Ipsa chief defends his record

By Ian Dunt

The chief executive of the body overseeing MPs’ expenses has defended himself against the torrent of criticism the new system has received.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, which is three months old today, has been on the receiving end of accusations that it is inefficient, unfair, burdensome and time-consuming.

But chief executive Andrew McDonald hit back at his critics in a comment piece for the Daily Telegraph, which originally broke the MPs expenses story.

“With the summer break upon us, our first report card is already being drafted for us, not always by those who wish the enterprise of independent regulation well,” he wrote.

“It is said that we are failing: because the online system takes up too much of an MP’s time or we are too slow in settling claims.

“We respond in kind: on average, MPs’ offices spend around 15 minutes a day doing their online expenses – which, given the significant sums of public money involved, does not seem unreasonable – and we now settle claims within 13 days.”

He continued: “All I will say is that I am pleased with what we have achieved to date – against daunting odds – and am determined that we set our sights on matching the best in the cost effectiveness of the services we deliver.”

The publication of the first claims since the new system was installed will come later in the year, quickly followed by the first annual review of the rules.