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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 February 2008, 15:53 GMT
Cameron sets out expenses changes
David Cameron
Mr Cameron: Setting out new rules to his MPs
David Cameron has said all Tory front bench spokespeople will declare from July details of any Commons allowances spent - and any relatives they employ.

The Conservatives will then publish details each April of the spending. Mr Cameron said he also hoped the rest of the party's MPs would follow suit.

His move comes after Tory MP Derek Conway was suspended from the Commons.

The Commons standards committee has also recommended all MPs should declare any relatives employed, by April.

Mr Cameron said he wanted the declarations, to be made on a single form, to include what salary band employees were being paid.

Full list of staff, positions and salary bands to be published
Any relatives employed to be revealed
Office running costs breakdown
Breakdown of "additional costs allowance" for accommodation
First declaration by July
MPs urged to produce receipts for claims under 250

He said the public had "a greater right to know" about the use of allowances and every front bench MP would need to name their staff, the position they held and where they worked.

He said his front bench team would have to give a breakdown of accommodation, office, stationery and living costs and he would urge colleagues to produce receipts for claims of up to 250.

The House of Commons should eventually be responsible for employing MPs' staff, he added.

"For many years, a culture grew up in Westminster where allowances were added because pay wasn't increased - and I think what we need to do is unwind and change that culture," he said.

Flat expenses

Last week Mr Conway had the Tory whip withdrawn and was suspended from the Commons for 10 days over payments to his son, Freddie, out of his MP's allowance.

MPs can use public funds to employ relatives as secretaries or researchers, but at the moment there is no requirement to declare the relationship.

Speaker's Estimates Committee: Carrying out thorough review into allowances due to report back in autumn
Commons standards committee:Recommending compulsory registration of relatives employed by MPs by 1 April
Labour:Gordon Brown wants MPs to be "open and transparent". Will wait for results estimates committee review to come up with cross-party policy
Lib Dems:Nick Clegg has urged greater "transparency". Also propose ban on employing more than one relative, spot checks on expenses claims, all expenses over 50 to require a receipt

More than 100 MPs do so - including Labour's Peter Hain who employs his 80-year-old mother as a part time secretary.

And this week husband and wife Tory MPs Sir Nicholas and Ann Winterton defended claiming back rent for a flat which they bought and then put into a trust.

Mr Cameron told the BBC's World at One he could instruct only his frontbenchers to fill in the forms, but he hoped most backbenchers would follow their lead.

He added that "a very small number" of Tory MPs "were not overly enthusiastic" about the proposals but said most were glad he was "gripping the issue".

'Reluctant' MPs

Former standards watchdog Sir Alistair Graham said a cross-party agreement was needed, preferably based on recommendations from an independent body - such as the Committee on Standards in Public Life.

"MPs have had a very long time to sort this out and have been very reluctant to do so, " he told the BBC.

Derek Conway
Mr Conway was reprimanded by a parliamentary committee

Meanwhile MPs on the Standards and Privileges Committee have proposed that all MPs' relatives employed using public money should be published in a register by April.

Commons leader Harriet Harman said the government had already decided to extend a review into MPs' pay to cover their allowances as well.

The "root and branch" review by the Commons estimates committee is expected to report back in the autumn.

Asked whether Labour would be introducing rules for its own MPs before then, she said House of Commons rules needed to apply to all MPs, rather than different rules for different parties.

"We're not going to make up policy on the hoof for the sake of headlines," she said.

For the Lib Dems, Simon Hughes said he understood concerns that an inquiry into MPs' allowances by MPs might do little to restore public confidence.

He suggested the estimates committee give its proposals to the independent Committee on Standards in Public Life which would then "form a view".

In full: Wintertons' statement
04 Feb 08 |  UK Politics
Brown backs expenses transparency
31 Jan 08 |  UK Politics
Is 'honourable' system set to end?
31 Jan 08 |  UK Politics
Conway to step down at election
30 Jan 08 |  UK Politics
Family jobs ban for MPs suggested
30 Jan 08 |  UK Politics
Conway case 'reported to police'
29 Jan 08 |  UK Politics
In full: Derek Conway's statement
29 Jan 08 |  UK Politics
Tory MP Conway says 'I'm sorry'
28 Jan 08 |  UK Politics
In full: Derek Conway's response
28 Jan 08 |  UK Politics
MPs and employment of relatives
28 Jan 08 |  UK Politics

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