I would like to make a statement on members' allowances. We all know that it is the tradition of this House that the Speaker speaks to the whole House.
But in doing so, please allow me to say to the men and women of the United Kingdom that we have let you down very badly indeed. We must all accept the blame and, to the extent that I have contributed to the situation, I am profoundly sorry.
Now each and every member, including myself, must work hard to regain your trust.
As a matter of urgency and within 48 hours I am calling the Prime Minister and party leaders, including the minority parties, to meet with me and the other members of the House of Commons Commission. Also present will be the Right Honourable member for Islwyn [Don Touhig, the chairman of the Members Allowances Committee].
Leaders of all parties have made announcements on what should be done. Some of their proposals are very similar to those put to the House on July 3 last year by the Members Estimate Committee – which I chair – and copies of which are lodged in the Vote Office.
I want discussion to centre on the Additional Costs Allowance and all those matters that have caused the greatest controversy and most anger with the public. And I include in that early publication of Additional Costs Allowance, office costs and travel material.
While we await the work of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, we must search for agreement so that the Leader of the House can bring forward resolutions to give an opportunity for the House to deal with the immediate situation.
In the meantime, I do urge all Honourable Members not to submit claims for approval.
Last week I had a most productive meeting with Sir Christopher Kelly, who explained to me his hopes to bring reasoned proposals in the autumn.
While we await the outcome of his work, it is imperative that we continue to improve our accounts and practice in the interim and get in place measures that work and are seen to be working.
And I say again, we all bear a heavy responsibility for the terrible damage to the reputation of this House. We must do everything we possibly can to regain the trust and confidence of the people.