39. The SSRB reviewed travel costs and did not recommend
any change except that partners of MPs should be entitled to
the same travel arrangements available to spouses and civil
partners. This would only apply to a partner who was nominated
as the sole beneficiary for the purposes of the Parliamentary
Contributory Pension Fund. The SSRB said:
"We also heard from MPs who suggested that spouses'
and civil partners' travel costs allowance should be extended
to unmarried partners. They pointed out that the rules relating
to this allowance were at odds with the way unmarried partners
are treated in pension schemes. We agree and therefore recommend
that partners of MPs who are named in the PCPF as sole beneficiaries
should be entitled to the same travel arrangements available to
spouses and civil partners."
40. The Members Estimate Committee has not heard
any direct views on this recommendation. We have heard suggestions
from women Members that the family travel system should take fully
into account the needs of those with small and school age children
who have to travel weekly between the constituency and Westminster.
The Scottish Parliament review has recommended a change in the
practice there: "Family travel should not be funded out of
We are aware that there may be tax implications of such a change.
We understand that the current arrangement is an extra statutory
concession which may have to be withdrawn anyway by HM Revenue
& Customs. We are seeking advice on this from the Department
of Resources and HM Revenue & Customs. That advice will be
reflected in our paper on emerging conclusions in May.
Should the SSRB's recommendation to extend provision
for family travel to partners be implemented?
41. In the context of a root and branch review, however,
one suggestion which has been put forward is that the cost
of travel between Westminster and constituencies should be put
on a different footing. A separate travel budget could be
based on the facts that constituencies vary in distance from London,
size and access to public transport. We have not yet identified
a model from another Parliament in which this system operates.
Is there a case for a single travel grant for
each MP, based on location and size of constituency? How would
this be calculated and operated with simplicity and transparency?
What would be an appropriate control system? How would this
be accounted for?
16 para 5.51. Back
Recommendation 59. Back