Clegg – urgent leaders meeting needed NOW to overhaul MPs’ expenses

by Stephen Tall on March 30, 2009

As the furore over MPs’ expenses grows, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has written to Gordon Brown and David Cameron proposing they meet as soon as possible to work through how to reform, and restore trust in, the political system. Here’s the full text of Nick’s letter:

I am writing to you to propose that our parties work together to agree an urgent overhaul of MPs’ expenses. The recent scandals make it clear we cannot continue with the current system any longer.

The upcoming inquiry by the Committee on Standards in Public Life will not report this side of a general election. This is far too long to wait. We owe it to the citizens of this country to ensure a fair deal for taxpayers before then.

The move to a principles-based expenses system is welcome but I believe several further reforms are needed to rebuild public confidence. Two in particular would be achievable immediately. First, in the name of transparency, every penny of public money claimed by MPs should only be reimbursed on production of a receipt: taxpayers have the right to know how their money is being spent. Second, the present rules on second homes are incomprehensible to millions of people who have to commute each day: no London MP should be able to claim for a second home.

I know that, by tradition and convention, these matters are dealt with by the House independently of party leaders. I believe passionately in the rights of the Commons, but our fellow citizens’ faith in politics is more important still. For the sake of restoring trust, we need to show political leadership, and act as party leaders to clean up the expenses regime once and for all. This is not a matter for party political point scoring: we must act together or all politicians will find themselves condemned by public opinion.

I therefore propose that we meet at your earliest convenience to agree a way forward. I have laid out my proposals, but I would of course welcome your ideas of other ways in which we can improve the system. I look forward to hearing from you.

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It’s no surprise to see Clegg pushing for this meeting given that lib dems claim the highest expenses:

by Alex Agius on March 31, 2009 at 12:22 am. Reply #

Er… doesn’t that make it an even better thing that he’s doing it?

by Alix on March 31, 2009 at 9:00 am. Reply #

Except Alex if you exclude travel costs, the figures aren’t quite what they seem.

I know Tories think that their MPS walk on water, but I don’t believe Alistair Carmichael, does – yet (to take an example).

by Nick on March 31, 2009 at 12:23 pm. Reply #

Hm, good point. There must be a way of weighting the average for distances travelled. We have a disproportionate number of Scottish and south-western MPs, do we not?

by Alix on March 31, 2009 at 1:47 pm. Reply #

But he is actually proposing is very limited. The second homes for London MPs is really a very minor point and requiring all claims to be backed up by receipts is meaningless without any restrictions on what can be claimed for.

If Nick believes that “in the name of transparency, every penny of public money claimed by MPs should only be reimbursed on production of a receipt” then (like Gordon Brown) he didn’t vote on the matter when it was before Parliament.

Why don’t we come our clearly and say:
1) Three line whip on Lib Dem MPs on future HoC debates on allowances (had all our MPs turned up on the last vote the recommendations of the Members Expenditure committee would have gone through)

2) An end to the allowance of £400 a week for MPs to buy food

3) A significant reduction in the level of ACA. Many people manage to run a house on much less than the £20k+ MPs allow themselves.

by Hywel on March 31, 2009 at 1:56 pm. Reply #

Errm £400 a month!

by Hywel on March 31, 2009 at 11:56 pm. Reply #

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