Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Call for MP expenses 'principles'

Tough expenses rules for MPs could be abandoned in favour of a set of 'principles' and scrutiny by voters
Sir Ian Kennedy has said he will not resign as chairman of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority

Tight expenses rules for MPs should be abandoned in favour of a set of "principles" and scrutiny by voters, the watchdog in charge of the regime suggests.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) said a looser system where politicians took responsibility for justifying their spending to the public would be "simpler" and provide "value for money".

The prospect of a gradual shift could help soothe MPs who are furious over the bureaucracy and costcutting imposed in the wake of the expenses scandal that rocked Westminster.

Last month David Cameron condemned the rules as "anti-family" and warned that they had to change, while backbenchers have been openly calling for the watchdog's chairman Sir Ian Kennedy to quit.

However, there is bound to be concern at the idea of easing restrictions, with research suggesting that only a third of the public trust MPs to file legitimate claims.

A public consultation published by Ipsa floated a number of improvements to the existing scheme, including allowing scores of outer London MPs to claim for running second homes again.

The document suggested funding more travel for MPs' families and increasing the £130-a-night limit on hotels.

But it also raised the prospect that a less rigid system could be introduced in the longer term, with MPs "justifying their own decisions".

Instead of detailed rules, there would be "an expenses scheme based more on a set of principles which do not attempt to cover every eventuality".

"It will need a decision that a system that is easy to understand is preferable to a larger rule book which seeks certainty but necessarily falls short of delivering it," the consultation said.

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz