John Bercow, the Speaker, has published his submission to the review by IPSA, the parliamentary standards body. He has questioned the way that the new regime excludes children over 5 from its definition of “dependents”. He has also criticised a strict definition of London MPs which means that 128 (up from 25) are not eligible for most expenses. This is “improbably high,” he suggests. His robust argument will win him kudos among MPs, some of whom have been grumbling about him in recent weeks.
In his conclusion he shows sympathy to those MPs who have been complaining:
The basic tenets of my submission can be readily summarised. The old expenses regime was wrong and had to be replaced. The fundamental principle that the new system should be independent remains sound. The sheer speed with which the new arrangements had to be introduced has led to significant operational problems and real grievances amongst Members, threatening both their family lives and their capacity to discharge their duties as MPs as fully as they wish. Relatively modest changes to policies on accommodation, travel, the rental of offices and the staffing of them, combined with a reasonable flexibility in the use of Members‟ budgets, would yield real benefits to Members and constituents alike. Similarly, a decision by IPSA to reject extensive prescription and instead to enforce standards by audit, inspection and publication, would be a decisive step in the right direction.