RULES AND ADVICE
53. For any system there are issues about how the
rules are applied to allowances as well as the overall structure
of the allowances. These include:
- how clear are the rules?
- are they mandatory or advisory?
- how can consistency and fairness be achieved?
- who is responsible for making sure that the rules
A simpler set of rules may be desirable, but they
may not meet every circumstance. How desirable is flexibility
and consistency? Or is some rough justice and inequity acceptable
in the cause of maintaining simplicity? Is there any arrangement
which is entirely fair between those representing London constituencies
and those elsewhere?
How should the House help Members to ensure that
their claims are above reproach? Could the existing advisory
service within the Department of Resources be developed further?
To whom should Members have accessbeyond the officials
immediately responsibleto consult about whether their arrangements
are acceptable? Before issues of propriety arise, should Members
undertake a regular and confidential health check on their parliamentary
financesperhaps with the help of House staff, disinterested
colleagues or an independent expert? In minor cases of lapse,
should there be a process for resolving the problem short of complaint
to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards?
This leads to some fundamental questions about
how Members' expenses are administered by the staff of the House.
Would it give greater assurance if the system of Members' expenses
was administered by an outside body or had more in the way of
external scrutiny? If so, how might this work and what would
be the costs and benefits?
Should House officials be given greater authority
to scrutinise Members' use of allowances, rather than just vetting
claims as now?