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16 June 2010: IPSA issues consultations and sets out new measures to improve service to MPs

Proposals setting out how IPSA will publish expense claims and how the new Compliance Officer will investigate complaints and, where necessary, impose penalties on MPs are issued for consultation today by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.

IPSA has also announced a range of measures to improve the service it provides to MPs to assist the implementation of the new rules on MPs’ expenses.

Under its statutory obligations, IPSA is issuing consultation documents on three issues:

  • the procedures relating to the new Compliance Officer, including the way he pursues investigations and what penalties he may impose on MPs who transgress the rules on expenses;
  • the extent of information about claims for expenses claims submitted by MPs that should be published given IPSA’s commitment to transparency and openness balanced against issues of privacy and security;
  • minor adjustments to the expenses rules to deal with anomalies that have come to light since the scheme was introduced last month.

The changes to the way in which IPSA provides a service to MPs include:

  • additional guidance to MPs on the use of the online claims system;
  • face-to-face advice surgeries on operating the new rules;
  • the extension of the £4,000 advance already available to MPs to be repaid by March 2011 rather than by the end of August;
  • consideration of other issues, including the possibility of direct payment of invoices, as part of the planned review of the expenses scheme later this year.

Chair of IPSA, Sir Ian Kennedy said:

“It is six weeks since the new rules on MPs’ expenses were introduced.  In that time IPSA has laid induction and training for almost 600 MPs, paid all MPs’ salaries on time and is on track to pay the first batch of expenses on June 23 as planned.

“Yet, as we have always said, this implementation period is an extremely challenging one for MPs – and for IPSA.  The new rules represent a complete break from the past.  Independent regulation requires a significant cultural and organisational change of approach from what went before.

"Where we can assist MPs to adapt to these changes and ensure the pressures on our staff are eased we will do so, and the measures we are announcing today to improve the advice we offer should help do that.  But the new rules are fair, workable and transparent, and are here to stay.

“Restoring public confidence in the expenses system will take time.  The new rules, and the system of openness and scrutiny that go with them, will play a major part in achieving this goal. But MPs must show demonstrate their responsibility to making the new system work too.”

Commenting on the consultations, Sir Ian said:

“Transparency and openness are a key part of the new system.  Yet we need also to have regard to the privacy and security of MPs. Our proposals are designed to seek the right balance.

“The new Compliance Officer is also a key part of the new system.  We are consulting on the exact nature of the procedures that he must undertake to investigate complaints and, where an MP breaks the rules, what penalties should follow.”

ENDS

For more information, contact Mark Anderson on 020 7811 6488

Notes to editors

Copies of the consultation papers are available on IPSA’s website. Anyone wishing to respond to the consultation should do so via the IPSA website –www.theipsa.org.uk - by 7 July.

IPSA is also publishing a document that sets out the facts about the implementation of the new rules and answers. 

IPSA is an independent body created by the Parliamentary Standards Act (PSA) 2009.  It is not part of the Government or of Parliament.

Alan Lockwood was appointed as the new Compliance Officer on 4 June 2010.