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Members of Parliament (Salaries)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:27 pm on 26th July 1983.

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Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East 10:27 pm, 26th July 1983

Before I call upon the Leader of the House to move motion 8, I inform the House that I have selected the amendment of the right hon. Member for Worthing (Mr. Higgins).

Car Mileage Allowance
10.40 pm
Mr. Biffen: I beg to move,
That, in the opinion of this House, the rate of car mileage allowance payable to Members travelling on Parliamentary duties (and accordingly the rate applicable to the car mileage allowances payable in respect of journeys by the spouse of a Member and journeys by the persons in respect of whom the secretarial and research allowance of a Member is payable) should, for journeys commenced on or after 1st October 1983, continue to be 25·8p per mile, notwithstanding any change with effect from that date in the relevant Civil Service rate of car mileage allowance.
In this Resolution "the secretarial and research allowance" has the same meaning as in the Resolution of this House of 19th July 1983 (Office, Secretarial and Research etc. Allowances).
The purpose of the motion is to maintain the present flat rate system of the motor mileage allowance at the current rate of 25·8p a mile. The allowance is regulated by a resolution of the House that was agreed on 22 July 1975. It provides that the rate payable should be the same as the Civil Service rate for journeys made on official business. From 1 October a two-tier structure is to be introduced for the Civil Service mileage allowance, and the effect of the resolution of 22 July 1975 would be to apply the new arrangements automatically to Members. The motion will ensure that the status quo is maintained. It has been moved in response to the strong view that was expressed on 19 July. It was then argued that there should be further consideration of the Civil Service two-tier rate as an appropriate reflection of motoring costs incurred by Members.

The effect of the amendment of my right hon. Friend the Member for Worthing (Mr. Higgins) is to link the motor mileage allowance paid to hon. Members with the higher level of the two-tier rate that is now proposed for the Civil Service. It thus embodies the concept of automaticity while reflecting a concern that the Civil Service rate may rise as a result of cost increases before the House has an opportunity to consider further what the most appropriate future arrangements for Members should be.

It may help the House to know that I can accept my right hon. Friend's amendment on this basis. The Government are content that the motion, as amended, if the House approves it, should continue until such time as the House may decide on alternative arrangements in the light of the further consideration of the subject which is proposed. Meanwhile, I shall consult through the usual channels with a view to having the subject examined after the summer recess in a way that will enable Members to give evidence of their motoring costs. I stress that no change in the existing arrangements that are made secure by the motion can come about without the authority of the House.