Commons leader urges publication of ‘secret expenses deals’

By Peter Wozniak

The details of deals made between MPs and the standards and privileges committee over expenses misdemeanours should be published more widely, Sir George Young has urged.

The move, initially proposed by standards commissioner John Lyon, would shed light on ‘rectification’ arrangements which saw MPs investigated for minor misuse of expenses escape ‘naming and shaming’ if they repaid the money claimed.

Sir George, who used to be chair of the committee when the Mr Lyon made the suggestion in 2009 but is now leader of the House, wrote to MPs: “The government fully supports these proposals. The failure to publish more details of the use of rectification is clearly potentially damaging to the House’s reputation.”

The procedures were used for what My Lyon described as “less serious” breaches of the rules regarding such matters as office stationery, but the public anger over expenses has moved Sir George to prevent any further damage to the standing of MPs, which is already at an all-time low following the scandal last year.

MPs who participated in rectification were forced to apologise and pay back money wrongfully claimed, and the details of the committee’s findings were given to the original complainant.

The standards commission has previously dismissed suggestions that the procedure represented ‘secret’ deals which exclude the public, pointing out that there was no restriction on the person issuing the complaint to publish the details once received from the commissioner.

However, Sir George’s move will add momentum for Mr Lyon’s proposals, though the backbench business committee will have to make time for a debate on the issue.