Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Greens call for independent commission to monitor MPs expenses

In a letter to the Committee on Standards in Public Life, the Green Party's deputy leader, Adrian Ramsay, has called for an independent commission to oversee not only MPs expenses, but their whole professional conduct.

Adrian Ramsay wrote: "Self-regulation of Parliament has clearly failed. We need a regulator who can scrutinise the professional behaviour of MPs in the same way as doctors, lawyers or accountants are supervised, and make sure bad habits don't return in the future."

The Greens proposed other key reforms in the letter to the committee's chair, Sir Christopher Kelly:

- the starting-point for the new system should be the principle that MPs are subject to the same rules as anyone else, not only for taxation but in all respects

- rules on accommodation and other expenses would reflect those that apply to the Senior Civil Service

- MPs must be prevented from profiting from second homes

- it should be a criminal offence to knowingly overclaim expenses

Ramsay also pointed out that wider democratic reforms of Parliament are crucial, such as elections to the House of Lords and regulating and containing the lobbying power of big business over MPs.

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