Belfast Telegraph

Ipsa to be asked to assess proposals on MLA expenses

Parliamentary watchdog Ipsa is to be asked to quality assure new beefed-up expenses guidelines for Stormont Assembly members.

The Assembly Commission, which oversees the running of the devolved institution in Belfast, will request that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority examines proposals to strengthen current procedures.

The move comes in the wake of recent controversies surrounding elements of the existing expenses system.

The Assembly has found itself at odds with Northern Ireland's Independent Financial Review Panel over whether a £150,000 contract payment should have been made in 2012.

Another furore was created by an Ipsa review of expenses arrangements at Stormont, undertaken last September, that raised some concerns about apparent informal routes by which MLAs had been able to challenge declined expenses payments.

Members of the Assembly Commission met for 90 minutes in Parliament Buildings to discuss the issues on Wednesday.

During discussions, they agreed to ask Ipsa to assess planned amendments to the MLA handbook on expenses.

The commission, which comprises Speaker Mitchel McLaughlin and five other MLAs, will also ask Ipsa to "review" the findings of its own September report.

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