MPs ‘Berate And Bully’ Officials Over Expenses Claims

(Telegraph) – SIR STUART BELL, a member of the Members Estimates Committee (MEC), which oversees Commons expenses, told The Telegraph that there was an ‘incestuous’ culture over MPs’ allowances, which continued even after the paper’s disclosures.

Giving evidence to the Committee on Standards in Public Life, which is writing new rules on Commons expenses, Sir Stuart blamed widespread abuses of the system on practices and customs that grew up over decades.

‘The culture grew up (an incestuous culture between members and the fees office) where, even to this day, a member can berate and bully the fees office,’ he said.

The rules have been tightened, and many of the questionable claims of recent years should not be permitted under the new regime. Nonetheless, Sir Stuart said, Commons authorities were still ‘bedevilled by having to deal with appeals’ from MPs.

Many members were also understood to have put pressure on Commons officials over the blacking-out of expense documents, which were published last week.

MPs’ expenses claims are overseen by a dozen civil servants in the fees office of Parliament’s Department of Finance and Administration, which is supposed to enforce the rules on allowances.

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