MPs consider denying expenses watchdog budget

By staff

MPs tasked with approving the expenses watchdog’s budget could strike a blow against the new allowances scheme later.

The committee, led by Speaker John Bercow, has already expressed doubts about whether to approve the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority’s £6.46 million budget for 2010/11.

It points out the parliamentary authorities which ran the previous expenses system did so for annual costs of only around £2 million.

A session on the issue set to take place in public yesterday involving Ipsa chairman Sir Ian Kennedy, interim chief executive Andrew McDonald and finance director Philip Lloyd was instead held behind closed doors.

If the committee does decide to deny Ipsa its funding it will be taking advantage of the only power MPs have over the body tasked with implementing the new expenses regime.

Many MPs have been frustrated by difficulties encountered with the new system but the public’s sensitivities on the issue heighten the impact of any act of rebellion.

The Telegraph newspaper, which made the bulk of the initial expenses revelations last year, quoted an official confidence assessment auditor as saying: “As with any new organisation, there have been teething troubles, but we consider that these have been over-emphasised by those with an axe to grind.”