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Financial support for the House of Lords Transparent, Robust, Accountable

Financial support for the House of Lords Transparent, Robust, Accountable

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 26 November 2009

Issued by the News Distribution Service on behalf of the Senior Saleries Review Body

The Government has today published the report of the Review Body on Senior Salaries (SSRB) on financial support for Members of the House of Lords.

Launching the report, Bill Cockburn, Chairman of the SSRB, said:

"The recommended changes provide Members of the House of Lords with the necessary financial support to enable them to carry out their important Parliamentary duties.

Our proposals offer the taxpayer much more transparency and accountability than the present arrangements, which lack clarity and could be vulnerable to misunderstanding and abuse.”

The SSRB’s report was commissioned by the House of Lords authorities with a strong remit for reform. We consulted widely and many Peers pressed for a new system to satisfy the needs of Parliament, restore public confidence and provide an appropriate level of financial support to Peers. Above all they called for much greater clarity in the criteria governing financial support.

Key features and recommendations include:

* Transparency; clear criteria; personal declarations; publication and independent audit of all aspects of the new system.
* A reduced overnight subsistence allowance of up to £140 per night, fully supported by receipts for those Peers based outside Greater London and beyond reasonable commuting distance.
* Replacement of the existing daily allowances of up to £180 per day by a fee of £200 for each day of attendance at debates and Committees in the House of Lords. The new fee will cover out-of-pocket expenses, meals, office costs, including secretarial assistance if required, and a contribution to income.
* Travel costs from home to Westminster will be paid subject to receipts or charged to the House of Lords travel credit card.
* A strengthened system for validating and measuring the attendances of Peers in the House, using technology where practicable.
* Peers claiming overnight subsistence must make personal declarations, with supporting justification that their principal residence is outside Greater London and beyond reasonable commuting distance.
* Peers owning second homes in London may claim specified running costs against receipts up to £140 per day of attendance. Mortgage interest costs will not be allowable after a transitional period of five years.
* Payments to Peers are tax exempt at present. The proposed daily fee should become subject to tax when legislation is amended and the level of the fee should then be reviewed.
* There should be independent audit by the National Audit Office of claims and declarations by Peers.
* Salaries and financial support to Lords Ministers to be reviewed by the SSRB when the salaries of MPs are reviewed in the next Parliament.

Bill Cockburn continued:

"The SSRB has produced a balanced, robust package of measures which, if adopted in full, will provide appropriate financial support for Peers, value for the taxpayer and much more rigorous governance.

We were greatly impressed by the dedication, quality and professionalism of the House of Lords. It plays a vital and much valued role within the Parliamentary process. Members are drawn from a broad spectrum of society from across the UK and many are eminent in their specialist fields."

Notes for Editors

1. The SSRB’s full report and all non-confidential responses to the consultation are available on the website of the Office of Manpower Economics (OME) (http://www.ome.uk.com/review.cfm?body=4). The OME provides the secretariat to the pay review bodies.

2. Currently most Members of the Lords do not receive salaries but may claim daily allowances of up to £335.50 intended to cover costs of attending the House, including travel, overnight accommodation, secretarial and office costs (where eligible) and out-of-pocket expenses. No receipts are required to claim, except for certain travel expenses.

3. The recommended changes are expected to be broadly cost-neutral, but meet much higher standards of transparency and accountability and reduce the scope for abuse, for example by requiring receipts and tightening up the definition of ‘principal residence’.

4. The SSRB is an independent body which advises the Government on the remuneration of senior positions in the public sector, including the judiciary, senior military officers, senior civil servants and some senior NHS managers.

5. Information on the SSRB’s membership and standing terms of reference are available at http://www.ome.uk.com/review.cfm?body=4

Contact: Dawn Camus, Press Officer, 0207 215 8391

www.ome.uk.com

Contacts:

NDS Enquiries
Phone: For enquiries please contact the above department
ndsenquiries@coi.gsi.gov.uk

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