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.