Kelly report must be honoured - MPs

Wednesday, 4 November, 2009

EAST Anglia MPs have called on all members of the House of Commons to accept Sir Christopher Kelly's proposed clamp down on perks and allowances to enable politics to move on from the expenses scandal.

The MPs accept that public outrage over claims for moats, duck houses, and mole killing have brought parliament's reputation to its knees.

Party leaders accepted the Kelly report, which recommends that MPs should no longer be able to claim for their mortgages, employ family members at the taxpayer's expense, or claim cash for maintaining a second home.

'The damage that has been done by what has been revealed about past malpractice and about the culture that goes with it has been very considerable,' said Sir Christopher. A key recommendation is to establish an Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) with the power to determine the pay and pensions of MPs as well as their expenses.

West Suffolk Conservative MP Richard Spring said the report should be accepted in its entirety. 'The essence is that mortgage flipping, purchasing goods and chattels, and employing members of your family as staff must end.

'Kelly is ironing out the issues which the public clearly sees as an abuse of the system. He has been fair in saying that all these changes should be transitional - many of the changes such as a 'golden goodbye' will not apply until the end of the next parliament.'

Bury St Edmunds Tory David Ruffley welcomed the proposals '100%' and insisted they should be accepted in full by every MP.

'I can find nothing in Sir Christopher's report that will discourage people of limited financial means from seeking to be an MP. The current salary is considerably higher than the average national wage and is more than reasonable to sustain a parliamentary career.'

Junior transport minister Chris Mole (Labour, Ipswich) said he wanted the IPSA to put Kelly's measures into practice as soon as readily possible.

'Parliament voted for Kelly to advise IPSA on future arrangements and this must now happen. The Government is committed to securing public closure on this issue, and I look forward to all MPs being able to focus on their primary purpose of serving the public.'

The changes may disadvantage Colchester's Liberal Democrat MP Bob Russell, who said: 'I regularly work a 17 hour day starting at 6am and restricting on second homes in the capital to MPs who live further than an hour's commute from parliament would obviously affect me.

'I share a house with another Liberal Democrat MP - Mike Hancock (Portsmouth South) - and our combined claim is less than £6,000 a year. If we were forced to switch to hotels, we would be allowed £12,000 a year each - that's four times our current cost.'