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David Goodall

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MPs Expenses

The issue of MP expenses is a difficult one because the role of an MP is largely a self defined one, but a Member of Parliament like every other worker in the country needs to be able to claim expenses from their employer to perform their job. Yet the question of what MPs should get as a wage and what should be claimed as an expense needs to be defined in a much tighter and transparent manner.

There are six main areas of costs for the taxpayer for each MP these are:-

1. Accommodation

2. Staffing

3. Offices

4. Travel

5. Communications Allowance

6. Salary of Members of Parliament

1. Accommodation

Need - Most MPs, who do not live in or near London, need to have accommodation available in London so that they can represent their constituencies in Westminster during the week, before returning to the constituency to work at the weekend. MPs that live in London likewise need to have accommodation in their constituencies.

2009 status - MPs (except those in inner London) can spend up to £24,222 to assist with their accommodation, under the heading PAAE (personal additional accommodation expenditure). Inner London MPs, and those who do not wish to receive it, can opt to spend £7,500 to assist with London living costs.

Reform Proposals

2. Staffing

Need - MPs require staff to assist in answering correspondence, taking up the concerns of constituents with Government offices and other organisations, planning meetings with the people, organisation and businesses in their community, and researching issues that MPs wish to speak on in Parliament.

2009 status - MPs are permitted staffing expenditure not exceeding £103,812 to assist them in their duties.

Reform Proposals

3. Offices

Need - In order to do the job that constituents expect their MP to do, it is important that MPs are provided with the appropriate resources to support them in that job. Often, it makes sense to establish an office in the constituency from which an MP and his or her staff can work. The House of Commons doesn't provide an office and so one has to be rented commercially. There are also associated running costs such as office expenses for computers, printers, telephones, electricity, water and lights.

2009 status - MPs can spend £22,393 to assist with these office costs under the heading of administrative and office expenditure.

Reform Proposals

4. Travel

Need - Like many in the private sector, MPs need to travel in order to do their job properly. MPs need to be able to travel to and from Westminster, to represent their constituents' interests. They also need to travel around their constituencies to be able to meet constituents who wish to raise concerns. Occasionally, it is necessary to represent those interests in Brussels. Unlike many private companies, MPs are not provided with a car. Instead, they are able to claim expenses for that travel.

2009 status - Currently, MPs can claim 40p for each mile up to 10,000 miles and 25p for each mile thereafter. Rail and air tickets can be claimed at cost.

Reform Proposals

5. Communications Allowance

Need - MPs need to spend money communicating with their constituents and informing them of their activities.

2009 status - MPs will be permitted to spend £10,400. This has been fixed for the next three years.

Reform Proposals

6. Salary of Members of Parliament

Need - Like all employees the salary of members of parliament needs to be increased from time to time. The salary of Members of Parliament was formerly determined independently by the Senior Salaries Review Board. Now it is up-rated by a Government formula, adopted by the House, in July 2008. The House of Commons is responsible for authorising all public spending and so MPs vote on their own salary and, if they choose to, could vary that formula. Most recently, the formula produced a rise of 2.33%.

2009 status - the annual salary of a Member of Parliament is £64,766.

Reform Proposals

My Personal Commitments

If I were elected to Parliament :-

1.) I would follow the expense rules as I have defined above, providing of course they are within the parliamentary expense rules.

2.) I would publish all details of my expenses on this website.

Conclusion

MPs need to have provision to meet additional costs over and above their basic salary in the areas of accommodation, office, staffing, travel and communications, but any such provision should be rigorously tested to ensure value for money and costs incurred open to all the analyse to ensure that they are.