Revised system of expense allowances for Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas
A major reform of the system of expense allowances for members of the Houses of the Oireachtas was announced today.
The reforms, proposed by the Oireachtas Commission and agreed by the Minister for Finance, have cross-Party support. They will substantially increase the transparency of the allowances system and provide information to members of the public on how their public representatives are funded.
The new system will replace 40 years of legislation with a single, transparent and verifiable parliamentary allowance system to cover the parliamentary and representation costs of Deputies, Senators and Ministers. This major reform is in addition to the substantial reductions imposed on Oireachtas members’ expenses in 2009.
Reductions which have already been made to Oireachtas expenses include:
Mileage allowance reduced by 25%
Overnight Allowance reduced by 10%
Daily Travel Allowance reduced by 10%
Constituency Office Allowance reduced by 10%
Constituency Travel Allowance reduced by 10%
Miscellaneous Expense Allowance reduced by 10%
Telephone Allowance reduced by 10%
Committee Chairpersons allowance reduced by 50%
Committee Vice Chairpersons and whips allowance abolished
Chairpersons of Sub-Committees allowance abolished
Furthermore, Oireachtas members who are former office-holders have had their pensions reduced by 25% and from the start of the next Dáil and Seanad no serving member will be eligible to receive a ministerial pension. Members no longer qualify for long service increments and those currently in receipt of them will forfeit them from the start of the next Dáil and Seanad.
The new expenses system will replace a number of individual expenses by a Single Parliamentary Allowance which will have two strands as follows:
Ř A Travel and Accommodation allowance; and
Ř A Public Representation Allowance
Payments in respect of travel and accommodation will be set in bands based on travelling distance from Leinster House, verified by attendance recording and be subject to a minimum attendance requirement in Leinster House, which does not include the extensive constituency work of Members. The allowances are based on civil service rates for mileage and overnight costs.
Where a member exceeds the minimum unvouched amounts for the Public Representation Allowance, he or she will be required to vouch in full for the amount claimed and these claims will also be subject to random audit.
Payments made to members of the Oireachtas will be published on a monthly basis.
The Regulations to introduce the new system will be signed by the Minister to come into effect from 1 March 2010.
Details of the new system are in the appendix.
Summary of the proposed new system of
Expenses Allowances for members of the Oireachtas
There will be two strands to the Parliamentary Standard Allowance as follows:
Ř Travel and accommodation allowance and
Ř Public Representation Allowance.
1 Travel and Accommodation Allowance
This will be a single amount covering the costs of travel to/from Leinster House, overnights where applicable and, in the case of TDs, constituency travel. The proposed annual amounts will vary depending on the distance of a residence from Leinster House.
Amounts to be paid
In the case of TDs, the amounts range from €12,000 per annum for Dublin Deputies to €37,850 for those living 360 km or more from Leinster House. Senators will be paid a reduced amount as there are no payments for constituency travel. The amounts will vary from €7,000 pa for Dublin based Senators to €32,850 pa for those 360km or more from Leinster House.
Verification by attendance
Payment of this allowance will be verified by attendance at Leinster House including attendance at Committees. 80% of the requisite 150 days (i.e. 120 days) will be the requirement for full payment. Where attendance is below this, members will have to make a refund of 1% of the allowance payable for each day below 120. Exceptions will be made for absences due to matters such as sick leave and foreign travel that preclude attendance.
2 Public Representation Allowance
The purposes for which this allowance may be used will include expenses related to constituency offices, mobile phones, home telephones, newspaper advertising, distribution of leaflets, newsletters, costs of relevant conferences and other engagements related to duties as a public representative, hire of rooms, replacement of equipment and web hosting and design. Expenses related to constituency offices and equipment will not apply to Senators; they may claim for newspaper advertising, distribution of leaflets, newsletters, hire of rooms and conferences and other engagements related to their duties as a public representative.
Amounts to be paid.
TDs may receive an un-vouched amount of €15,000 per annum or a fully vouched amount up to €25,700 per annum. Senators will have an un-vouched amount of €9,250 per annum and a vouched amount of up to €15,000 per annum.
Ministers will receive an un-vouched amount of €12,000 per annum or a fully vouched amount up to €20,000 per annum.
The one-off grant towards the cost of setting up a constituency office (€8,000) will be retained in the new system. This is not payable to Senators.
If a Deputy claims more than €15,000 (€9,250 for Senators) the amount claimed must be fully vouched. The claim may be subject to audit.
This applies to the Public Representation Allowance where a member claims above the unvouched limits. In these cases the member will be responsible for retaining all receipts and vouchers for inspection, if required. At least 10% of members may be audited each year.
The allowance will be paid monthly in arrears.
Provision of Pre-Paid Envelopes (Postal Facilities)
The limits for envelopes will be reduced from 1,750 to 1,500 in the case of TDs and to 1,000 in the case of Senators.
The existing options will continue to be available to members under this allowance, with the exception of the provision where Deputies can combine to employ a higher level staff member. The purposes for which the allowance may be used is being defined and will be confined to the purchase of secretarial assistance, public relations, information technology (but not web related) and training services from a person employed under a contract of service or the purchase of such services under a contract for service, including any applicable tax and social insurance costs.
Purchase of equipment or expenses for which the Public Representation Allowance is intended will not be allowable under the Secretarial Allowance.