MPs are likely to lose their right to claim allowances for second homes under a surprise package of reforms announced today.
County MPs together claimed more than £320,000 in second home allowances in 2008 with several claiming up to the maximum permitted of £23,063, according to official figures.
Now those allowances look set to be scrapped, with the Government unveiling plans to replace them with a flat rate allowance that will be paid for being at Westminster on parliamentary business.
The move is an attempt to head off on-going criticism of MPs’ expenses and in particular their claims for second homes.
For those MPs who live within a reasonable distance of London, there will be a London supplement, which is already available to MPs who have constituencies within inner London. That is £2,916.
The move, announced by leader of the House Harriet Harman, comes ahead of a full inquiry into MPs’ expenses.
In a statement, Ms Harman also said no claims for food, fuel, mortgage interest and rent should be allowed and ministers living in "grace-and-favour" homes would not be able to claim the new allowance.
Gordon Brown said it was vital to restore public trust in MPs’ expenses. In a statement, he said: "I believe we have to act urgently with interim proposals to restore people’s confidence that MPs are there to serve the public and not themselves. With these changes I hope that the work of MPs can be recognised again for what it is - service to the public."
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Mr Brown also said: "The issue of expenses is casting a cloud over the whole of Parliament. So members of Parliament need to have the humility to recognise that the country has lost confidence in the current system."
Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP Derek Wyatt said he welcomed the reforms but wanted to see more details.
"We do have to get on with this. We cannot wait but there is a lot more detail I want to see. We are being bounced into this without much consultation."