The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) – the body charged with administering expenses for MPs and their staff – has surpassed itself in what appears to be an effort to lose any remaining shreds of credibility.
It emerged over the weekend that IPSA’s board came up with its proposals to hike MPs' pay while luxuriating on a two-day “away day” at a plush Surrey hotel boasting “sumptuous surroundings”, an “exquisite restaurant” and an 18-hole championship level golf course.
In its 2011/12 Annual Report, IPSA stated that one of its key aims going forward was to “bring down our operational costs… without compromising public trust”.
While we are yet to discover exactly how much IPSA has billed taxpayers for the caper, there is no question that they have compromised public trust with this unnecessary and wasteful expedition.
What possible justification could this unaccountable quango have for holding its deliberations at the Selsdon Park Hotel? A spokesman for IPSA told the Sunday Telegraph was that it was “important for the board to meet off-site to consider these proposals.”
WHY?? What’s wrong with meeting in IPSA’s offices in Westminster?
The IPSA spokesman even deigned to suggest that Selsdon Park was offering best value for money because they had explored more expensive options.
IPSA has come in for criticism before over its running costs, which have led me to accuse it of being a “bureaucratic monster of a quango”.
But the decision to head to a luxury hotel to discuss MPs’ pay means that the body has now lost any sense of moral authority to safeguard taxpayers’ money.