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January 2013

 File n°17 

The M.P.s’ Allowances and Material Means

 

 

 

 

 

 

    Key Points

    The free exercise of the office of M.P. cannot be guaranteed alone by its legal independence. The parliamentary allowance, which is an essential element in the democratization of political regimes, is aimed at offsetting the expenses met in the carrying-out of office. It enables every citizen to imagine running for Parliament and guarantees those elected the means to devote all their energy, in total independence, to fulfilling the role for which they have been elected.

    The principle of indexing the parliamentary allowance to the salaries of high civil servants has been applied in France since 1938 and was confirmed by the ordinance attached to the Institutional Act no. 58-1210 of December 13, 1958. In addition, the necessary financial independence of the M.P., which for a long time was symbolised by the parliamentary allowance, has been strengthened, at the same time as the development of the means of the executive, by different individual and collective grants and benefits. This trend marks a growing professionalization in the carrying out of the office of M.P.

 

I. – PARLIAMENTARY ALLOWANCE

1. – The different elements of the allowance

The allowance includes three components: the basic parliamentary allowance, the residential allowance and the attendance allowance.

The basic parliamentary allowance is indexed to the salary of the highest-ranking state civil servants. It is equal to the mean of the lowest and highest salary of civil servants in the category “hors échelle” (highest level).

In addition, M.P.s receive, as civil servants do, a residential allowance. This represents 3% of the gross basic parliamentary allowance.

On top of this, M.P.s also receive an attendance allowance which is equal to a quarter of the sum of the first two allowances.

As of July, 1st, 2010, the gross monthly allowances are as follows:

      Basic allowance

5 514,68 €

      Residential allowance (3 %)

165,44 €

      Attendance allowance (25 % of the total)

1 420,03 €

      Gross monthly allowance

7 100,15 €

    From a tax point of view, the basic parliamentary allowance plus the residential allowance but not the attendance allowance, is taxable at the rates applicable to normal income.

    2. – Deductions from the allowance

    Most such deductions are obligatory and linked to social welfare schemes.

    Thus the following must be deducted from the gross monthly allowance:

      - Contributions to the pension scheme for the first fifteen years of office

1 299,00 €

      - Solidarity contribution

56,80 €

      - General social contribution and contribution to the reimbursement of the social debt

568,01 €

      - Contribution to the resource guarantee fund

27,57 €

      Net allowance

5 148,77 € .

    3. – The capping of allowances linked to local office

    In the case of a combination of the parliamentary allowance and allowances linked to other offices, the principle of a general ceiling was introduced by Institutional Act no. 92-175 of February 25, 1992. An M.P. with local elected offices may only combine the allowances linked to these offices with the basis parliamentary allowance of his parliamentary office within a limit of one and a half times the latter. Such allowances have a ceiling today fixed at €2 757.34 per month for an M.P.

    II. – MATERIAL MEANS AVAILABLE TO M.P.S

    Certain individual means have been created to enable M.P.s to carry out their office according to their individual needs.

    1. – Operational and secretarial expenses

    In order to meet the expenses linked to the exercise of their office which are not directly covered or reimbursed by the National Assembly, M.P.s have an operational expenses allowance which increases in line with rises in civil service salaries. As of January, 1st 2013, this gross monthly allowance represents € 5 770.

    In addition M.P.s may have a Parliamentary staff allowance. Although this allowance is calculated on a basis of three assistants, it may, depending on the M.P., cover the salaries of up to five people. The M.P. is in fact the employer: he recruits, lays off, and fixes both the work conditions and the salaries of his staff.

    The allowance allotted to each M.P. is indexed to pay rises in the civil service. The monthly amount of this allocation was € 9 504 as of January 1st 2013.

    In the case of non-use of the entire allocation, the remainder returns to the budget of the National Assembly or may be donated by the M.P. to his political group in order to cover the salaries of those employed by the group.

    2. – Transport benefits

    To facilitate rail travel throughout the national territory of France the National Assembly provides all M.P.s who so request with a nominal card which gives them free access to:

      1. The entire national railway network in first class;

      2. Couchette and sleeping car services linked to travel within the borders of continental France.

    For travel within Paris and the Parisian area, the National Assembly has a car-pool of around twenty vehicles with chauffeurs which the M.P.s may use subject to their availability and when such travel is linked to their position as M.P. and made to and from the Palais Bourbon within Paris and to airports. These vehicles are also used for travel involving official delegations and for travel required by legislative work. In addition, the National Assembly uses Parisian taxis when the car-pool is not able to fulfil all the M.P.s’ requests. The expenses linked to the use of taxis in Paris or to Parisian airports by M.P.s in the performance of their office are reimbursed within an annual ceiling upon the presentation of invoices. If an M.P. requests so, the National Assembly can provide a non-transferable card giving him free access to the Parisian transport system of the RATP.

    As regards air travel, the National Assembly covers each year:

      -1. For M.P.s from continental France:

          - 80 trips between Paris and the constituency in the case of a regular air connection.

          - 12 trips in continental France, outside of the constituency.

      -2. For overseas M.P.s :

          a. An annual allocation equal to, for M.P.s from overseas departments and Mayotte, the cost of 26 trips in ‘business class’ between Paris and the constituency and, for overseas M.P.s elected for a community of the Pacific, the cost of 16 trips in first class between Paris and the constituency;

          b. 8 trips within continental France.

    3. – Office and communication means

    Furthermore M.P.s have certain other material benefits aimed at making the exercise of their office easier.

    a) Office

    Each M.P. has an individual office in the Palais Bourbon or in one of its annexes.

    b) Computers

    M.P.s have the right to training in the use of computers and to a computer allowance. They have access to Internet, to electronic mail and to a certain number of legal and economic databases.

    c) Telephone and Fax

    All communications to the entire continental France and overseas territories network, as well as the member states of the European Union and mobile telephone networks, from the telephones in the M.P.s’ offices in the Palais Bourbon are covered by the National Assembly. This is also the case for all messages transmitted by fax machines available to M.P.s.

    The M.P.s may also ask to take advantage of a special communication package which covers, within the parliamentary telephone allowance, the costs of five telephone lines (land or mobile) and one internet subscription or four telephone lines and two internet subscriptions.

    d) Postal Mail

    All parliamentary mail, i.e. written by an M.P. in the carrying-out of his office, is covered by the National Assembly.

    However, all private correspondence as well as correspondence of a general or collective nature (invitations, announcements, business cards, printed matter, tracts, brochures, newsletters etc.) is not covered by the postage allowance.

    4. – Food expenses

    There are two restaurants available to M.P.s.: one is strictly reserved for them and the second enables them to invite guests. The cost is covered by the M.P.s themselves.

    5. – Other benefits

    a) Family Benefit

    M.P.s may also receive family benefits which are the equivalent of those paid by the general social security scheme.

    b) Allocation for Return to Work

    M.P.s who are not re-elected at general elections may receive an allocation for help in returning to work. This allocation is equivalent to the difference between a percentage, which decreases with time, of the parliamentary allowance and the overall income earned by the former M.P., including allowances linked to the performance of his local offices, with the exception of family benefits. This allocation, which is paid over a maximum period of three years, is financed by a contribution paid by M.P.s in office.

    III. – PENSION AND SOCIAL SECURITY SCHEME

    1. – Social security

    M.P.s must be affiliated to the National Assembly social security scheme which was set up by the Bureau in 1948 and is managed by a committee made up of the three Questeurs and a representative of each of the political groups. This scheme provides sickness and maternity benefits in kind and attributes a lump sum (or allocations) in the case of death.

    2. – Pensions

    The M.P.s’ pension scheme, which was set up by a resolution of the Chamber of Deputies on December 23, 1904 is funded by a contribution provided by the parliamentary allowance and by a subvention included in the budget of the National Assembly.

    Pensions are calculated according to the number of years of contribution although it must be made clear that M.P.s provide a double contribution during their first fifteen years of office.

    Pensions rights are opened at 60 years of age. The average age at which M.P.s activate their pension is 65 years of age. The pension is calculated on a pro rata of the number of annual contributions made. This number has a ceiling which is gradually being raised to reach forty-one annual contributions in 2012.

    The current net monthly pension for an M.P. is €2 700.