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Reform MPs' pay once and for all, says Clegg

The Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg demanded yesterday that Gordon Brown swiftly set a date to discuss MPs' expenses.

The Prime Minister said last week that the system of pay and perks must be sorted out "once and for all, adding that he was happy to discuss the issue with fellow party leaders.

But Mr Clegg said the email scandal engulfing No 10 had heightened the need for reforms. He said a meeting should be held "without delay to come up with a fair and open way of meeting MPs' costs".

He said: "As the events of the Easter weekend have shown, there are political insiders right at the heart of Government who seem to live in a small world of their own, oblivious to the effect their actions have on public confidence in politics."

Mr Clegg published his own proposals for an "extensive reform of the system" last week. He wants MPs banned from claiming expenses to buy second homes and the amount they can claim for rent and other costs "substantially reduced". Last night he said: "Others will have their own proposals too. It's important that we now look at the detail of these proposals to secure an agreement between party leaders."

Mr Clegg's comments coincide with the Committee on Standards in Public Life investigation into the Commons allowances regime, which has come under serious scrutiny.

The inquiry has been brought forward after details of MPs' expenses were leaked to the media. Mr Brown was forced to defend Home Secretary Jacqui Smith after she claimed taxpayer-funded expenses for two adults films watched at her family home. It was also revealed that the bill for MPs' expenses and allowances soared by an inflation-busting 6 per cent last year to reach almost £93m.