Expenses reform: Clegg pushes ahead despite Labour and Conservative opposition

Press release just out:

Liberal Democrat Leader, Nick Clegg, has today committed to unilaterally introduce the recommendations of the Members Estimates Committee for independent spot checks of MPs expenses.

Despite Labour and Conservative MPs defeating the MEC’s recommendations on Thursday, the Liberal Democrats will go ahead with implementing those that are relevant in order to further improve accountability.

Nick Clegg said:

“The Liberal Democrats will now implement as many of the recommendations as we can to tighten up the rules on MPs expenses – particularly those relating to spot checks of MPs expense claims.

“My Shadow Cabinet will shortly be publishing quarterly breakdowns of their expenses and I expect this to be the first of several measures to greatly improve how we account for ourselves.

“I hope that Gordon Brown and David Cameron will join me in implementing these measures so that together we can begin to restore public confidence in politicians after what has been a very damaging week.”

The steps will include:

  • Working with the Institute of Chartered Accountants to draw up detailed proposals to implement spot checks of expenses for Liberal Democrat MPs. The Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, Paul Burstow, will be meeting with the Institute of Chartered Accountants shortly to discuss these issues.
  • Establishing an independently chaired Audit Board for the Party to oversee issues of probity and integrity.
  • Publishing a detailed breakdown of expenses of all Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet members. 
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5 Comments

  • Andrew Duffield 4th Jul '08 - 9:09pm

    Good show Nick – although full and transparent accountability over the John Lewis list is mere chicken feed compared to the main Westminster snout scam.

    The question remains, will Lib Dem MPs also commit to repaying 100% of the unearned gain from any property they have purchased using public monies?
    (18% capital gains tax just ain’t good enough I’m afraid).

    That is the real test of our MPs integrity – as well as being a genuinely principled and distinctive benchmark for the other parties to match.

    Will our honourable members be honourable enough to trot that extra mile?

  • I still don’t quite understand why – if this is such a burning issue – 20 Lib Dem front-benchers, including Clegg himself, didn’t bother to vote on this.

  • THE ESSEX BOYS 5th Jul '08 - 8:10am

    Well said Andrew & Anonymous. The capital gains aspect sticks in the public’s craw. Nobody objects to direct business expenses being repaid given proper paperwork but if an MP chooses to buy a property in London he should be able to claim only the equivalent of modest B&B accom and only for the nights he has to sleep there for business reasons. Mortgages and furnishing are his responsibility and any capital gain is his therefore.
    We also want to know the full perameters on overseas jaunts. Tele-conferencing and internet research can achieve most objectives and if a trip is necessary why not 2 members reporting back to the rest of the would-be hangers-on?
    Also we want a spec on how many days an MP is required to be in Westminster and his constituency and a published summary when he is elsewhere.
    We also must know the detail of other business interests of which there should be a defined limit and we want a total ban on taking positions for 5 years after leaving Parliament with any potential lobby group or beneficiary company. Autobiographies should have a similar time scale.
    We don’t object to a higher salary for MPs – £75000 is not unreasonable – but they must conform to the rest of the package simultaneously and stop running their constituencies as though they were ‘family business bases’ for outside interests.
    WE happen to have an excellent MP totally alien to the description above but he is in a minority in our view.
    C’mon the rest of you or we shall rise and unseat you. You are OUR employees and please don’t forget it!

  • An observation –

    We keep being told that MPs need a home in the constituency and a London home.

    The (late) MP for Crewe & Nantwich had her constituency home repossessed many years ago. She subsequently lived her life solely from her London flat, with no constituency home. When she came down to “do her surgeries” she stayed in a hotel (or possibly with friends on occasion).

    When she died she was lauded as a fine constituency MP.

    So do MPs REALLY need two homes ???

  • Good that LibDems are going for accountability, but, as another commenter questioned, since MPs’ expenses is such a burning issue why did not all LibDems vote on it? Either way, I won’t be voting for a LibDem candidate in a general election since they abstained from voting for an EU Referendum, despite it being in their manifesto. Neither will I be voting Conservative as my local MP – who I normally vote for – abstained on the expenses vote. Possibly ‘None of the above’?

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