Gordon Brown has acted “decisively” on MPs expenses after months of dragging his heels and looking the other way. Next week MPs will get to vote on a new daily allowance to replace the existing ACA (additional cost allowance) of about £24,000 a year.
But guess what. No one knows yet what the new allowance will look like. (It’ll be set by the Senior Salaries Review Body). The guess is it’ll be between £140 and £170 a day. For an MP who attends a full year’s Parliamentary programme this adds up to….surprise surprise….something similar to the current regime.
Except: MPs won’t have to produce any receipts, whereas they do at the moment. Nick Clegg has decried this as “even murkier” than the current “murky” system.
Brown’s people insist that the new regime will cost the taxpayer less than this one. That’s basically because it will (rightfully) exclude MPs from Greater London. But it means that the average claimed by each MP could be the same or – given that many of them don’t take the full amount – rather higher.
The criticism is likely to centre around well-off members who have paid off the mortgage on their main home and second home but can now take £20k-plus without any questions asked.
Here is the announcement from the prime minister. As others have noticed, he appears to have had new media training; the smile is a bit more “chat show host” than usual.