4 Nov 2010

Speaker backs down on travel disclosures for MPs

9:03 am on 4 November 2010

The Speaker of the House has backed down on his earlier decision to keep secret the details of international travel rebates claimed by MPs and their spouses.

Lockwood Smith had argued last week that MPs have money deducted from their total salary to cover the cost of the rebate, so he considered that they had paid for it out of their own private funds.

MPs who have served more than one term can claim the rebate, which starts at 5% and rises to 90% for MPs who have served four or more terms.

Party leaders, including that of his own National Party, Prime John Key, criticised the Speaker's move to keep the details secret as unnecessary, and a return to a less transparent regime.

Labour and the Greens have voluntarily released the details for their parties' MPs.

Dr Smith says those releases have caused confusion and from now the regular expense disclosures will include what individual MPs have claimed on the rebate.

He says he couldn't allow the risk of political game-playing and released the actual information to avoid any confusion.

But Labour's leader, Phil Goff says it is more likely due to the lukewarm political response to his decision.