Nick unveils his Plan for Reform on MPs' expenses

by Stephen Tall on April 9, 2009

Earlier today LDV reported on The Times’s splash that Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg would be proposing that MPs should be forced to sell their second homes and return most of the profits to the taxpayer. In fact, his plans for reform of MPs’ expenses is far more far-reaching than that, and are published in full over at nickclegg.com, and covered here on the BBC.

Here’s Nick’s reasoning behind his Plan for Reform:

MPs’ Expenses, My Plan for Reform – Nick Clegg, Leader of the Liberal Democrats

The ongoing controversy over the expenses system is having a hugely damaging effect on public confidence in MPs and politics. The behaviour of a small minority of politicians has played a major role in this collapse in confidence, but there has also been a collective failure to agree on a system that is seen as fair and transparent.

In recent years MPs from both the Labour and Conservative parties have voted against proposals made by the Members Estimates Committee to toughen the expenses regime, or have attempted to block Freedom of Information regulation that would see MPs’ expenses subjected to public scrutiny.

It is clear that the status quo cannot now continue. That is why we need talks between the three party leaders to create a swift resolution and introduce a set of rules that would enable MPs to do their jobs and enjoy public confidence. It is important that the system is fixed as soon as possible, rather than waiting for a committee to report in five or six months’ time.

Such a system should be based on clear principles:

* Taxpayers have a right to know how their money is being spent
* All expenses have to be justified on the basis of enabling MPs to do their job
* Reform should not increase, and should ideally reduce, the total cost of politics to the taxpayer.

Nick’s Plan for Reform has earned praise on Paul Staines’ Guido Fawkes blog (“he has come up with some good reform proposals that most voters would welcome”) and rattled ConservativeHome.com: “It is vital that the Conservative leadership do not allow Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats to lead on this issue and use it as a campaign weapon against Conservative candidates.”

What’s even more vital than tribal point-scoring is that reform happens – for the sake of all political parties and the democratic process.