£25-a-day subsistence allowance for MPs to be scrapped

Author: By Nigel Morris

It allows them to receive the payment to cover subsistence for every night they are away from their designated main home on “parliamentary business”. The flat-rate payment, which theoretically could allow an MP to claim more than £9,000 a year, was approved without fanfare last year by MPs of all parties.

However, the new Speaker, John Bercow, is set to review the scheme and is expected to require MPs to produce receipts to justify the payments.

Sir Christopher Kelly’s Committee on Standards in Public Life, which is examining reforms to the expenses system, also looks certain to axe the allowance.

Sir Christopher has already said: “Wherever reasonably possible, all claims for expenses should be backed up by receipts or other appropriate documentation, available to be produced if necessary.”

MPs have also backed the principle of being forced to back all claims with receipts. But the Green Book, the MPs’ guide to expenses, said in July: “A flat-rate sum of £25 may be claimed for any night which a Member spends away from his or her main home on parliamentary business… No receipt is necessary in respect of the flat-rate payment for subsistence.”

A House of Commons Commission spokeswoman said last night that the £25 flat-rate payment had been voted for by MPs last year and was not a recent introduction.

The allowance was also in the Green Book published in March, she said. She said that Sir Christopher’s committee may choose to remove the subsistence allowance, but for now it was in place.

She said that the £25-a-night allowance effectively replaced the £400 a month allowance for food, which required no receipts.

Commission member Sir Stuart Bell said: “The House approved the £25-a-night subsistence allowance last July. The figure was included in the Green Book from April, and has been in operation since that time.

“There is no question of an MP being able to claim the entire year in Westminster at £25 a day. If such a claim were to be made it would be subject to thorough investigation.”

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