Here are the full texts of the letter from Gordon Brown to Sir Christopher Kelly, chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, about changes to his plans to reform MPs' expenses - and Sir Christopher's reply.
Mr Brown's letter:
THE PRIME MINISTER 27 April 2009
Dear Sir Christopher
The Government remains determined to move to an allowance system that is fair, transparent and less costly than the current system.
You will be aware that, in order to achieve this, the Government will put forward measures to the House this Thursday. These include ending claims for a second home from outer London; reducing the requirement for receipts claims from above £25 to zero; making staff appointed by MPs direct employees of the House of Commons and declaring in full where MPs have a second source of income from second jobs. We have also ended claims for Ministers living in official residences.
You will also be aware that a consensus has not been reached on the future of the Personal Additional Accommodation Expenditure for MPs. But we are agreed on the need for swift reform. Therefore I would ask the Committee on Standards in Public Life to come forward with its proposals on this issue as soon as possible and preferably before the summer recess, taking into account MPs' attendance at Westminster, the need for transparency and accountability and the desire to reduce the existing limits on the allowances which MPs may claim, producing overall cost savings.
I continue to highly value the role of the Committee on Standards in Public Life and look forward to your report on all aspects of MPs allowances.
Sir Christopher's letter:
27 April 2009
Dear Prime Minister,
Review of MPs' Expenses
Thank you for your letter of 27 April. My Committee and I fully understand the imperative to move quickly to restore public confidence in the system for reimbursing MPs' expenses.
You will be aware that we published our consultation paper last week. We have asked for written comments by 5th June 2009 as we are keen to give everyone that wants to do so, the opportunity to have their say. We will also be holding a series of public hearings in June and July. Expenditure on accommodation is but one part - though a fairly major one - of a more complex system. We would be concerned about addressing it in isolation and remain eager to hear all proposals for reform.
As you know the issues here are not simple; the Committee takes the view that the process of hearing all the arguments and making recommendations based on evidence is key if we are to put forward a workable and credible package of changes. We aim to complete our review as early as we can consistent with doing a thorough job.