Shock Brown move on MPs’ expenses may halt the gravy trains

In a neat and radical pre-Budget diversion, Gordon Brown ( through Commons leader Harriet Harman) has announced his own swingeing interim reforms for MPs’ allowances. There’ll be rows over the proposed replacement for a second homes allowance, a flat rate daily attendance allowance. But the main longer term issue is the basic salary level which is too low and which rising expenses were designed to redress before they ran out of control.

Two big time bombs for Northern Ireland. One “ We will ask the Committee on Standards in Public Life to look at the circumstances applying in Northern Ireland before final application of the flat rate allowance for MPs representing Northern Ireland. As the flat rate allowances will be “based on actual attendance at Westminster on parliamentary and government business or the business of the Opposition frontbenches,” this means an end to Sinn Fein allowances if it means anything. Or can they squeeze through by claiming they do “parliamentary business” without actually attending Parliament? If not, this would be the first reverse they‘ve suffered at Westminster since 2001.

The other bombshell relates to staffing and should hit the local political dynasties .

MPs’ Staff. In future all staff appointed by MPs without exception should become direct employees of the House of Commons, which would become centrally responsible for their employment terms and conditions, their contracts, and the payment of their salaries within the limit allowed – and will have the right to make an independent assessment of such contracts. The Committee on Standards in Public Life is examining the rules governing employment of spouses or other relatives.

Again if this means anything it should mean a degree of open competition for MPs’ support jobs, thus undermining jobs for the kids. The absence of job interviews for NI Assembly jobs is a scandal, violating the whole spirit of Fair Employment. It should be brought into line with the rest of the public sector. Next week’s Commons vote and speeches on the new clampdown should be fascinating, I can’t wait to hear what the First Minister will say.

  • Paul

    It will hit dupers just as hard, they may “take” their seats but how often do they actually attend

  • fin

    well voting for the popular 42 days detention, and a third runway at Heathrow are two recent visits, so be grateful they’re not too regular attendees

  • “But the main longer term issue is the basic salary level which is too low ”

    Brian,

    I simply do not understand why you and members of the Westminister parliamentary lobby keep saying this as it is obviouse you are simply repeating the words of greedy MPs. I heard the BBC’s JP say this on Radio 5 yesterday.

    We supposedly live in a representative democracy, what this means is MPs should live similar live styles to the majority. The current salary places them in the top bracket of earners. Thus any rise will further corrupt the worth of the system in the eyes of the general public.

    The best thing that could happen to the UK media would be for all the members of the lobby to be sent into the country for a year to work as regional correspondent. As they clearly have no idea just how despised our Westminster politicians are; and the journalists who cover parliament etc have become without a doubt part of the problem.

    To put it bluntly most people who live in the UK would not piss on them and those they write about if they were on fire.

  • fin

    So how much would they have to be paid to not accept directorships from companies who lobby for govt contracts or changes to legisation.

    Alternatively we can take the view MPs took regarding Firemen (persons) if they don’t want to do the job for the money on offer there are a hell of a lot of people who will.

  • The Raven

    I see a little spat kicking off here.

    Conor says “”We are determined that none of the democratic entitlements of our electorate are in any way diminished.”

    Except, a churlish few might argue, a voice in Parliament.

    I’m away to get me tongue removed from me cheek. 🙂

  • Silverline

    MPs allowances for Sinn Fein were if I remember correctly were agreed when the UUP were the largest Unionist party and were a consession during the Belfast Agreement.

  • Silverline

    MPs allowances for Sinn Fein were if I remember correctly were agreed when the UUP were the largest Unionist party and were a consession during the Belfast Agreement.

  • The Raven

    ….and so?

  • Comrade Stalin

    He’s right, sadly. The expenses was a major issue for Sinn Fein and this was one of several concessions the British provided to assist the process.

  • Modernist

    British establishment yet again trying to subvert democracy while the fans and supporters of”Swish Family Robinson” and co. try on their usual distraction tactics