EXPENSES ROW: Time for Parliament to match the standards it has imposed on local government

PUBLISHED: 13:24 21 May 2009 | UPDATED: 09:05 02 June 2010

EXPENSES and allowances for Members of Parliament have made disturbing reading in the past few weeks. It seemed appropriate for me to comment on councillors expenses in view of the disgraceful performance of a number of MPs (not our MP I am glad to say)

EXPENSES and allowances for Members of Parliament have made disturbing reading in the past few weeks.

It seemed appropriate for me to comment on councillors' expenses in view of the disgraceful performance of a number of MPs (not our MP I am glad to say).

Local Government has particularly rigorous standards of transparency and accountability, seemingly not shared by Parliament.

Councillors must enter on a public register all their financial and other outside interests. They must also declare their interest in any item to be debated in council or committee.

Councillors' expenses and allowances claims are set by an independent panel.

No councillors can sit on this panel but they can be called to give evidence. The council publishes in its constitution a Members' Allowance Scheme setting out clearly what expenses may be claimed.

Councillors can only claim mileage at 40p a mile (it has been that sum for 10 years). There are clear instructions on what is allowed for travel, subsistence, meals and accommodation when away from home required on approved council duties.

The expenses claimed by each councillor are published by the council in the local newspapers.

It is time for Parliament to match the high standards it has imposed on local government.

GEOFFREY F HARPER

gharper@fenland.gov.uk

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