British government outlines tighter rules on expenses

May 21st, 2009 - 1:15 am ICT by IANS  

Gordon Brown London, May 20 (DPA) The British government Wednesday outlined plans for a reform of the discredited expenses system for parliamentarians at the centre of a scandal that has engulfed all the main political parties.
The tougher rules, agreed by party leaders, would introduce a system of external regulation for expenses claims in order to “put the reputation of parliament above reproach”, deputy Labour Party leader Harriet Harman said.

On Tuesday, Speaker Michael Martin, who as parliamentary president oversaw the allowance scheme, resigned over the scandal. A number of high-profile members of Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s government remain under investigation over possible breaches of the rules governing claims.

In future, there would be a cap of 1,250 pounds ($1,950) a month on rent or mortgage interest payments that can be claimed by members of parliament (MPs) on second homes, Harman said.

The process of “flipping”, whereby MPs alter the definition of a second home in order to sell property subsidised by the taxpayer at a profit, would be banned.

Claims for food, furniture, cleaners or gardening will no longer be acceptable.

The proposals follow two weeks of political turbulence over the alleged abuse of the allowance system, sparked by the publication of detailed claims and receipts in the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

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