Sunday, 27 November 2011
He Who Shouts Loudest...
It's two and a half years ago since the MPs expenses scandal, in the wake of which a ban was placed on MPs claiming back mortgage interest in their second homes. The move was part of a number of changes introduced to restore 'public confidence'.
However, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, which regulates MPs' expenses, has been visiting MPs in their offices and is now considering overturning the ban because:
' ... there remains a number of MPs who believe that there should be a return to lump sum allowances which would, amongst other things, allow MPs to continue to fund their mortgage interest.'
IPSA is considering giving MPs allowances to spend at their discretion and is asking the public's opinion in their consultation document which also covers a proposal to increase staffing costs and a suggestion that resettlement pay-offs should be reinstated for MPs who leave parliament after an election defeat.
MPs' staff budgets could be increased by more than 25% by IPSA's proposal to increase the maximum spend by up to £19.6m from the current level of £74m. The reason given for this massive hike is MPs complained they were unable to retain their best aides.
A 50% increase in the cost of taxi fares claimable after a late Commons sitting, from £80 to £120, is also suggested. According to the document this would save the taxpayer hotel bills. Really?
While the rest of the country tightens belts the MPs have been quietly ensuring their own nests are well feathered. It's not always those who shout the loudest who are heard.