Friday, 27 August 2010

Tom Harris on IPSA

We asked for it and we got it in the form of IPSA. Yet our servants (elected politicians) don't like it. Tom Harris says he doesn't want to be on Newsnight and wants to get on with his job. Was he issued with a subpoena to appear? Aren't Newsnight's guests paid?

Mr Harris says none of his colleagues knew logs were being kept of MPs' conversations with IPSA staff. Does that matter? One of my readers asked earlier today if I had any knowledge about David Cameron re-affirming the Wilson Doctrine. I can't find any record to say he has done so. Why would he need to? Why must MPs have a special status that excludes them from being subject to matters that concern the safety of staff?

I can think of many agencies, both private and public, who tell me when I phone that 'this call may be recorded for training purposes'. We have no choice other than to 'opt in' if we wish to talk to anyone.

MPs should not be treated any differently. The anger seems to be that the MPs weren't informed IPSA were keeping logs. Would the knowledge have improved their behaviour? Possibly. But it's of much greater interest to the public to hear just how MPs are reluctant to change where their finances are concerned.

My advice to IPSA is keep going. Many businesses have computerised expenses systems these days and if MPs are lacking basic computer skills the problem is theirs, not IPSA's.


JuliaM said...

"Mr Harris says none of his colleagues knew logs were being kept of MPs' conversations with IPSA staff. Does that matter?"

Hey, what's that phrase they always liked to trot out when announcing some new illiberal legislative nightmare? Something about 'Nothing to hide, nothing to fear..' wasn't it?

Apogee said...

Seems they still think they can get away with doing what they like, that they are above the common man. Time they remembered where they came from, very soon they could be back there.

JRB said...

Once again, the old adage – Two wrongs don’t make a right - holds true.

We have all known for months that the scandal that is MPs expenses needs reform and control.

However IPSA is the sad and totally inappropriate concoction of some, less than enthusiastic, committee. It is respected by no one and as much use as a chocolate fire-guard.

If they wish a computerised expenses system then bring in a commercial organisation that knows what it is doing and can do it efficiently and effectively, and get rid of the Whitehall farce that is IPSA.

subrosa said...

That's it Julia.

subrosa said...

Power Apogee, can do strange things to people's characters.

subrosa said...

Morning John. I'd disagree as I've heard some MPs saying they've had no problem with it, yet others are of your opinion.

What certainly is needed is a computer system and if MPs can't use a computer in this day and age then they should be in the job. How do they carry out their work if they have no basic computer skills?

The system may need reforming as anything which is introduced too quickly does. I'd agree that a private company should take over. They'd deal with the technophobes.

Mind you, all that doesn't warrant bad manners. Years ago the Westminster scene consisted mainly of mannerable people. Now it appears it's quite the opposite.

Demetrius said...

The MP's should count themselves lucky. I did volunteer to take it over for a tenth the cost and with a limited staff of hand picked persons to ensure very firm control. I suspect the MP's could have had a much rougher time of it if the persons I had in mind had done the job.

Dioclese said...

After 25 years in the business working on a lot of government IT systems I have yet to find one that was either intuitive or worked properly.
MP lacking computer skills? What a pathetic excuse
The system is crap? That I can relate to...
Getting consultants in will only make it worse as they have a vested interest in delivering underperforming systems so that they can flog maintenance contracts and upgrades. They don't have the skills required either as they hire in self employed contractors en masse.
A firm hand and kick up the backside is what is required here.

Joe Public said...

Why should they 'need' a new computer system?

If they don't understand it, they either refrain from claiming; or, it proves they haven't the intelligence to be competent MPs.

[Why is it they seem to find it difficult to understand a claiming system, yet have no trouble in trying to justify every tenuous claim?]

"remis" - So very nearly an apt wv

subrosa said...

Demetrius, I think you may have had a luck escape.

subrosa said...

Dioclese, you're not the first to say that IT systems are dreadful.

I'm angry to hear the business of private companies underperforming still goes on. I argued about that years ago because it's really a form of fraud.

The wee darlings are upset because someone logged their calls. Maybe that will be a lesson to them to be more polite.

subrosa said...

I'm beginning to wonder if they are competent Joe. Have seen little in the way of competence so far, although it's early days. Mind you, I've heard enough waffle.

Strathturret said...

I'm hearing that some MPS are owed several thousand pounds due to IPSA's incompetence. Its a mess.

subrosa said...

I'm hearing that's because IPSA now pay expenses in arrears rather than advance Strathturret. What business gives expenses in advance? They're only having to wait a matter of a couple of weeks at most and the thousands you speak of involve office rents etc. Surely they've enough money in their bankies to pay for the very short time.

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