The expenses that I claimed to carry out my Parliamentary responsibilities between May and August were reported in today's local newspaper, the Shropshire Star. I note that I claimed £5,136.90. I seem to be at the lower end of totals claimed, but at the higher end of number of claims made. I suppose its because Phill, who manages my office tries to keep things everything up to date.
Many MPs are very dissatisfied about how the allowances system works, but I've not joined in all the criticism of IPSA, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. However, I do think the new system is both unfair and ridiculous - costing the taxpayer far more than it should. Its not necessarily IPSA's fault. Some MPs in the previous Parliament so abused the system, that only an ostensibly tough regime will be acceptable to the public.
I'll illustrate the sort of daftness I mean by giving background to the only claim of mine that the newspaper thought worth reporting on. Its reports thus "Smallest Amount Claimed: £1.60 for using his own car on May 1st. He made two claims for the same amount that day". I suppose this is interesting because it suggests that I am so mean that I will claim such a p***ling amount. I can't recall the actual details, but I may well have left my home in Montgomeryshire to visit Montgomery, on to perhaps Welshpool, and then Newtown before returning to Montgomery before going home. When I was an Assembly Member, I would have submitted a claim for the 36 miles. But IPSA require me to submit 5 separate claims for 4 miles, 6 miles, 14 miles, 8 miles and 4 miles. Its entirely possible that I could have made 10/20 separate journeys in a day. The 4 miles journeys would amount be £1.60 each. The amount of record keeping needed is crackers. But no point in complaining. I just do it - or at least ask Phill to check all the distances on the Internet. Its just not practical to claim for the dozens of visits to individual properties while driving around, diversions etc..
Yesterday there was a uprising of MP anger in the House of Commons about the way IPSA operates. I didn't stay for it. In truth, it doesn't concern me because I'm at an 'established' stage of my life. The aspect that does instill anger in my soul is that my word is not acceptable - because we are all considered to be dishonourable members. Regrettable its a case of the sins of the fathers being visited upon their issue. Anyway, it seems that all the MPs in the circulation area of the Shropshire Star have been very reasonable in the claims they have made on the taxpayer's wallet. Which is a matter for cheer.