'Election Covenant' proposed by Lib Dem
Northampton North's Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate, Andrew Simpson, has proposed an "electoral covenant" between candidates and voters in response to the scandal over MP's expenses.
Ahead of any recommendations from the Kelly Committee on Standards in Public Life, Mr Simpson has published "10 Parliamentary Pledges", which go much further than the limited measures put forward by MPs so far - and has called on his rivals to sign up to them too.
Mr Simpson said: "It's time for higher standards at Westminster. I am shocked at how many MPs employ family members for example. It's hard to see how this would happen under a properly open and fair recruitment process, based purely on job related criteria.
"We can't wait for 'the authorities' to sort this out - and I don't believe that improved reporting of expenses is enough. This is an area where prospective MPs can take a lead right now and I am challenging my General Election opponents to match all of these standards accordingly.
"The people of Northampton deserve an MP who can be trusted to be completely honest, fully accountable and not seeking election for their own personal gain. I believe this covenant meets that minimum requirement and I call upon all Northampton North candidates to sign up to it without delay."
Andrew Simpson's electoral covenant for Northampton North makes these 10 Parliamentary Pledges:
1. I will not employ family members at public expense under any circumstances.
2. I will advertise all publicly funded jobs in the local press. All jobs, whether London or constituency based, will be advertised in the local newspapers and open to all on the basis of merit, measured against objective criteria published on my website.
3. I will publish a list of all employees on my website. I will also publish the total salary bill for these employees. However, in order to respect individual privacy, I will not publish any individual salaries other than my own.
4. I will publish details of all my expense claims at least monthly on my website. No expenses will be claimed without a bona fide receipt and my accounts will be independently verified on an annual basis at my own expense. An annual report, including all my expense details, will be sent to every home in the constituency.
5. My main home will remain in Northampton and if possible I will try and commute to Parliament. If not possible then I will only make an expense claim where I am incurring genuinely additional costs in the service of my Northampton constituents. Even if there are rules that allow me to claim for food and other items while staying away from home, I will not do this. I will only claim for costs that are both extra and unavoidable in my work as your MP.
6. I will not accept any gifts, gratuities, entertainment or favour from lobbyists or anyone else who might be seeking to influence my opinion. Listing such things in the Register of Members' Interests is not good enough. I simply won't take them.
7. I will not take any other paid employment, directorship or consultancy beyond being Northampton North's full-time MP. I will gain understanding of the impact of legislation on businesses and on non-profit organisations as part of my role as your local MP.
8. I will maintain an accessible constituency office in Northampton and hold regular constituents' surgeries at accessible venues around the constituency.
9. If I have to maintain a second home for overnight accommodation in London then it will be furnished at my own expense. If bought with public funds, I will proportionately repay 100% of any unearned increase in value at the end of my term of office.
10. I will voluntarily submit myself for recall to the constituents of Northampton North upon receipt and verification of a petition of 20% of the local electorate (and following a Parliamentary censure). I will immediately resign as Northampton North's MP in such circumstances, initiating a by-election accordingly.
Mr Simpson also confirmed that he would continue to fight for "real and radical" constitutional reforms, including a fair voting system, a fully elected House of Lords and devolving more power to local authorities.