Select Committee on House Third Report


1 April 2003


  On 5 March the House approved a Resolution, moved by the Leader of the House, authorising—with effect from 1 April—a new allowance to enable Members to claim reimbursement of travel and subsistence costs for up to two visits per year on parliamentary business to the EU institutions in Brussels, Luxembourg or Strasbourg, or to the national parliament of an EU state or candidate country. The text of the Resolution is given in the annex to this Report.

  The Committee has considered how this new allowance should be implemented and administered and has agreed the following.

  The Accountant will be responsible for administering the scheme. In accordance with paragraph (d) of the Resolution, Members must submit in advance a statement of the purpose and details of the proposed visit, including the persons or organisations to be met. Forms for providing such statements are available from the Accountant's Office and the Clerk of the Parliaments' Office, and should be returned to the Accountant's Office once completed. All statements will then be passed to the Clerk of the Parliaments for approval. Once a visit has been approved by the Clerk of the Parliaments, the Member concerned will be sent a form on which to claim expenses.

  Statements should be submitted at least one week before the visit is to take place. The Clerk of the Parliaments will decline to approve late submissions, save in exceptional circumstances.

  Paragraph (b) of the Resolution restricts the amount payable in respect of travel to the business class return fare between a station or airport serving London or near the Member's main residence and a station or airport serving the city to be visited. This limit will apply even if a Member opts to travel by some other form of travel, for example by car and ferry. Claims for travel costs within the UK to and from an airport or other point of exit or entry will be payable on the same terms as claims for travel expenses incurred in attending normal sittings of the House.

  The Resolution provides that Members may claim additional expenses incurred in connection with EU travel. Subsistence is limited to two nights (in other words, 48 hours, calculated from the time that a Member leaves Westminster or main residence until his or her return), and is payable at the current Foreign and Commonwealth Office class A standard subsistence rate. It will be deemed to cover accommodation costs as well as the costs of taxis, meals, refreshments, telephone calls and other incidental costs.

  As with other absences from Westminster, it will not be possible to claim expenses relating to attendance at sittings of the House in respect of the days when the Member is away.

  The term "candidate countries" in the Resolution has been interpreted to include the ten accession countries (Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia) and the other three countries whose applications have been recognised by the European Council (Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey).

  The Committee will keep all the above arrangements under review.

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