Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Kelly adopts Holyrood system for MPs expenses

Details of the Kelly report on Westminster expenses reforms leaked late last night. The main proposal is an end to mortgage interest payments for second homes in line with the expenses reforms at the Scottish parliament.

Also a ban on employing family members which, I understand, is more draconian than Holyrood where the family relationship just has to be declared in the register (MSPs correct me if I am wrong please?)

The changes are to be phased in over five years to head off a so-called "wives revolt" by 200 MPs who employ their partners or family members.

Fortunately I was still hanging around at a Whitehall reception when the call came through so was able to catch the first edition of the Herald with the story.

I also did a bit for
Newsnight Scotland , which was fine except that they spelled my name incorrectly on the tum-tab. But at least I realised how much I need a haircut.

Actually quite a lot of stories moved late last night. John Reid MP, the former Defence secretary was on his way out of the Milbank studios when I was on the way in. He'd just succeeded in persuading Gordon Brown to reverse the £20m cuts in TA training which is good news for the territorials and good news for David Cameron who has been given a gift for Prime Minister's Questions today.

With the prospect of "El Presidente" Blair having dominated the Westminster day it also emerged late that Gordon Brown will be openly canvassing for Mr Blair at this week's EU leaders summit. More on that today, I suspect, and expenses and the report on the Nimrod crash in Afghanistan.

This from this morning's Herald:

The Scottish parliamentary rules on allowances on accommodation for politicians are to be adopted by Westminster, according to the leaked details of the Kelly report on MPs’ expenses reform.

Like MSPs who have to stay in Edinburgh overnight politicians at Westminster could in future be banned from claiming for the mortgage interest payments for London homes, according to recommendations leaked last night.

Sir Christopher Kelly, the chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, will propose that MPs should in future have to rent if they require a second home. The move is aimed at stemming public anger that MPs might make a profit during their parliamentary career from rising house prices in the capital at the expense of the tax payer.

According to the report, Sir Christopher will also suggest a reduction in the number of MPs who are eligible to claim the second homes allowance.

Currently, only central London MPs are excluded from claiming for a second home, but under the proposals any MP with a constituency in "reasonable commuting distance" of Westminster will have to meet their own accommodation costs.

The recommendations on accommodation will affect all Scottish MPs who spend up to four nights a week at Westminster before travelling back to their constituencies at the weekend.

Following the retrospective judgements of Sir Thomas Legg on MPs expenses going back five years some politicians feared the Kelly report might take a draconian approach and recommend repayment of any capital gains already made on flats bought under the existing system of allowances. If that does not form part of the recommendations it is expected that most MPs will accept the changes as part of the reform package.

Last week Gordon Brown said that whatever the recommendations the reforms should not act as a disincentive to people considering entering parliament.

As has previously been reported, the Kelly report will also recommend a ban on MPs employing members of their families paid for out of public funds. As with accommodation allowances the change is expected to be phased in over five years in an attempt to head of a "wives revolt" by the 200 MPs who currently employ family members as parliamentary staff.

1 comment:

  1. Torcuil, all Mr Kelly needed to do was photocopy and large company expense policy. The answer was always going to be simple, just MP's had no desire to change a rotten process. There are still issues out there on MP's expenses not being asked or answered
    Who deducted PAYE from cleaners as required by inland revenue? If PAYE not deducted or paid then legal issue. Who were these cleaners anyway? If no tax deducted were MP's assisting the black economy by paying in cash?