MPs swap 'John Lewis list' for 'Ikea list'

MPs finally agreed to ditch the controversial "John Lewis list" today - but still clung to the right to kit out their second homes at the taxpayers' expense.

The latest drive to reform MPs' allowances descended into recriminations after Gordon Brown blocked an attempt to end all expenses claims for household goods and furniture.

Instead, MPs will now only be able to claim £2,400 a year for such items - 10% of their total £24,000 second homes allowance.

The Commons also agreed to scrap the "John Lewis list" - which details how much MPs can claim for an array of goods based on prices at the up-market department store.

But the Tories, who had called for an end to any furniture claims under the Additional Costs Allowance (ACA), insisted the new cap did not go far enough.

Shadow leader of the House Theresa May accused the Government of replacing the "John Lewis list" with an "Ikea list".

The package accepted unanimously by the Commons today will also introduce an element of independent scrutiny of MPs' expenses, although well short of what was recommended by a recent review.

The National Audit Office (NAO) will oversee the procedures for new internal checks on expenses claims and approve new rules governing the allowances.

The Members' Estimate Committee, which conducted a "root and branch" review of expenses earlier this year, had called for the NAO to scrutinise claims itself.

Today's vote was an attempt by MPs to make amends after their rejection of reforms of their expenses earlier this month sparked public uproar.

But they were nevertheless described as "half-hearted" by the TaxPayers' Alliance.

Chief executive Matthew Elliott said: "Taxpayers are fundamentally unhappy with MPs spending our money on furniture and TVs, and while a £2,400 limit is an improvement, it is still £2,400 too much.

"The NAO audit is yet another unsatisfactory compromise. We urgently need proper transparency and accountability, which means all receipts must be submitted and published in full."

The Tories brought the issue back to the Commons in the form of an Opposition Day debate, although the Government insisted it had been working on proposals for weeks.

All parties backed the abolition of the "John Lewis list" - the now-notorious table of furniture and home improvement claims available to MPs, based on prices at the department store.

They include £10,000 for a kitchen, £6,000 for a bathroom, plasma televisions and other electricals, furniture and any white goods.

But a Tory bid to end ACA claims for anything but utility bills, council tax and mortgage interest or rent was defeated by 295 to 238 after Labour opposed it.

The Government, led by the Prime Minister, instead proposed that claims for household goods out of the £24,000 ACA be capped at 10%.

Mr Brown was left embarrassed earlier this month when the Commons threw out reforms of the second homes allowance.

The vast majority of the MPs who rejected the shake-up then were Labour, including 34 ministers, among them Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and Culture Secretary Andy Burnham.

Ms May said: "The Government is treating people like fools; they are just replacing the John Lewis list with the Ikea list.

"MPs should not be able to buy their TVs and furniture at the taxpayer's expense. When will this Labour Government get the message?"

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Production Administrator

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading and fastest ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sunroom / Conservatory / Extension Designers

£16000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Planning Assistant

£16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working for one of the count...

Recruitment Genius: Purchase Ledger Administrator

£5120 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working for one of the countr...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence