MPs rail against expenses body

Frustration with IPSA, the body set up in the wake of the MPs expenses scandal, came to the fore today, as new expenses details were published. IPSA is facing more criticism, including from Leader of the House Sir George Young. He said that the body was “at best distracting, and at worst impeding, MPs from doing their job”. His Conservative colleague, Penny Mordaunt MP (Portsmout North,) has said that the new expenses system meant that she ended up with just £22 over Christmas. The Prime Minister David Cameron has given IPSA until the spring to sort itself out, but its Chair Sir Ian Kennedy is defiant, telling the BBC’s News at 6 that IPSA would operate and change at its own pace.

There will undoubtedly be little public sympathy for MPs who claim to be hard up, but Caroline Flint was right when she said a while ago “it shouldn’t only be millionaires and geeks that can become MPs”. It goes without saying the expenses system required a huge overhaul, but the only way a system for MPs can work is if both MPs and the public feel it is fair and accountable. It does not serve the public interest if MPs are distracted or prevented from carrying out their duties due to the expenses system. Being an MP is a privilege not a punishment, and any system of reimbursement must strike that balance of accountability and usability.

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