Jo welcomes Lib Dem commitment on MP expenses

Westminster Clock Tower Big Ben / Houses of Parliament [Photo: Emma Cooley]

MPs were criticised for rejecting proposals for reform of their pay and expenses

Jo Swinson has welcomed the announcement by Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg that his party is to unilaterally introduce many of the expenses proposals that were rejected last week by MPs at Westminster.

The proposals, which were defeated in a series of Commons votes last week, include independent spot checks of MPs’ expenses. Proposals to retain the old system of allowances, subjected only to internal audits, were upheld by 172 votes to 144. The 35 Lib Dem MPs present all voted to introduce external auditing of MPs.

Jo said:

“Welcoming Her Majesty The Queen to Milngavie kept me away from the Westminster votes on expenses, but I was appalled watching the result of votes, as MPs yet again chose secrecy and cynicism above transparency and accountability.

“I am pleased to see my fellow Lib Dem MPs setting an example and showing that they have nothing to fear from open, independent scrutiny of their expenses. After Derek Conway and other recent scandals, we cannot expect to restore public trust in MPs’ finances if external auditing of MPs accounts is rejected.

“I hope that the Labour and Conservative leaderships will follow Nick Clegg’s lead in implementing these measures, and we can begin to restore public confidence in politics.”

Steps being taken by the Lib Dems include:

• Working with the Institute of Chartered Accountants to draw up detailed proposals to implement spot checks of expenses for Liberal Democrat MPs. The Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, Paul Burstow, will be meeting with the Institute of Chartered Accountants shortly to discuss these issues.

• Establishing an independently chaired Audit Board for the Party to oversee issues of probity and integrity.

• Publishing a detailed breakdown of expenses of all Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet members.

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