Parliament Sitting

Members of the National Assembly during a past sitting in Nairobi. MPs have  come up with a new list of demands they want implemented and paid for by taxpayers

| File I Nation Media Group

MPs plot to demand millions for more luxuries, perks

What you need to know:

  • They want a fully-equipped wellness centre, staffed by a registered nurse at all times, for their exclusive use.
  • The legislators want the menus in the canteen at Parliament Buildings to be rotated on a monthly basis “in order to give members options.”

MPs have come up with new proposals to further increase the taxpayer-funded luxuries they enjoy, including gyms available for their use in all cities in Kenya, in addition to year-round access to private member clubs of their choosing and more lavish meals.

The legislators also want the menus in the canteen at Parliament Buildings to be rotated on a monthly basis “in order to give members options.”

Further, they want a fully-equipped wellness centre, staffed by a registered nurse at all times, for their exclusive use.

In the proposals tabled on Wednesday by the Members’ Services and Facilities Committee, MPs also want a health cover for all retired MPs, who they said were suffering after their terms.

The report tabled by the committee chairperson Stephen Wachira (Laikipia West, UDA) came after a visit to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, referred to as the House of Commons.

The MPs that travelled to UK include Feisal Bader (Msambweni) who was the leader of the delegation, Paul Abuor (Rongo), Ruth Odinga (Kisumu), Elisha Odhiambo (Gem) and Brighton Yegon (Konoin).

The purpose of the visit, according to the report, was for the committee to meet with their counterparts responsible for members services and facilities matters in the UK, with a view to familiarise with their mandate and operations.

The legislators in the report argued for MPs’ access to private member clubs around the country “to enable MPs access health club and recreational facilities while they are within or away from Nairobi City.” This is in addition to such existing membership.

“That the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) to negotiate with private member clubs around the country and facilitate payments of membership fees to members’ preferred clubs to enable members access health club and recreational facilities while they are away or within Nairobi city,” reads part of the report.

This proposal came up after the committee noted in their tour that the House of Commons has a gym for MPs with professional staff to assist in training and workouts. They also have contracted gyms countrywide to offer subsidised rates to MPs and their staff at the constituency level with the main aim of creating a healthy parliament.

A sample of membership fees by some of the private clubs that the committee wants their employees to enrol MPs on indicate that they charge an arm and leg as entry fees and subscription fee.

For instance, at Nairobi Club, the full membership fee is an average of Sh465,000 with an annual subscription fee of Sh31, 500.

Therefore, should PSC pay for 416 MPs annually at this club or any other of the same level, for instance, it will pay Sh206, 544,000.

This translates to Sh826, 176,000 in the remaining four years of the life of the 13th parliament.

If they subscribe the MPs to clubs across the country, the figure will run into billions of shillings.

At Limuru Country Club, corporate membership which parliament is likely to settle on should they decide to implement the recommendations of the report, is Sh304, 000, and development levy fee of Sh48, 000. In addition, there is an annual subscription of Sh34, 000.

At United Kenya club, country members pay Sh80, 000 as entry fee which is paid once and a subscription of Sh11, 500, development levy Sh20, 000

At Eldoret Club, there are different membership categories but full members who enjoy all the rights and privileges pay Sh50, 000 and Sh200, 000 development levy paid by all new members.

In addition, there is an account deposit of Sh10, 000.

The committee also wants PSC contract gyms in cities across the country to offer services to MPs at a subsidised rate so that lawmakers can access gym services while they are away from the precincts of Parliament.

MPs currently have a state-of-the art gym with trainers at the Continental House where the offices of the lawmakers are located.

The committee also wants a well-equipped wellness centre set up within the new Bunge towers, and  a professional nurse who will offer services and advice to MPs.

During its visit, the committee observed that the parliament of the United Kingdom provides health and wellbeing services to its members within parliament. The health and wellness department provides medical support and services to its members.

The services include general check-up, vaccinations and overseas travel advisories and also offer minor treatment services.

In the UK, the committee noted in its report that they have a general practitioner on site who sees MPs for consultations and offers full triage services to MPs and parliament staff.

According to the report, the committee wants formulation of a health cover for retired MPs saying that the health of the majority of their colleagues deteriorates upon leaving parliament.

Currently, MPs who did not make it to Parliament are not provided any medical cover by the PSC but receive pension based on the number of terms served.

The medical cover however ends with the elapsing of the term of parliament for those who fail to make it back.

The lawmakers also want the catering services in Parliament to improve on their menu and offer a variety of food to MPs in order to avoid what they termed as monotony of what is currently being offered.

They want the menu rotated monthly and have the buffet menu with members’ choice of different types of food.

The MPs noted that in the UK, the administration committee which is equivalent to the member’s services and facilities in Kenya sits with the catering department and together they come up with a rotating menu on a monthly basis in order to give members options.

According to the report, the chairperson of the committee will also sit in the Parliamentary Service Commission on members’ welfare to present the concerns of MPs to their employer.

In addition, the committee now wants an office with an officer attached to it from the secretariat of the constituency liaison office.

The office, according to the report, will be responsible for receiving the views of members verbally, through questionnaires, letters or through emails.

The committee argues that the creation of the office will provide it with a feedback mechanism from members in order to allow it to exercise its mandate fully.

The committee also wants the constituency liaison office to conduct regular surveys digitally or through calls with the constituency managers in order to get challenges faced by MPs while in the constituency and raise them with the management.

If passed, heads of departments offering services to MPs will also be required to attend meetings of the members’ services and facilities committee.

The committee undertook a study visit to the United Kingdom Parliament, House of Commons from May 6 to 13, 2023 with five MPs traveling for the assignment.

The Members’ Services and Facilities Committee is mandated under Standing Orders to provide facilities and services to streamline the effective functioning of parliament and provide a forum through which MPs channel their views on their welfare to their employer.

In discharging its mandate, it considers matters such as car park facilities, ICT services, office space allocated to members, catering and hospitality services, health club services and facilities and members’ facilitation to travel to Nairobi and other constituencies and counties.

While in the UK, the committee met with the administration committee of the House of Commons and held meetings with members’ services team.

The delegation also held meetings with the Human Resources services team of the House of Commons and ICT department of parliament of the UK.

The Kenyan delegation also had an opportunity to attend the Prime Minister's question time in the chambers of the House of Commons and also had a guided tour of Westminster Palace that Houses the House of Commons and House of Lords.

The committee held its first meeting with Ms Lynn Gardner who is the Head of Inter-parliamentary relations who took them through the background of the UK Parliament and a tour of the Westminster palace.

The Kenyan delegation also had a meeting with the head of well-being department Josie Lazenby and Ms Tanya Harris who according to the report are all trained nurses and work for the House of Common.

The MPs were told that the department does a general check-up of the UK MPs such as blood pressure, stress levels, blood sugar and cholesterol.

The UK well-being department also provides vaccinations and overseas travel advisories for MPs, annual flu vaccines are also administered within parliament.

In addition, the Kenyan delegation was told that the well-being department in the UK also offers advice and guidance to members who feel unwell and provide minor treatment services.

The committee also met with Charles Walker, who is also the chairperson of the administration committee which is responsible for hospitality and catering services of MPs in the UK parliament.

Mr Walker informed the Kenyan delegation that they meet weekly on Mondays when the House is in session and on notice when the House is in recess.

The Kenyan delegation further met with Lydia Smith and Lara Alexander Lloyd who are members of the staff engagement team and are responsible for collecting views from MPs and staff on services offered, and what needs to be improved or abandoned.

The team informed the Kenyan delegation that they normally conduct regular road shows in different constituencies to offer support and to network.