MPs' expenses system must serve the public interest, say reformers

MPs' expenses system must serve the public interest, say reformers

By staff writers
16 Dec 2010

Responding to Prime Minister David Cameron's warning that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) has three months to improve or face compulsory changes, political reform group Unlock Democracy says that it is vital that any new system is "independent, transparent and fair".

Following the Downing Street remarks about IPSA, Unlock Democracy director Peter Facey, declared: "IPSA has made mistakes in the past, and does need reforming, however we should not lose sight of these three principles. Otherwise we risk throwing the baby out with the bath water."

He continued: "The Prime Minister and others must accept that this is a public matter and not primarily a parliamentary one as some claim. Following the expenses scandal, instead of waiting for the Kelly Report, IPSA was created by Parliament to be independent of MPs. The public will rightly view with suspicion any measures then brought in by MPs to modify the very institution they were so quick to set up.

"The system certainly needs modifying to ensure MPs are properly reimbursed for legitimate work expenses, but these reforms should not restrict outside levels of scrutiny. Before threatening to scrap a system, the Prime Minister must have clear plans as to what to replace it with. We cannot have a return to the bad old days of the Fees Office which served the interests of parliamentarians rather than the public," said Mr Facey.

Unlock Democracy (http://www.unlockdemocracy.org.uk/) is a leading UK-wide campaign for democracy, rights and freedoms. It was formed in 2007 and is the successor organisation to Charter 88 and the New Politics Network.

[Ekk/3]

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