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

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.”

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4 Comments

  • For once, I don’t understand Clegg’s problem wit this proposal by Brown.

    “It essentially involves handing a blank cheque to MPs simply for turning up to work in the morning.”

    How is that any different from just about any other job?

  • “Bringing the Brussels gravy train to Westminster is not the way to fix our expenses system.”

    That has to be the best Clegg soundbite I have heard on the news in a long while!

  • Dual Citizen 21st Apr '09 - 11:41pm

    @Alex
    “How is that any different from just about any other job?”

    Er, because that’s called salary, and they get 63k of that already.

    Brown’s suggestion does nothing more than sweep the problem under the carpet. Jacqui Smith could still claim (let’s say) 20k for slummin’ with sis, and Balls/Cooper and the Wintertons would get 40k between them. No transparency; pathetic.

    Though I’m a Tory supporter, I’m with Clegg on this one; rentals only for those who need it, fully receipted. And only for a home either inside the constituency or in Central London. That said, the “sell your home and pay back the profits” part would probably open up a can of worms and not be workable.

    But I’d shorten the time for “selling up”, or making other arrangements to 2 years or maybe less.

  • Mike Falchikov 22nd Apr '09 - 12:44pm

    The daily allowance proposal is both wide open to abuse and is of little help in meeting genuine expenses from MPs who live and have constituencies far from London.
    What a strange mentality Brown has in
    appearing to believe that everything meaningful goes on solely inside the Palace of Westminster.

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