Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Broken promises over MP's perks

Back in 2010, the Law Commission issued its Review of the Civil List Act 1979 – Members of Parliament and Ministers [PDF], in which they recommended removing MP's control of their own perks and instead having them set by an independent body. Their solution wasn't perfect - for example, it allowed senior MPs to keep their unjustifiable travel perk, including the extra 15% lifetime discount they stole from us by stealth in 2010 - but it was a start. And the Prime Minister got with the programme, promising that he would pass the bill by the end of 2011.

Today, the second-to-last sitting day in this Parliamentary term, the Members of Parliament (Remuneration and Services) Bill was finally introduced. It will not pass by the end of 2011. Which means that sometime next year, MPs through the Parliamentary Services Commission will set their own perks again, continuing the rorts we are all sick of.

As for the bill itself, its pretty much what the Law Commission recommended, and from my brief skim I haven't found any significant differences. It does have the bad effect of locking in existing entitlements, in particular the ongoing lifetime travel discounts to senior MPs, which do not serve any Parliamentary purpose and are "justified" on the basis of longstanding myths which even if they were true would apply only to a few members. Parliament should use this bill to end those entitlements forever. And if they don't, they'll be earning that reputation once again.