HC Deb 02 December 1997 vol 302 cc152-3
31. Mr. Steen

If she will make a statement on the arrangements for the payment of Members' allowances. [17122]

Mrs. Ann Taylor

Allowances for hon. Members are provided by resolution of the House. Claims and payments are handled by the Fees Office, whose systems are designed to ensure accountability for the taxpayers' money involved.

Mr. Steen

Because of the misdemeanours of one or two Members of Parliament, there has been an understandable push for greater transparency when allowances are claimed from the Fees Office. However, is the Leader of the House aware that this has resulted in a plethora of forms such as C1s, which are the reimbursement claim forms, C2s, C3s, Members' car allowance scheme forms and Members' constituency mileage continuation sheets? There is also a 43-page document called "Parliamentary Salaries, Allowances and Pensions" which includes details of where to get help. It takes many hours every week to fill in these forms, but would not that time be far better spent looking after one's constituents? Surely, accountability and transparency do not have to mean excessive form filling. We are not all crooks.

Mrs. Taylor

I think that hon. Members have a duty to ensure that our own systems are transparent and that we are as accountable as people in other spheres of public service. I realise that there has been additional paperwork for hon. Members, but I think that the vast majority of them are not finding it difficult to comply with the regulations.