The findings of an independent panel appointed by the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) to carry out a full-scale review of the Parliament’s Allowances Schemes have been received today.
Speaking on behalf of the SPCB, which commissioned the review chaired by Sir Alan Langlands in June 2007, the Presiding Officer said that the process would encourage public confidence in any new scheme for the reimbursement of MSPs’ expenses.
The Report, which the SPCB agreed to publish immediately, sets out 68 recommendations, including abolition of mortgage interest and better provision for MSPs staff.
Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson MSP said:
“The review panel has clearly delivered on the remit it was set by the SPCB and has not shied away from tackling the difficult issues which prompted this review to be commissioned.
“We thank the panel for its considerable work in the preparation of this report. We agree with the panel that greater public confidence in a new scheme is essential.”
“While the Report recommends ways in which the current arrangements can be simplified to aid public understanding, we are heartened that the panel finds many of our existing arrangements to be robust, strong on accountability and highly transparent.
“We particularly welcome the panel’s recommendations to underpin the scheme with a set of recognised principles.
“The panel’s recommendations make provision for the reimbursement of legitimate and reasonable expenses which Members incur in carrying out their parliamentary duties. Therefore, we welcome the panel’s acknowledgement that the term ‘allowances’ is misleading and it is not an ‘add on’ to Members’ salaries as some have seen it.”
Following publication of the Report, the SPCB will prepare a new scheme for the reimbursement of expenses to be put to Parliament for its agreement by way of a parliamentary resolution.
The SPCB will explore whether the costs of the new scheme can be met from within the Parliament’s existing budget provision for 2008/09.