18 Nov 2010

Public expected to be upset if MPs get pay rise - Speaker

4:31 pm on 18 November 2010

The Speaker of the House says the public will be very upset if MPs get a pay rise to compensate for their travel entitlements being scrapped.

A new scheme to fund MPs travelling overseas on legitimate Parliamentary business will be established after Dr Lockwood Smith scrapped the international rebate for personal travel.

Mr Smith says that in the last two years $9600 every year has been taken from every MP to pay for the travel entitlement.

He told Morning Report that he hopes this amount will not go back into MPs' pay packets following its scrapping, but said it's up to the Remuneration Authority to decide.

Dr Smith said the perception of MPs' travel entitlements was damaging to Parliament and its scrapping was inevitable.

National MP Simon Bridges who came into Parliament at the last election, says he supports getting rid of the entitlement.

He says MPs need to be careful with business travel to make sure they do everything to uphold public confidence in parliament.

New scheme for legitimate travel

A new scheme to fund MPs traveling overseas on legitimate Parliamentary business will be established after the Speaker of the House scrapped the international rebate for personal travel.

Dr Lockwood Smith announced the move after meeting senior MPs from each political party.

A Radio New Zealand political reporter says there has been cross party support for ending the travel perk for sitting MPs and momentum has been building following the resignation of Cabinet minister Pansy Wong over misuse of the entitlement.

Dr Smith says it is important MPs can travel on legitimate Parliamentary business because it builds skills and experience.

He says former MPs will still have access to discounted travel.

Dr Smith says he will ask the Parliamentary Service to develop a scheme that is for Parliamentary business only, has an approval process with appropriate controls and is transparent and accountable.

Review call

The Green Party is calling for an independent body to be established to review the entire system for MP's allowances and expenses.

But Dr Smith says that's something that will be considered by the Law Commission which is reviewing the Civil List Act which deals with the remuneration of MPs and ministers.

The Green Party also urges the Remuneration Authority not to raise MPs' pay in response to the decision.

The authority takes the travel allowance into account when setting salaries and is due to issue its next pay determination before Christmas.

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei says MPs are already paid well enough and don't need to be compensated for losing the travel entitlement.

Prime Minister John Key has also repeated his call for the authority to give MPs a modest increase, or none at all.