James Forsyth

MPs’ February fear

MPs' February fear
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When you talk to MPs about the new expenses’ regime there are a whole variety of grumbles you’ll hear, many of them reasonable. For example, it does seem silly that all MPs buy their own printer ink cartridges rather than the Commons buying a job lot and using bulk ordering to obtain a discount.

But one of the things that really bothers them is that IPSA will publish all the refused expenses’ requests in February. Now, I expect that most of you think this is reasonable. But MPs do have a point that the way IPSA logs these things means that any enquiry about what you are or are not allowed to claim comes across as an attempt to claim. 

David Cameron is being pulled two ways on expenses. His MPs wanted the system changed—and fast. There’s a growing groundswell in the Conservative parliamentary party for moving away from a receipts based system. But the public is unlikely to take kindly to that idea. Giving MPs’ more discretion on their expenses is hardly a popular view at the moment. It’ll be fascinating to watch how Cameron tries to keep both his own MPs and the public happy over this.