MPs and rail expenses

Posted by Christie Malry on October 21, 2012 at 9:14 am

The Telegraph reports this morning that many MPs have made use of a "loophole" to travel first class on rail journeys, even though the intention is for them to exercise restraint by travelling standard class. They do this because IPSA allows them to claim for the cost of a first class rail ticket where this cost is below the cost of an anytime standard class fare. And sometimes the cost of a first class ticket bought on an Advance fare costs less than the cost of a standard class ticket bought undiscounted.

Businesses wouldn't put up with this sort of behaviour. Businesses have been feeling the pinch over recent years and have clamped down on this sort of abuse. Most would insist that the cheapest ticket be bought, with a first class ticket only being allowed on the very rare occasion that the Advance first class ticket is cheaper than the Advance standard class ticket. And that's the rule that IPSA should be enforcing.

In the meantime, the way to fix this is to publicise the abusers and their abuse and the amount this has cost the public purse. Let them answer for their behaviour at the next election. MPs have shown us that they cannot be trusted with their expenses, so the only thing we can do is to continue exposing their behaviour until they are shamed into behaving better.

And it's very sad to see IPSA yet again colluding with MPs to tolerate their abuse. IPSA was set up to curb their behaviour, but it has shown that only two years after it was established it is already fully captured by the MPs it is supposed to regulate. Really it should be abolished and re-established by a proper independent body with the credibility to fix this problem once and for all.

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