MPs to lose expenses perks

A DRASTIC overhaul of MPs' expenses in the wake of public anger at how they claim for tens of thousands of pounds for second homes, bath plus, and flat screen plasma televisions is set to be introduced next week.

Graham Dines

A DRASTIC overhaul of MP's expenses has been backed by Ipswich MP Chris Mole who today said it was needed to “once and for all put the public's mind at rest.”

Labour MP Mr Mole spoke out the day after Prime Minister Gordon Brown decided to act in the wake of growing public anger following revelations that MPs claim tens of thousands of pounds for second homes with the taxpayer picking up the bill.

Under his proposals the second homes allowance would be replaced by a flat-rate daily allowance, based on actual attendance at Westminster.

There would be no claims for food, furniture and fittings, fuel, mortgage interest, rent or council tax.

MPs living within reasonable distance of London would be given the inner London supplement which already applies to those living in the capital.

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Mr Mole said: “I think it is a sensible way to address the concerns that have existed about the current claims system in order to hopefully, once and for all, put the public's mind at rest by having a system which is clear, transparent and straightforward.

“Clearly within the current system there has been an enormous number of issues raised and this new approach of a daily flat allowance could well overcome that because there won't be any questions about what happened with that allowance. The proposal is clear and straightforward.”

Mr Mole said he had a small flat about 15 minutes away from Westminster where he slept after being at the House of Commons until late at night.

He added he felt it was “impractical” to commute daily from Ipswich because sometimes parliamentary business did not finish until after 10.30pm.

He said: “It would be a terrible waste of time to try to do that and be back in the morning for select committees and other things which start very early.

“I think it (the flat) is a necessary part of the job and in no way regarded as a perk or benefit.

“In fact it is a nuisance to have to maintain another property.

“If the House of Commons only sat for eight hours a day it would be different.”

Mr Brown will meet with Tory leader David Cameron and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg next week to talk about the plans in the hope they will not be opposed in the commons.

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