New Expenses System Will Not Be In Place Before Election

(Telegraph) – THE NEW MPS’ EXPENSES SYSTEM aimed at cleaning up the House of Commons will be delayed until after the general election.

The disclosure sparked accusations last night that MPs and the Parliamentary authorities are attempting to put off the introduction of the reforms to MPs’ expenses and allowances.

Downing Street has confirmed that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), the body charged with implementing the new system, will not start work until April at the earliest.

But sources close to IPSA have disclosed that the planning is all centred on starting the new system with a new parliament after the general election.

If, as expected the election is not held until May or June, it means it is likely to be a full year between The Daily Telegraph exposing the expenses scandal and the new regulated system being put in place.

It had been hoped there would be tangible evidence for voters at the election to see that MPs had learned the lessons of the expenses scandal.

The standards authority was created in response to public anger at the disclosures about widespread abuse of the system.

It will be charged with imposing the recommendations put forward in a report by Sir Christopher Kelly into MPs’ expenses to be unveiled tomorrow.

There will be a ‘fresher’s week’ style introduction for MPs in how the system will work, including training on how members will have to file their expenses online after years of using antiquated paper forms for claims through the Commons fees office.

But the slow lead-time to the expenses system reforms has lead to concern from some MPs and the party leaderships who are desperate for the crisis to be dealt with.

Mark Todd, a backbench Labour MP, said he feared the decision to defer a final decision on MPs’ expenses to IPSA meant the scandal would drag on for months.

He told the BBC’s World at One: ‘The main worry is that IPSA does not exist and it will be a significant process to establish it and recruit the people who will work for it.’

The new chairman of IPSA is expected to be appointed this week. The longer process of identifying and recruiting the four other board members will then be stepped up Sources at IPSA said that the full panel could be in place by the end of the year.

But last night confusion continued to surround the exact timetable for the formation of the new, independent expenses watchdog, which replaces the discredited Commons fees office.

MPs will have the final say over the choice of candidate to become chairman of IPSA by voting whether or not to approve the person selected by the Speaker, John Bercow, and a committee of senior MPs.

A government source insisted that Mr Bercow’s choice would be ‘nodded through.’

But the delay raises the prospect that newly elected MPs who had recently been given a five-year mandate and were therefore not under as much pressure from the electorate could feel able to select a non-reforming head for IPSA.

Critics have also raised alarm at the prospect of leaving the decision to the small group of ‘establishment’ MPs selected last week to serve alongside John Bercow, the Speaker, to serve on the committee to choose the new chairman.

They include Harriet Harman, the Leader of the House, her shadow, Sir George Young, and Sir Stuart Bell, a Labour backbencher who led the attempt to block the publication of MPs expenses.

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One Response

  1. What did I say? Well done Brown? I must have been living in cloud cuckoo land!

    This is scandalous and disgraceful!

    They are all going to get away with it aren’t they? If the IPSA won’t be up and running until the new parliament – who is going to prevent all those carpet baggers from getting those parachute payments? Or do we expect them all to hand it back when asked?

    Bercow’s small clique has effectively stuffed the electorate and it seems there is nothing anyone can do about it.

    Are we really going to let them get away with it?

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