EMPLOYMENT OF STAFF IN LONDON: THE
104. As well as its proposal to increase the
provision for MPs' staffing to the equivalent of 3.5 full-time
staff, which was implemented with effect from 1 April 2008,
the SSRB suggested a further increase in the Staffing Allowance
of £1,720 for each full-time equivalent member of staff based
in London. This was to be in tandem with a reduction in IEP in
respect of London-based staff. The House remitted to this Review
of Allowances consideration of the timing of the implementation
of those recommendations.
105. We understand that the SSRB wishes to ensure
that MPs with staff in their constituency offices are not disadvantaged
compared to MPs who chose to have staff on the parliamentary estate,
since the cost of the latter is borne by the House administration
and does not come out of the MPs' allowances. We respect the need
to ease pressure on, and recognise the costs of, limited space
in the Palace of Westminster. Proposals with similar objectives
were advanced in the SSRB report of 2004 but rejected by the House.
106. We believe that some of the support which
many MPs need from their staff really has to be provided on site
in the House. So, while there may be a case for discouraging the
location of excessive numbers of staff in the House, we believe
that the idea of creating an incentive for MPs not to employ any
staff at all in Westminster is ill-conceived.
107. We are advised by the Department of Resources
that during the period (2002-05) when variable Staffing Allowances
did operate on the basis of numbers of employees based in London,
there was a degree of dispute, controversy and confusion, not
least where staff worked in both places at different times.
108. Elsewhere in its report the SSRB proposed
a reduction in the allocation of constituency office resources
in respect of each member of staff a Member employed at the House
of Commons. By proposing
further finance for London staff on the one hand, but reduced
constituency office resources in respect of Westminster-based
staff on the other, the SSRB could be saidin a senseto
be proposing giving with one hand but taking away with the other.
We believe that these recommendationsone increasing Members'
resources and the other reducing themshould be balanced
out and not implemented.
109. We recommend that the SSRB proposal that
Incidental Expenses Provision should be abated for every work
station in London should not be implemented.
110. We recommend that no further steps should
be taken to implement the SSRB proposal for a further increase
in the Staffing Allowance for each full-time equivalent member
of staff based in London.