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Ipsa’s costly pursuit of one MP undermines its purpose

3 March 2014

Ipsa, never popular with MPs anyway, has done itself a disservice with its pursuit of Conservative MP Stewart Jackson over its demand that he hand over £54,000 to the expenses watchdog to reflect the increased value of his property that he had claimed mortgage interest support for. On Friday, Jackson, who had refused to pay, revealed that Ipsa had dropped the case after an independent valuer said there had been no rise in his property’s value. Jackson said:

‘The application of commonsense and some compromise on Ipsa’s part may have resolved the dispute much more expeditiously and without the cost to the taxpayer of more than £25,000 in legal fees, including retaining the services of a QC and junior counsel from Matrix Chambers in drawing up and advising on the High Court papers. This, in my opinion, was legal overkill. It was unnecessary and, as events have proven, totally unjustified.’

Ipsa argues that Jackson only claimed that the valuations of his property were fundamentally flawed when the regulator demanded he pay £54,000, with a spokesman saying:

‘If Mr Jackson had submitted accurate valuations in the first instance, or produced suitable evidence in the months of discussion about this, we would not have had to escalate this issue or seek legal support to try and conclude the matter.’

But in standing up to Ipsa, Jackson has made himself quite a hero among MPs who are fed up with the expenses regime that they had hoped would bring more light to their remuneration packages but has instead brought more heat. One MP remarked to me this morning that ‘someone had to stand up to them, and no-one else was brave enough to do it’. Don’t forget that it is already sufficiently unpopular that those MPs who help colleagues with their regular expenses struggles are able to assemble supporters for leadership bids, no matter how improbable. This costly pursuit of a backbench MP doesn’t help the watchdog’s cause a great deal.

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Show comments
  • James S

    The innocent have nothing to fear. Really? Bureaucrats are infallible? I think this demonstrates just why we should not defer to independent experts, they are no better or worse than the rest of us. Good work Stuart!

  • kyalami

    MPs need to get a grip. They have a much slacker regime than 99% of private companies do.

    • Noa

      As ever Gordon Brown introduced an engorged, statist hammer to crack a rotten nut.
      A reputable business accounting software package and half a dozen cost accountants were all that was ever required to introduce financial probity.

  • Smithersjones2013

    IPSA another dereliction of duty by Parliament. Instead of sorting their act out they outsource it to a bunch of unelected appointees dependent on the continued patronage of the government.

    Perhaps if we scrapped Parliament (abolishing the major political parties along with it) and directly elected the Quango and Civil Service Department heads directly we would get a better settlement from government. At least we would save several hundred million a year in Paliamentary cost.

    Increasingly the three establishment parties are of no value to the UK electorate. Soon they will be unable to justify their existence the way they are going.

  • saffrin

    MY local Labour MP is claiming Parliamentary expenses for the refurbishment costs and mortgage interest for a house he owns just around the corner from a house he still owns and claimed Parliamentary expenses for last time.
    Maybe the Ipsa could get on to him sometime soon.
    MP’s have a big enough scam going on with regards properties, one would be forgiven for thinking the entire Government housing policy was designed with their own personal profits in mind.

    • Noa

      It probably is. Certainly many will have identifed the opportunies that arise for them.

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