Session 2008-09, 12 May 2009
Committee's consideration of Members' allowances
The House of Commons Committee on Members Allowances (MAC) met this evening (Tuesday 12 May) to consider a request from the Leader of the House to consider three specific issues and agreed:
- A proposal for a system for re-assessing payments made for the second home allowance. The Committee agreed that this will involve a team to reassess payments and identify those which did not conform to both the rules and the purpose for which the allowance existed, and which ought to be repaid. The team will be managed from outside the House of Commons Service by a person appointed after consultation with the Comptroller and Auditor General. This process will start with payments made in 2008-09, and work back over the previous four years. The Committee will also write to all MPs asking them to re-examine their own claims. This may lead to MPs being asked to repay monies received.
- New guidance on second homes. MPs would no longer be able to nominate their second home. Instead, they would be able to propose their second home designation: this would be subject to a range of criteria which would have to be met before the proposed designation is accepted. MPs would not be able to change this designation during the lifetime of a Parliament unless their personal circumstances changed significantly. An MP would have to confirm that the designated second home is the second home in all circumstances for claims and for Capital Gains Tax purposes.
- A proposal for an immediate restriction on the list of items claimable under the second home allowance (PAAE) until Sir Chistopher Kelly's Committee on Standards in Public Life reports later in the year. This will include, for example, furnishings, white goods and fixtures and fittings. The Committee will meet again tomorrow (Wednesday) to consider whether or not the amount of money claimable as mortgage interest should be capped. Officials have been asked to provide a paper on how such a scheme could operate.
Committee Chairman Don Touhig said:
"The Committee has responded quickly to the letter from the Leader of the House and I would like to thank all my colleagues and staff for getting us this far. We recognise that our work is urgent if we are to contribute to restoring public confidence in Members of Parliament."
The Committee on Members Allowances (MAC) was set up by the House of Commons on 22 January 2009, and is chaired by Rt Hon Don Touhig MP. Its other members are Liz Blackman, Alastair Carmichael, Nigel Dodds, Michael Jack, Thomas MacAvoy, Dan Norris and John Randall.
The Committee's role is to:
- Advise the Members Estimates Committee (MEC) on the exercise of its functions, and advise the Speaker, MEC, and the Leader of the House on the potential development of the arrangement for Members Allowances.
- Adjudicate in appeals over Members Allowances
- Assess the provisions of the Green Book and publish Practice Notes to elaborate on aspects of the Green Book, the Guide to Members Allowances.
For further details, please contact the House of Commons Media and Communications Service on 020 7219 0969 or 07917 488978.