Select Committee on Members Estimate Committee Second Report


7. The current allowance system covers six aspects of an MP's working life:

a)  Living expenses for working away from home

b)  Employment of staff

c)  Office costs in constituency and at Westminster

d)  Travel between constituency and Parliament and within the constituency

e)  Communicating with constituents and the public

f)  Redundancy after an election.

8. In this paper we deal with the issues in this order, covering both root and branch changes and the specific SSRB recommendations which have been referred to the MEC by the House. Work is also being undertaken by the Department of Resources to provide a memorandum to the Baker review. The House agreed on 24 January 2008 that Sir John Baker should produce a new pay mechanism which would allow parliamentary pay to be set without any decision by Members themselves. [4]

9. The current system of financial support for Members in their parliamentary work is a mixture of different approaches. In some respects Members operate like small businesses, employing their own staff and renting their own offices in constituencies. In other respects, MPs are treated like employees of the House, claiming travel and accommodation expenses and being provided with offices at Westminster. It may be that a different modern model is needed—perhaps that of a non-executive director who works closely with the organisation, is paid and reimbursed for costs incurred while working for it, but is not an employee. Even this would not properly reflect the fact that Members are hired and fired (through their parties) by the electorate and have no security of employment. One MP has pointed out to us that for the first time in his life, he has no contract of employment. He suggested that there should be a contract for Members covering not just salary, but also employment of staff, reimbursable costs and expenses, registration of interests, conduct and publication of accounts.

4   Sir John Baker issued a consultation paper on his review, which is available at:'%20Pay%20and%20Pensions%20Consultation%20Document%2019%20March.pdf Back

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Prepared 2 April 2008