MPs To Get Expenses After Leaving Parliament

(Telegraph) – MPS WHO LEAVE PARLIAMENT at the forthcoming election are to be allowed to continue claiming expenses for several months after polling day, following a controversial decision by the Parliamentary authorities.

MPs will be allowed to submit “advance” bills for utilities. Those who have signed rental agreements or other contracts stretching beyond the election will also have their claims paid.

The controversial decision, made at a meeting chaired by the Speaker last week, is expected to leave taxpayers with a bill running into tens of thousands of pounds.

It is the latest evidence that MPs have failed to properly clean-up the expenses system despite the public furore in the wake of the disclosures made by The Daily Telegraph last year.

Last night, Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said:

“It seems the Commons are living in a world of their own. The fundamental principle of expenses should be that only costs that have genuinely been incurred should be reimbursed. This proposal opens the door yet again to potential abuse for those MPs who are retiring or set to lose their seats. The authorities are effectively offering to sign a blank cheque.”

MPs leaving Parliament receive generous “resettlement grants” – worth up to a year’s salary plus money to pay-off staff and other office costs. This money is intended to help MPs meet the costs associated with returning to “normal life” so it is not clear why they have also been given permission to continue claiming expenses.

During the expenses scandal, several MPs including Alistair Darling, the chancellor, had to repay money after submitting advance invoices and then “flipping” their designated second home.

The decision to allow the claims was taken at a meeting of the House of Commons Commission held last week.

The minutes of the meeting record: “…where unavoidable legal and contractual obligations existed (including for a period beyond the election), these would exceptionally be met, and that utility bills, even if covering an advance period, would be paid so long as the bill was dated before the election.”

The House of Commons Commission is chaired by John Bercow who was elected as Speaker last year with a pledge to clean up the expenses system. Other members include Harriet Harman, the leader of the house, and Sir George Young, the shadow leader.

Sir George was previously the head of the Standards Committee which was responsible for overseeing the conduct of MPs.

Yesterday, David Cameron, the Conservative leader, reiterated his pledge to clean up the expenses system.

“We are saying ‘no more paying for food’, ‘no more paying for furniture’, ‘none of the rubbish’…every single thing must be transparent,” he said.

“If they break the rules they will be turfed out of Parliament by their constituents.”

However, Sir George appears to have defied his party leader by regularly claiming the Parliamentary “subsistence” allowance, intended to cover food bills, which is worth up to £25 a night.

The claims are likely to prove embarrassing to Mr Cameron as Sir George is in charge of the Conservative’s policy on expenses. His predecessor, Alan Duncan, was demoted after being secretly recorded complaining that MPs were “forced to live on rations”.

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2 Responses

  1. They have got to be joking!!
    When our MP goes in May he will be taking enough of our money via expenses especially the legal fees that he will not talk about.

    • The old guard are still there, Jim.

      All eyes will be on Buckingham, Bercow’s seat, during the election.

      Normally the speaker is un-opposed; but it will be different this year.

      We need to be rid of him, Harman and Young (to name just a few)..

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