The scandal over parliamentarians’ expenses is corroding public trust in the integrity of elected politicians. The appetite for swift reform - both from politicians and the public - is huge. Suggestions for reform have flowed thick and fast, from MPs, media commentators, scholars and think tanks. But if any system is to command public confidence, it needs to be designed with public involvement. For reform be long-lasting and meaningful, the public must be at the heart of the debate about the appropriate way forward, rather than leaving it to political parties and Westminster insiders.
To this end, Demos convened the first Citizens Convention on MPs’ Expenses in association with Ipsos MORI on 4th June 2009, in London. The convention brought together a representative group of the public for debate, discussion and deliberative voting. This Citizens’ Charter is their view on how the system should be changed and Demos has submitted it to the Committee for Standards in Public Life.
The convention voted for reform of the current system of pay but with no full majority on the option for reform. Performance pay should be considered as a future option for MPs.
2. Second-home Allowance
MPs should have to designate their main home in their constituency and their second home in London or designated flats for non inner-London MPs should be introduced.
3. Regulation of Expenses
Expenses to be signed off by an independent body outside of Parliament. Full transparency should be introduced, with all MP expenses being published online.
MPs should continue to receive support for staffing at the current or a higher level. MPs should be permitted to continue employing family members but only with more regulation.