David Cameron called for an urgent meeting with Gordon Brown to discuss MPs' expenses at the last PMQs before the Easter recess.
Gordon Brown prevaricated, suggesting that "to restore public confidence in the matter the Committee [o Standard in Public Life] will have to complete its review…"
So it seems that the Prime Minister has conducted something of a U-turn by rushing to announce a series of interim changes to MP's expenses and allowances, which he wants the Commons to vote on "as early as next week".
He announced the news by way of this Downing Street webcast, during which at times he has a bizarre grin fixed on his face, and proceeds to trip over words as he rushed to read the autocue.
The measures he is proposing are:
- The Additional Costs (ie second home) Allowance to be replaced by a daily allowance linked to attendance at the Commons;
- Ministers with grace-and-favour homes to not be able to claim the daily allowance;
- MPs living within "travelling distance" of Westminster to be given a London weighting instead of getting the daily allowance;
- MPs' staff to be direct employees of the House of Commons; and
- Full disclosure on payments to MPs from second jobs.
PoliticsHome has the full text of Harriet Harman's statement on the issue, which also includes the proposal to "increase the contribution required from MPs by around £60 per month for
the current year and to extend the scheme’s pension limit of two thirds
of final salary to all scheme members for future service".
It also states that none of this will apply to Northern Ireland MPs pending further inquiry by the Committee on Standards in Public Life. Is this related to the fact that Sinn Fein MPs not attending the Commons would therefore forfeit their ability to fund their homes in London?
I have now written this separate CentreRight post on the Northern Irish issue.
Brown said he wants to discuss these proposals with the other party leaders with the aim of reaching a consenus.
Reaction from the Conservatives will appear here when we have it. is here.