used as a stunt by people in this mad battle we have in our own party where we are tearing ourselves apart.

"This is nothing to do with expenses, except that Ipsa is being looked at at the moment and we've been asked for ideas. I've put forward ideas that I published nine months ago."

Image caption David Hanson said the public expects MPs to be accountable and transparent on the money they spend

Delyn Labour MP David Hanson said Mr Flynn's suggestions were "wrong".

"The public expect us to have accountability and transparency on the money that we spend on behalf of them to provide constituency staff, constituency offices and the services that we provide," he said.

"I have no problem whatsoever as a member of parliament with my staff in completing Ipsa's requirements and filling in forms to account for that money."

A spokesman for the Labour party said: "The public rightly demands the trust of their politicians and Labour therefore remains committed to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority which Labour established to ensure MPs do not set their own pay and conditions."

An Ipsa spokesman said: "Ipsa is currently consulting on rules for MPs six years after they were introduced and is seeking views from members of parliament and members of the public."

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