Page last updated at 13:29 GMT, Sunday, 8 November 2009

Hague in expenses reform warning

William Hague: It would be wrong to rewrite Kelly report

William Hague has urged the man in charge of implementing new rules on MPs' expenses to back reforms suggested by Sir Christopher Kelly in his review.

Sir Ian Kennedy may not make MPs pay back capital gains made from the sale of their second homes or stop them from employing their spouses, reports say.

But Mr Hague said any tinkering with the Kelly review's recommendations would be "unwise and unnecessary".

The shadow foreign secretary was speaking on BBC One's Andrew Marr show.

He brushed aside press reports that Sir Ian, who was selected by a government-appointed panel of non-politicians and approved by Commons Speaker John Bercow and a committee of MPs, is a close friend of former Downing Street spin doctor Alastair Campbell.

"I don't know how close he is to Alastair Campbell and I don't think that determines his merits or otherwise to do the job," Mr Hague told Andrew Marr.

But he added: "It would be wrong to rewrite was has now been produced. We need public confidence again in the MPs' expenses system.

"The public are pleased with what Sir Christopher Kelly has said and we have to accept it and not quibble about it - and we don't really want anybody else to come in and quibble about it either."

'No obligation'

Sir Christopher set out his plan to reform expenses on Wednesday and received the backing of the three main party leaders at Westminster.

Sir Christopher Kelly

His report has now gone before academic lawyer and former TV host Sir Ian - head of the new Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) - who said last week it provided a "clear set of recommendations for reform".

Commons leader Harriet Harman urged MPs on all sides to accept Kelly's findings in full and not to treat them as a "menu of options" - and she said they would not be getting a vote on the report as it had now been handed to IPSA, a body created by MPs, which she said should be allowed to get on with its job.

Sir Christopher said last week he was "fairly reassured" that his report - which also included a ban on "flipping" of residences, making MPs rent accommodation rather than claim for mortgages on second homes and scrapping generous redundancy pay-outs - would be implemented in full by IPSA.

However, the Telegraph said on Saturday Sir Ian was, in fact, unhappy with some of the proposals, including moves to ban MPs from employing relatives and to compel them to pay back any profits made from the sale of second homes and that he felt under "no obligation" to accept them.

Hs words sparked fury from some MPs.

Labour former minister Kate Hoey said they "might please a lot of members of Parliament who don't like a lot of the things Kelly has said but I think it is not going to please the public - because the public really want to see this sorted".

Labour MP John Mann said Sir Ian's comments were "unacceptable" and if his plan was to "unravel Kelly" he must resign.

Lib Dem MP Norman Baker also said he was "deeply dismayed" at the reports.

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