In the face of a threatened revolt Gordon Brown will have the new expenses system imposed on MPs. The MPs had thought that they could vote on an eventually watered down proposal so ditching the bits they found 'unacceptable'.

Sir Christopher Kelly has reviewed the expenses system and recommended amongst many others that:

  • MPs living within 1 hour of Westminster cannot claim for a second home.
  • MPs cannot employ family members.
  • They can only rent modest accommodation, which must be sanctioned by parliamentary authorities and cost up to £1250 per month.
  • They will no longer be able to claim for food, furniture and mortgages.
  • The £65,000 parachute payment for MPs who stand down will cease.

Gordon is now showing some rare leadership. He is preparing to accept all of the recommendations and force them on the House. The Leader of the House, Harriet Harman, will just announce it next week.

This all sounds very welcome, but it shows the calibre of the people in the Commons if they cannot see that this is needed in this economically desperate time.

However, in the future who will decide what MPs are worth? There are probably tens if not hundreds of applicants for each 'post', so arguably the pay could drop. But we don't want adequate, cost effective MPs, the sort of compromise that business looks for. We need the best that each constituency can put up. The calling of being an MP must appeal on all levels. From job satisfaction to pay. That will also mean giving more power back to MPs in parliament (the legislature) instead of the continual move of power to the Government (the executive).

In my view we need to increase the pay of MPs significantly, but keep the expenses along the new modest levels. Without this, government will be forced to keep appointing unelected 'experts' to bring expertise, talent and sometimes political bias into the mix.

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