The new Independent Authority has reached ts conclusions on what expenses MPs should be allowed to claim. There are some improvements for the taxpayer – no full fare first class travel, a lower amount for rent of a second home, and fewer extra items for that second home. Mortgage interest is disallowed.
Last night we were voting on the Budget until 11.30pm – later than the usual 10.30 pm finish on a Tuesday. That led to discussion amongst some MPs about the new list of constituencies not eligible for a second home allowance at all, on the grounds that they are within easy train travelling distance with sensible train times into and out of London. In Berkshire the determination is that Bracknell, Wokingham and Newbury are allowed second home costs but Maidenhead, Reading East, Reading West, Slough and Windsor are not. It’s the same pattern in all the Home Counties.
Personally I think IPSA has a very difficult job to do and they have gone about it sensibly. I just hope there is now public support for their scheme, so the MPs settle down to it. Last night in some areas – not the mentioned Berkshire MPs – there were unhappy MPs trying to work out how they could get home to their constituencies if they reached the station at midnight.