DUP unveils plan for total reform of expenses system
THE DEMOCRATIC Unionist Party (DUP) is calling for the abolition of the MPs’ expenses system and its replacement with a model that does not entitle members to claim for food, furnishings or household goods.
The party again defended its role in the controversy, saying its claims were “of an entirely different nature to some of the indefensible behaviour by members of the main parties in Great Britain, which clearly is in contravention of the rules”.
The party’s reform proposals were necessary to “engender public confidence”. It said in a statement that it had drawn up proposals capable of commanding broad cross-party support at Westminster and of restoring public confidence in parliament.
Calling for a new central procurement division, the party wants expenses related to MPs’ constituency offices, equipment, staff, utility bills and rent or mortgage payments paid directly by the House of Commons, with no role for the elected member.
Citing the model used by the Scottish parliament, the DUP also wants a record of all costs incurred by MPs to be retained and published by the House of Commons. The DUP said if this was not done, the party would make its own figures publicly available.
It also wants independent oversight of the Westminster fees office, which handles expenses claims, and is supporting a recommendation that all past receipt claims of MPs should be examined carefully.
On the key issue of claims for expenses associated with the purchase of London properties, the party recommends that MPs should obtain no pecuniary benefit from the taxpayer contribution for mortgage interest payments following the resale of a property.
It also wants MPs’ salaries to be decided independently with no role for parliament. “The DUP has been determined to end the practice of holding multiple mandates in a manner which does not jeopardise the new political institutions at Stormont,” it added.