The MPs’ spending watchdog has apologized for telling MPs they might claim some expenses for the Christmas holidays.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), a body set up largely in response to the MPs’ spending scandal in 2009, had been widely criticized for its initial decision.
According to the guidelines, MPs could claim the cost of “food and refreshments for a festive office event”, as well as “festive decorations for their office”, but “no claims are allowed for alcohol”.
Some MPs have been abused over the advice and lawmakers have complained the regulator made it look like they had ‘demanded’ to put food, refreshments and decorations for an office party on expenses.
Ipsa said that after issuing the guidelines, a number of MPs contacted the body saying “they have never made such claims in the past and have no intention of doing so in the future. coming”.
Watchdog chief executive Ian Todd said: ‘We got the message wrong by leaving the impression forming that this is what MPs wanted to do, rather than our interpretation of the discretion available under existing rules.
“We are an independent body and we make our own decisions, but occasionally, like everyone else, we make mistakes.
“I would like to apologize to MPs and their staff who have had to deal with phone calls, emails and in some cases abuse as a result of our advice. They did not write the guidelines or influence its content. In releasing it, we also failed to take into account the mood of the public at a time of severe economic and financial pressures. I’m sorry about that.”
Labor MP Jess Phillips – in a Twitter post retweeted by Foreign Secretary James Cleverly – said Ipsa had been “irresponsible”.
“I just want to say no one asked for it, no one I know will use it,” she wrote. “The advice was not given by MPs and yet we will be pilloried for it. I think it is really irresponsible to issue these guidelines as if MPs are asking for them when I have literally never heard anyone do that.
Tory MP Maria Caulfield wrote on Twitter: ‘Welcome to clarification from Ipsa that MPs are not using public funds for Christmas parties.
House of Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt also welcomed Ipsa’s statement.
On Tuesday, Rishi Sunak’s official spokesperson told reporters: “The Prime Minister certainly has no intention of using this and his view is that MPs will want to justify all expenditure to their constituents. “