Peter Hoskin

The battle over IPSA enters a new phase

The battle over IPSA enters a new phase
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MPs have never really got along with the new expenses body, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. But now their mood towards it seems to have become even frostier. I imagine that IPSA's three-month anniversary, and the rather complacent-sounding celebrations that accompanied it, are something to do with that. Tom Harris's wonderfully acerbic Birthday message, from a couple of days ago, captures how many MPs feel about the whole affair.

In letters to the Telegraph today, Michael Fabricant and Denis MacShane ratchet up the attacks on IPSA. And while many will not see them as the ideal poster boys for a rebellion against an expenses watchdog, it's worth remembering that they are far from alone. In PMQs recently, David Cameron told the body to "get a grip," and described it as "overly-bureaucratic". And there are those around the Prime Minister who would have preferred a far more "post-bureaucratic" solution to the expenses saga, with a greater emphasis on simply publishing claims online: sunlight, disinfectant, all that.

The question is: what next? MPs are limited in what they can do, thanks to IPSA's independent status – but there is talk of restricting funding for a body which costs three times as much to run as the previous Fees Office. In any case, and whatever the rights and wrongs on each side, this protracted conflict is not going to do much to restore public faith in the political system.