Details of the first tranche of MPs’ expenses of the current parliament are to be published by the new expenses watchdog.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) – will release the details of 22,000 claims submitted by MPs between May 7 and August 31.
The publication – to be posted on line at 10am on Thursday – covers the first round of payments to be made under new rules introduced in the wake of the expenses scandal which rocked Westminster last year.
It comes amid continued unrest among MPs over the way the system is being run by Ipsa, with the Commons debating a backbench motion condemning the “unnecessarily high costs and inadequacies” of the new system and calling for the introduction of a “simpler” alternative.
The motion has been tabled by Adam Afriyie, a millionaire Tory who, reportedly, does not claim expenses. He is backed by Graham Brady, the chairman of the Tory backbench 1922, Tony Lloyd, the chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, and Lorely Burt, the chairman of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary, underlining the strength of feeling across Westminster.
Thursday’s release will include details of the 576 MPs – out of a total of 650 – who submitted claims and were reimbursed during the period concerned. For each claim, the watchdog will publish the name and constituency of the MP concerned, the budget the claim is made from (such as general administrative expenditure), the type of expense (such as travel), and a description of the claim.
It will not however be publishing receipts, arguing that the cost of preparing them for publication – in excess of £1 million a year – would not provide “value for taxpayers’ money”.
This initial release will also not include claims that have been rejected. Ipsa has said that it will only publish rejected claims made after September 14 in order to give MPs and its own staff a chance to get used to the system first.
The Times reported it had obtained a list of 1,574 claims, totalling £116,359, which had been turned down by Ipsa over a period of five months, suggesting that some MPs are still struggling to comply with the new rules. In an open letter to the paper, Ipsa chairman Sir Ian Kennedy said that MPs and been “thoughtful and proper” in making their claims, and when they had been queried it had been due to “misunderstanding” of the new system. He said: “Our approach is a genuine change in how information about MPs’ expenses is made public: more transparent than anything that has gone before.”
In future, Ipsa intends to publish details of MPs’ expenses every three months. Data on office rental and staffing costs will be published annually.