MPs' pay 'should be raised to cover housing costs'

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Indy Politics

Contentious housing allowances for MPs should be replaced with a substantial increase in their salaries in the wake of sleaze allegations, a senior Conservative MP has declared.

Theresa May, the Shadow Leader of the Commons, said the £23,000-a-year allowance should be replaced with a rise in pay to cover the costs of running two homes.

Ms May's comments come as senior MPs draw up proposals for fundamental reform of MPs' pay and allowances in the wake of the Derek Conway affair.

Her comments are significant because she sits on the Members' Estimates Committee, which is charged with producing proposals for reform by the summer. Ms May said: "We should take that housing allowance out. That's my personal view. There would need to be an increase in salary because most MPs do have to have two homes, that's an extra cost of being a member of Parliament."

The additional costs allowance, which can be claimed by MPs with constituencies outside London, can fund mortgage interest and maintenance on second homes, as well as buying household appliances and food. It also allows MPs to spend £400 a month on shopping without receipts.

"MPs should be putting in receipts," Ms May said. "We should be operating on the same basis as people operate in the outside world."

Commons authorities are considering whether to continue fighting requests under the Freedom of Information Act to release a breakdown of the allowance.

Michael Martin, the Speaker, faced criticism over his allowance after reports that he claimed thousands of pounds for his Glasgow home despite his grace-and-favour apartment in the Commons.