MPs want to keep their perks - as well as 11% pay rise

MPs on Commons standards committee argue that other professionals who work anti-social hours are able to claim for expenses

Deputy Political Editor

MPs have launched a battle to hang on to their taxpayer-funded allowances for late-night taxis and hotels, as well as for free tea, coffee and evening meals.

Westminster's financial watchdog has called for them to lose the perks in return for receiving a £7,000-plus pay rise that would boost their salaries to £74,000.

The 11 per cent increase is expected to be approved within weeks despite the opposition of the three main party leaders to the inflation-busting move.

But MPs on the Commons standards committee said they should also be allowed to retain their benefits, arguing that other professionals who worked anti-social hours are able to claim for similar expenses.

They criticised the proposals from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) for MPs to lose their right to claim £15 for food and non-alcoholic drinks when Parliament sits after 7.30pm and for free hot drinks for visitors.

Ipsa said they should only be allowed to travel home in a taxi after 11pm or stay in a hotel after 1am. The watchdog also called for an end to taxpayers meeting the cost of contents insurance and installing a television in a second home.

Pointing out that the expenses cost £161,000 - equivalent to £248 per MP - in 2011-12, Ipsa argued that most professionals would expect to pay for them themselves.

The committee's MPs said they routinely worked 60 to 70 hours a week and countered that police, junior doctors, solicitors and some civil servants are reimbursed for working late at night.

"We do not consider Ipsa has made a case for changing the boundary of the existing scheme of business costs and expenses," they said.

The MPs added: "We find it hard to believe that employers in other sectors would expect their employees to wait until 01.00 before booking a hotel."

They raised concerns that the planned curb on late-evening taxis would affect their ability to do their job properly.

"We note that many committees begin work at 08.55 and members are expected to attend regardless of the hour at which they ended their work the night before," they said.

The committee also strongly defended taxpayers meeting the expense of buying a television and of a television licence for an MP's second home.

It said: "Since MPs' work involves being informed and available at virtually any hour, we consider access to media and the internet when residing away from home is a legitimate business expense."

On the suggestion that MPs should lose their evening meal allowance, they said: "We note that subsistence payments for food are commonly given to those who are working away from their normal workplace, whether or not they are required to work unsocial hours."

Ipsa is due to make its final recommendations on pay by the end of the year. The watchdog's credibility will suffer a potentially fatal blow if its proposal for a big rise on a backbencher's salary of £66,396 is opposed by David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg.

However, the leaders will be aware of the certain public backlash if MPs are awarded a lavish increase while most of the country suffers continuing austerity.

Mr Cameron's official spokesman said today: "MPs' pay is a matter for Ipsa. The Prime Minister's view is that the cost of politics should go down, not up."

Video: Nick Clegg on benefits for the wealthy

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate