THE subject of expenses has reared its ugly head again as MPs in Dorset and the New Forest respond to the new rules governing their expenses.
A new scheme drawn up by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), which was unveiled yesterday is due to come into effect after the general election.
The new measures will bar MPs from claiming expenses for buying second homes and limit them to employing only one member of their family.
They will also be banned from claiming for first-class rail journeys.
New Forest West MP Conservative Desmond Swayne, who employs his wife said: “We handed over this matter to an independent authority and we have to live its recommendations.
“I hope this is a fresh start and we can now move forward and regain public confidence.”
Poole’s Conservative MP, Robert Syms, said: “It’s going to make things a lot more difficult to claim for legitimate things and do your job. That was always going to be the case.”
He said not all details were known yet but the emphasis should be on “more salary and claim less”. The MP, who employs his ex-wife, said that relationship was not considered to be a family member – but thought it reasonable that one member of the family could be employed.
Mid Dorset and North Poole’s Liberal Democrat MP Annette Brooke said of the second home issue: “I think the only way forward was to move to rent only, because clearly the public are very uncomfortable at profits being made at the taxpayers’ expense.”
South Dorset Labour MP Jim Knight said: “I think it’s inevitable that change would be made because of people’s concerns over paying for MPs’ mortgages. It might prove more expensive for the taxpayer, but if that’s what is needed to restore trust that’s what we have to do.”
He added: “People have to be satisfied that we are not making money on the back of claiming these allowances, so I think that’s the right thing to do.”
Bournemouth East’s Tory MP Tobias Ellwood called the guidelines generally sensible, with the exception of new flat rental rules.
He said: “It makes sense for people coming into Parliament but for many of us established MPs with mortgages and so forth it means selling up and starting to rent.”
Mr Ellwood called for a set amount to be given out, like in the police or army, to minimise room for mistakes.