Voters want expenses reform

Wednesday, 10 June, 2009

David Ruffley, the MP for Bury St Edmunds, conducted an internet survey via his website asking what voters considered would be fair compensation for having to live in London during the week and in the constituency at the weekend.

He received 128 submissions to the specific questions which Sir Christopher Kelly, chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, has to answer as he prepares a report on the overhaul of how MPs are compensated for having two homes.

Mr Ruffley, who was exposed by The Daily Telegraph expenses investigation after trying to claim on the second homes fund an expensive state-of-the-art television from Harrods and bedroom furniture for his cottage near Bury St Edmunds, said nearly three-quarters of those responded wanted the second home allowance to be completely scrapped and that MPs should not be given any public money for a second home.

More than 60% supported the proposition that parliamentary authorities should build a block of flats for MPs in London

In answer to the question 'should MPs be allowed to claim for basic maintenance of their second home,' 75.9% said no and only 24% supported the idea and 68% rejected any increase in MPs' salaries to compensate for housing.

Surprisingly, Prime Minister Gordon Brown's original idea for a per diem payment based on their attendance in the Commons - the system which boosts Euro MPs' pay - was supported by just under half of responders.

Mr Ruffley said: 'This is a clear message from my constituents that they want the system of expenses and allowances totally overhauled.

'I fully acknowledge that the survey cannot be treated as scientific, but it is at least some evidence from those members of the public who have been good enough to respond to my online questionnaire.

'It is clear that urgent action is required and must be delivered. I look forward to the rapid conclusion of the review so that a new, robust system can be put in place as soon as possible.'