Recent events leave us in no doubt that the parliamentary rulebook is in need of drastic reform. The question is, what form should it take?
Our guest writer is Ellen Bloomer, an intern at the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr)
Recent events leave us in no doubt that the parliamentary rulebook is in need of drastic reform. The question is, what form should it take? Sir Ian Kennedy, chair of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) spoke at ippr last night to outline his vision of reforming the system of MPs’ expenses, based on the principles of fairness, workability and transparency.
Sir Ian accepts that involvement in the debate over the role of an MP is “perhaps the largest challenge”. However, it is odd that it should be viewed as a long-term goal when it so clearly determines the very basis of the expenses reforms, “because it is IPSA which must ultimately allocate the public’s money to allow the MP to carry out this role”.
Although Sir Ian said it is “not for IPSA to determine what an MP is for”, his discussion of the consultation process insinuated that an understanding of the role of an MP, at the very least, is necessary:
“MPs were particularly anxious that we understood what it means to be an MP and how representing Orkney and Shetland brings different challenges from those met by the representative of an inner London constituency; one size does not always fit all…
“Parliament has become rivaled – some might say supplanted – by attention to case‐work, taking up the concerns of constituents.”
This suggests a certain sympathy towards the view that MPs have become “glorified social workers” at the expense of legislation scrutinizers. So, how does Sir Ian allow the expenses system to reflect the varying and changing roles of the MPs? We will have to wait until next week to find out.
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