4 November 2003
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION: MEMBERS' EXPENSES
The House agreed on 14 January to the recommendation
of the House Committee that information relating to Members' Expenses
claims should be published, in accordance with the Freedom of
Information Act 2000, with effect from the autumn of 2004The
Committee at the same time undertook to return to the House following
its detailed consideration of the categories of expenses to be
disclosed and the form in which the information should be published.
This report fulfils that undertaking.
The House has agreed that the information to
should be published annually;
should be broken down by the main
categories of expenses available: travelling expenses, day subsistence,
night subsistence, office costs, and the pre-paid envelope scheme;
should include an indication of the
location of each Member's main residence.
The House also agreed that the information initially
to be disclosed should include that relating to the three financial
years 2001-02, 2002-03 and 2003-04. The House of Commons has come
to a similar decision.
In addition, the House agreed that information
should be published about the expenses incurred by Members travelling
on Select Committee business (these expenses being met by the
House administration rather than being claimed by Members under
the Members' Reimbursement Allowance Scheme) or as part of an
official parliamentary delegation (the expenses of which are met
initially by the House of Commons' Overseas Office). It also agreed
that details held by the House of claims for Financial Assistance
for Opposition Parties ("Cranborne money") should be
There are two separate classes of information
involved. The first is the claims for expenses of individual Members.
The second is the publication of information about the costs of
committees, delegations and opposition parties. They are dealt
with separately here.
The Committee makes the following detailed recommendations
about the information to be published:
Following the Lord Chairman's undertaking made in
the House on 14 January, there should be an opportunity for Members
to give an indication of the location of their main residence
if they so wish. The indication should be expressed by
reference to county or equivalent region.
The number of days each Member attended the House
or a committee of the House should be published along with the
data on expenses claims.
All claims for the Office Costs allowance should
be aggregated and a single figure published of the total sums
claimed under this head.
Information about reimbursement of Members' travel
costs should be given on a single aggregated basis encompassing
all the three schemes: travel from the principal place of residence
to Westminster; UK travel on parliamentary business; and EU travel
on parliamentary business.
Information about claims for travelling expenses
by spouses of Members or Officeholders should not be published.
Information about additional expenses incurred by
disabled Members in attending the House and reimbursed on account
of their disability should not be published.
A simple indication should be given whether or not
a Member is provided by the House with IT equipment on loan. This
should be accompanied by a general description of the support
The information to be published should include that
relating to Members of the House who have died, retired or otherwise
left the House during the year in question.
A table indicating the form in which the information
would be published if the Committee's recommendations are adopted
is in Appendix 1 to this Report.
Committee visits and delegation expenses
The House of Commons has for some time published
separate sessional breakdowns of the costs of committees, including
costs relating to committee visits. Details of such costs have
been collated in the Lords with effect from 1 April 2003, and
we recommend that the total costs of each committee visit, together
with details of its duration, purpose, and the numbers of Members
and staff attending, should henceforth be published annually in
respect of each financial year.
No details have previously been published of
the costs of parliamentary delegations to international Parliamentary
assemblies. The relevant delegations are those to the Parliamentary
Assemblies of the Council of Europe, the Western European Union,
NATO and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
The House of Commons has now begun to publish the total expenditure
incurred by each delegation, at six-monthly intervals, and has
offered to include Lords Members of such delegations within that
publication. The Committee recommends the adoption of this arrangement.
Financial Assistance to Opposition Parties ("Cranborne
The total sums available from the House to the
Opposition Parties and to the Convenor of the Cross Bench Peers
in carrying out their parliamentary duties are published in the
Annual Report. The Committee recommends that the House should
publish for each party the aggregated figure of claims actually
paid (see Appendix 2).
Information about the data to be published
Early in 2004 the Accountant's Office will begin
to send to Members information relating to their own claims over
the years 2001-02 and 2002-03. Members will have the opportunity
to correct any errors in the data.
Information relating to the current year will
be sent to Members as soon as practicable after the year end.
As Members have three months in which to submit claims, the deadline
for submitting 2003-04 claims will be 30 June 2004. Given the
tight timescale to ensure publication of the figures in the autumn
Members will be given a maximum of one month in which to correct
any errors, from the date on which the data were sent to them
by the Accountant's Office.
1 See First Report for 2002-03 of the House Committee
(HL Paper 19), HL Deb, 14 January 2003, cols 136-141. Back