Good news for the BBC’s Paul Lambert following the ridiculous decision by the Serjeant at Arms to ban him after he filmed her embarrassing failure to prevent the breach of security during the testimony of the Murdochs. Gobby’s pass has been restored after Louise Mensch raised a point of order regarding the banning of the BBC’s Gobby and a Twitter campaign to #SaveGobby took off. Why on earth was he banned in the first place? This is a public building, paid for at great expense by the public. You would have thought after the battle for opening up MPs’ expenses they would have learnt. Parliamentarians are our servants, they work for us and the Serjent at Arms would do well to remember who is the boss…
The pen-pushers at IPSA are meant to restore confidence in the expenses system and avoid the pitfalls of paperwork cock-ups, deliberate or not, that have blighted Parliament for so long. Red faces all round then as it seems thousands of MPs staff will get a bit of a shock when they open their annual P60 certificate.
When IPSA was founded, they hammered home the fact that Members would remain the legal employer of their staff. Their contracts make this very clear:
Staff pay-slips back this up. However, the P60 end of year tax certificates, sent to every staffer, state that the employer is “IPSA 7th floor, Portland House, Bressenden Place, London, SW1E 5BH”:
Simply not the case.
A P60 is proof that tax has been paid and the details are meant to be watertight. Guido understands this is what is known technically as “a massive cock-up” rather than a deliberate shift in the employment rules. IPSA have made clear they will replace the P60 with a correct one if staff complain, but it seems they weren’t going to announce the blunder publicly. MPs will be chortling into their subsidised pints that IPSA has messed up their own paperwork. The fact that IPSA can’t get something as basic as Parliament’s P60′s right, doesn’t bode well for the rest of their duties…
Before Parliament has even resumed for the year, the battle between IPSA and the MPs has flared up again, with the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority attempting to use the public as a human shield against aggrieved members. IPSA clearly isn’t working, but the MPs prove time and again that they cannot be trusted to be their own expenses regulator. This morning IPSA have opened up a public consultation for six weeks on how to fix the problems. The PM has warned they have until April to sort it out…
Guido has said it before, and will submit the idea formally, that a House of Commons debit card is the best way to regulate legitimate expenses. The transactions would as normal be electronically recorded automatically and could thus be published online automatically, the spending limits would be automatic and bureaucracy would be minimal. The idea was proposed in Disinfecting Parliament, a 2009 report from the Sunlight Centre that recommended a number of measures based on best practice in the private sector that could easily be transferred to IPSA. MPs have called for a fairer and simpler system, what could be easier than the debit card plan?
The post-election jamboree roles on. Despite the flurry of activity over the close of Labour leadership nominations, today’s Select Committee Chairman elections are not to be ignored. ConHome has the most comprehensive coverage.
Given any LibDem with an ounce of talent, and plenty lacking even that, are now in government, it came as no surprise that the two committees allocated to them were uncontested and two old timers Beith and Bruce are now running the hugely significant International Development and Justice Committees.
On the Labour side some old faces are still refusing to retire with any dignity they might have left. Slimey Keith Vaz is up for re-election as Home Affairs Chairman and absurdly received backing from Tim Montgomerie and Will Straw. Vaz has shamefully abused his position on that committee. There are some fairly underwhelming candidates for the other posts. The most significant committees and tight races are on the blue side.
A combination of a some fiercely independent candidates, a right-wing troublemakers slate and frankly some appalling nominations will make for an intriguing fight today. Carswell at Defence will put the fear of God in to the MOD and can only liven things up. The defence manfacturers have let down the armed forces (and taxpayers) for decades. Carswell is the man with a mission to put that right.
Nadine has an outside shot at Health and is attempting to convince the Labour MPs that her views on abortion do not outweigh her NHS experience. She has got an impressive range on cross-party support for such a Marmite-figure. She would liven things up considerably.
Guido has made his views perfectly clear on why Tim Yeo’s financial interests render him completely unsuitable for the Energy job and thankfully he has a challenger in the cheapest MP, staff-less Philip Hollobone. Whether MPs will side with the parties and all those investment opportunities or the more humble man remains to be seen.
There is a lot of grumbling around parliament about the new expenses regime and the IPSA bureaucracy established to implement the new system. Some of it is unjustified, some of it is justified.
In Disinfecting Parliament, a report published last year, the Sunlight Centre recommended a number of measures based on best practice in the private sector. Foremost among the recommendations made was that MPs should be issued with a House of Commons debit card to be used for their legitimate expenses. Simples.
The transactions would as normal be electronically recorded automatically and could thus be published online automatically, the spending limits would be automatic and bureaucracy would be minimal. Instead for every transaction we now have invoices being received, authorised, paid by MPs, sent to IPSA where invoices are then re-checked, approved and reimbursed by IPSA with lots of manpower required. Crazy and expensive.
Peston is at it again, the cocky hack claims he has “confirmed” matters thus:
“It has been confirmed that the Chancellor Alistair Darling will impose a one-off super-tax on city bonuses when he unveils his Pre-Budget Report today”.
Shouldn’t the Speaker demand of the Chancellor why Peston and not parliament was the first to know of his plans? The PBR is important and may contain market sensitive information. Peston has previous on this, causing mayhem with share prices and arguably creating a false market. Bercow made a big thing of insisting on the primacy of parliament when he was running for office. Prove it today.
Is this what they mean by cleaning up parliament? This poster has gone up in all the loos on the parliamentary estate. For MPs too stupid to understand the correct procedure…
The government’s Bill introduced by Harriet Harman yesterday proposes establishing a body to be known as the “Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority” and an officer known as the “Commissioner for Parliamentary Investigations”.
The five members of the IPSA will be
“appointed by the Queen upon an Address of the House of Commons. A motion may only be made only with the agreement of the Speaker for a candidate selected on merit on the basis of fair and open competition and approved by a Speaker’s Committee. Members will be removable only in response to an Address of both Houses. There will be requirements that one member of the IPSA should have accountancy experience, that one member should have Parliamentary experience, and that one member be a holder of or have held high judicial office.”
The Commissioner will be appointed the same way. There will, according to the Bill
“be a Speaker’s Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority charged with exercising the functions given to it under the Bill – in particular, approving the selection of persons to be members of the IPSA and the Commissioner.”
Do you see the flaw in this “independent” Comissioner and Authority? Members will be drawn from the establishment and their selection approved by the Speaker’s appointees. Would we permit criminals to choose their own judge and jury?
This is a stitch up, we don’t need more rules and self-selected regulators, we need reform of the expenses system, together with clarity, transparency and enforcement of the rules. The voters will kick out MPs if they can identify crooks, in this sense in a democracy voters are the ultimate regulator of politicians. This whole idea is ill-founded, we don’t need to intermediate democracy with another quango or committee, this approach has already failed.
We need only to empower voters with enough information so that they can determine the truth about those who seek to represent them. The truth is all we need, not redactions, not more quangocrats.
Even the BBC Accepts the Licence Fee Must Go | ConHome
More to Women Than Boosting GDP | Ruth Lea
ThinkProgress Controlled: “I Was an Obamabot” | Zaid Jilani
Free People Don’t Care About Politics | Fraser Nelson
Like Guido’s Facebook Page | Facebook
International Moaning Day | Kathy Gyngell
Cameron Alienating Core Voters Without Attracting New | City AM
Andy Burnham Villain of the Week | Sun
London’s Laundry Business | NY Times
The End of HS2? | Seb Payne
Elvis Speaks | Nottingham Post
Alan Rusbridger opines…
“One thing that Snowden has taught us journalists is that it’s essential to be paranoid.”