Clegg on Brown's MPs' expenses reforms: "Bringing the Brussels gravy train to Westminster is not the way to fix our expenses system.”

by Stephen Tall on April 21, 2009

The Evening Standard billboards I walked past this evening proclaimed, more than a little hyperbolically, Brown axes MPs’ expenses. The truth is a little more mundane – you can read the full text of the written statement from Commons leader Harriet Harman’s statement to the Commons setting out Labour’s proposed changes to MPs’ expenses rules via the BBC HERE.

The headline-grabbing announcement is the scrapping of the second homes’ allowance, and its replacement with ‘a flat-rate daily allowance, based on actual attendance at Westminster on parliamentary and government business or the business of the Opposition frontbenches’ limited to the Parliamentary session or a maximum number of days.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg – who has already proposed a comprehensive package of reforms – is less-than-impressed with the Prime Minister’s manoeuvre:

I am looking forward to meeting Gordon Brown and David Cameron. We desperately need to sort out the lamentable system of MPs’ pay and expenses once and for all. My own proposals for the wholesale reform of the expenses system have already been published and I will be explaining my thinking behind them.

“It is hard to see how a system of daily allowances can possibly meet the demands of openness and accountability. It essentially involves handing a blank cheque to MPs simply for turning up to work in the morning. There is no requirement for the production of any receipts, making an already murky system even murkier.

“The daily allowance system is one that has been used by the European Parliament with limited success. Bringing the Brussels gravy train to Westminster is not the way to fix our expenses system.”