It’s been through more changes than a Lady Gaga set, or so it seems. But the reform of the MPs’ allowance system has now reached an end.
The biggest news from this morning’s press conference:
MPs will be allowed to employ their spouses – after earlier indications that this would be banned. You may remember that it was the Derek Conway scandal (his son wasn’t working desperately hard in the Commons) that sparked the entire expenses furore.
However, MP’s will be restricted to hiring only one significant other, or “connected party” (whether sibling, daughter, son, wife, girlfriend, husband, boyfriend, mistress, etc).
This is despite 59 per cent of respondents wanting the practice banned – and only 22 per cent putting the opposite view. Sir Ian responded by saying that his committee’s job was to “weigh up” the counter-arguments rather than simply instate the public view.
Why the fudged compromise? The best question of the day goes to Rosa Prince at the Telegraph, who asked why – if it was okay to hire one family member – it wasn’t okay to hire several.
I’m not sure Sir Ian answered it properly.
Other news from this morning:
* MPs will have to quit their second homes within two years and rent instead. This is quicker than Sir Ian’s original recommendation that they would not have to switch for five years.
* IPSA still hasn’t worked out how to claw back any capital gains made by MPs between now and 2012, the point where they will have to exit their owned second homes.
* MPs will be restrained to one-bed rented second homes.
* No more golden goodbyes: instead only a “winding-up cost” equivalent to two months’ pay.
* Cleaning and gardening no longer eligible for MPs expenses.
* Additional support for MPs who have children under five, are single parents, or have children getting additional support from the state.