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
Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
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

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

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