Thursday, July 20, 2006

MPs Snuffle Expenses Trough

Our MPs have really surpassed themselves at the trough this time. They've spent so much that the National Audit Office has actually been forced to qualify their accounts:

"In 2005-06, the House of Commons Members Estimate expended more resources than Parliament had authorised. By so doing, the Estimate breached Parliament’s control of expenditure and incurred what are termed “excesses” for which further parliamentary authority is required. I have qualified my opinion on the House of Commons Members 2005-06 Resource Accounts."

Part of the overspend was caused by the ballooning cost of their gilt-edged pension scheme (see here). But more astonishingly, the rest came from the speed at which some MPs got their snouts stuck into a brand new expenses trough, thoughtfully wheeled into the sty just last year:

"With effect from 1 April 2005, Members were allowed to transfer up to 10% of their annual Staffing Allowance to their Incidental Expenses Provision allowance... The Department did not anticipate that the increased flexibility between allowances would lead to significantly higher overall expenditure..."

The Department clearly doesn't understand MPs very well. Spending on "incidental expenses" is obviously far more attractive than spending on staff, and 228 MPs immediately got stuck in. Another £8,400 pa comes in pretty handy if you've already maxxed your stingy £20 grand IEP allowance. And it's not as if taxpayers will really notice: the whole lot only comes to mere £156,598,000.


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