25/7/8: To read Jo’s contribution to the debate on MPs’ expenses on 16 July, please click the link at the bottom of the page
“Today MPs will vote on reports relating to salary and expenses, but a clash with the Royal visit to East Dunbartonshire today means I am not in Westminster to vote.
Nonetheless, in the spirit of transparency and openness, I want to set out my views for my constituents on how I would vote if I were there. Of course I think it is ridiculous in any case for MPs to have to vote on their own salary proposals – we are promised this is the last time, thankfully, and then it will rightly be in the hands of an independent body.
On the salary proposals, in the current climate of inflationary pressures and wage restraint I agree with the Government’s view that the recommended salary increases of about 1% per year for the next three years on top of any normal inflationary uprating should be scrapped.
On the expenses proposals, I would vote for these, but a little reluctantly. Had I been in the Chamber I would have hoped to make a contribution to the debate expressing my disappointment that MPs will still be able to make capital gain on properties paid for through the second homes allowance. Other solutions would include requiring MPs to rent instead of buy (as I do), or the taxpayer accruing the capital gain or loss on properties. The £10,000 Communications Allowance, which I oppose, sadly remains. I also think the daily subsistence allowance for being away from home is too high at £30 per day. However, while the proposals are not perfect, I warmly welcome the news that each year at least 1 in 5 MPs’ expenses will be formally audited by the National Audit Office, and that receipts will be required for everything.
Finally, I would strongly support the motion for the London addresses of MPs not to be published. I would personally feel very concerned about walking home after the regular late votes if my London address were freely available to anyone who asked for it.
The abuses of the system that have come to light over recent months are scandalous and damage the reputation of Parliament and politics in general. I do hope that the increased scrutiny and auditing will help to restore some of the lost trust.”
Jo Swinson MP