They don\’t like it up \’em, do they?

MPs not on the committee packed into a public gallery to heckle and even swear at IPSA staff, who in May took over responsibility for expenses from the discredited Commons fees office.

During heated exchanges over IPSA’s request for £6.46 million of funding, one MP at the back of the room was heard saying “b——”.

Members of the committee, chaired by John Bercow, the Speaker, were also highly critical of Sir Ian Kennedy and Andrew McDonald, the chairman and chief executive of IPSA, demanding that MPs be issued with credit cards to use for their expenses rather than being forced to submit receipts.

Among those making clear their anger at the tougher rules was Labour’s Phil Woolas, who made expenses claims for his wife’s cosmetics.

Bob Russell, a Liberal Democrat MP, told Sir Ian Kennedy, the head of IPSA: “I would like to say nice words about IPSA but you head the most inefficient organisation I have known in nearly 40 years of public office.”

Being treated the way government treats the rest of us just doesn\’t seem to suit, does it?

If I might make a modest suggestion? We should scour the entire administrative system for the most outrageous, jobsworthy, form filling, self contradictory rules there are. For the absolutely worst examples of rude, crude and unhelpful staff. And run the MPs\’ expenses office on the very worst of those rules and with the most objectionable of those staff.

For example, to claim for housing, MPs would have to provide detailed and accurate maps just as farmers do. With 90 page forms (or whatever it is that farmers have to use). These would be processed using a new computer system, payments would be at least 12 and possibly 24 months late. Hey, go borrow from a bank if you\’ve cash flow problems.

Last years\’ maps would not be acceptable of course, new ones must be drawn up each year. For England might have moved you know. Or you might have sold a hedge to a neighbour. And anyway, we\’ll have lost last year\’s.

Claims for travel would be processed using the Jobseekers\’ system. Processed by Jobcenter staff. That would keep them all at Westminster, wouldn\’t it?

Please do add further refinements to this in the comments, for we do want to get this absolutely right. MPs should and must be subjected to exactly the same rules and bureaucracies that the rest of us are. Which will mean that either they are unable to do anything at all, as we tangled in the red tape find ourselves, or, well, there is just the remotest possibility that they\’ll understand some of what they impose upon us and do something about it.

Maybe.

12 thoughts on “They don\’t like it up \’em, do they?”

  1. “Bob Russell, a Liberal Democrat MP, told Sir Ian Kennedy, the head of IPSA: “I would like to say nice words about IPSA but you head the most inefficient organisation I have known in nearly 40 years of public office.””

    He needs to get out more!

  2. Brian, follower of Deornoth

    MPs employ people? So they should do all their employees’ tax returns, just like the private sector have to. They could hire someone to do it, and if so they pay for it out of their own wages.

  3. I’m a farmer and I’ve been waiting over 6 months for my agricultural subsidy cheque. They are statutorily required to pay by the end of June, its the first of July and guess what? No money.

    Perhaps the MPs would like to wait that long for their money too.

  4. Lovely idea – makes me smile just at the thought of it. Let’s add making them use public transport and fly cattle class – unless they want to make up the difference out of their own pockets. Oh – and international conferences about poverty should take place in slums, no? Not enforceable, of course…

  5. True…but 6.4m for a body that overseas the expenses of 650 people does seem rather a lot.

    Our HR department doesn’t cost that much, and they fire people too.

  6. The Pedant-General

    Oooh! I’ve got one.

    cf Tax credits. IPSA randomly generates a view of what it thinks MP should be claiming in the following year and – here’s the good bit – adjusts his tax code accordingly.

    Then, two years later, it decides that actually shouldn’t have given the MP that much and makes an instant demand for repayment in cash.

    Yay!

  7. MPs dinner and food claims to be processed by the Department of Health, who will scrutinise that they’re staying below their 21 units (other, non-claimed receipts will also be required), not eating too much salt and have regularly had their 5 a day. Each item on the receipt must be marked with the nutritional information from the packet.

  8. Two small suggestions:

    Firstly, all MPs should be required to produce their passport and two utility bills each and every time before any expenses are paid. We must be sure there is absolutely no money laundering going on.

    Secondly, as groups of children are frequently seen visiting the House of Conmen all MPs will need full CRB/background checks – at their own cost. Of course the check for their main role will not apply for any/all committee posts or other Parliamentary roles they may have and separate vetting will be needed each time, again at their expense.

  9. Brian, follower of Deornoth

    If expense-account drink is consumed in their expense-account properties, they must of course hold an on-licence.

  10. How about IPSA make retroactive changes to the rules every time anybody manages to successfully claim – a bit like HMRC. And that IPSA staff are not responsible for any advice they give MPs (again like HMRC).

  11. Firstly, all MPs should be required to produce their passport and two utility bills each and every time before any expenses are paid. We must be sure there is absolutely no money laundering going on.

    Ha ha! Love it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *