The Professors passion for "The Science of Deceit" started here...

Employed by the Ministry (in a covert capacity) to help introduce the law ending dishonest politics, you can see his hand all over the posts of past.

Current political circumstances have forced him to reveal himself and as we speak, MPs are signing up to re-introduce The Elected Representatives (Prohibition of Deception) Bill for debate with over 80,000 voters supporting them.

Posts before Jan '08 are purely for the record (with hindsight they make fascinating reading). Posts after May 13th mark the Professor's return.

Meet the Professor

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

IPSA scam ?

The Ministry can barely contain itself in anticipation of the Kelly report and response from the honourables... but figured it was worth taking a moment to reflect on the venerable institution itself, and in particular, it's desire ability to deliver legislation. We've not been shy in past criticism of "message based legislation", the question is, are we a bunch of myopic anti-establishment hippies (we take offence at "myopic") and unduly harsh on the mother of all Parliaments.

Kelly's findings are delivered to the newly-born Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.

Here's the Ministry of Justice's announcement for the creation of the IPSA,

"The old system of MPs’ self regulation is to end and a new system of robust, independent and transparent statutory regulation will be brought forward in urgent legislation introduced to Parliament by Harriet Harman and Jack Straw."
Good enough. And Parliament was quick to endorse the intention in the expenses backlash. Let's take a bo-peep at what came out of the grinder. Worth bearing in mind this government's majority. You can read the Bill in full here, for those with less time on their hands, here are some key clauses ;

3 MPs’ salaries
(1)  The IPSA is to pay the salaries of members of the House of Commons in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the House.

4 MPs’ allowances scheme
(5)The Speaker must lay the scheme (or revision) before the House of Commons.

7 Investigations
(4) If, after conducting an investigation, the Commissioner finds that the member was paid an amount under the scheme that should not have been allowed, the Parliamentary Standards Bill the Commissioner must refer the Commissioner’s findings to the House of Commons Committee on Standards and Privileges.

(6) If, after conducting an investigation, the Commissioner finds that the member failed to comply with a requirement included in the code by virtue of section (7), the Commissioner must refer the Commissioner’s findings to the Committee on Standards and Privileges.

In other words, any deviance is reported to... the Committee on Standards and Privileges...  who report and make recommendations to...  The House of Commons.


To get an idea of where Westminster's coming from, here's an example of the amendments that shaped the Bill before it received the Royal assent....  (blue is replacement text, red is deleted)

5 MPscode of conduct relating to financialinterests rulesinterests
(1) The IPSA must prepare rules under subsections (7), (8) and (10) a code to be observed by members of the House of Commons....

Clearly, there's an important distinction between the deleted word "rules" and the preferred replacement "code of conduct".

One clause it's hard to find fault with is ;

10 Offence of providing false or misleading information for allowances claims

(1) A member of the House of Commons commits an offence if the member—
(a) makes a claim under the MPs’ allowances scheme, and
(b) provides information for the purposes of the claim that the member knows to be false or misleading in a material respect.

You'll be pleased to hear that in this regard, Parliament have caught up with the rest of us, or should that read, "duplicated the Fraud Act (monetary gain by deception)". Which MPs are already subject to, and indeed several are going to be prosecuted under.


  1. That clause is only good if guilty MPs are :
    *publically flogged
    *made to resign immediately, losing any normal payoffs/pensions
    *made to pay back the money involved - plus interest since the time of the offence
    THEN I'll begin to think that MPs expenses have been properly reformed

  2. The rules have barely been changed if almost everything has to go through Parliament first but that is to be expected, we have a Parliament of elected representatives.

    The real power is still within our own hands on a constituency level - ask probing questions of candidates, demand transparency and let them know we will be watching. Demanding a proper recall mechanism that doesn't require Parliamentary rubber stamp first is another thing we could do with. This doesn't have to require national law making either, just that enough people demand it of their candidates at election time. Free market politics if you like - demand some decent things and if a few do see sense and their support swells we have ourselves a bit of a competition. An arms race of decency and transparency.

    By having so few people interested in getting the best out of our politicians they have tended towards the bare minimum of acceptable behaviour and got away with all kinds of abuses of the authority we lend them.

    We let our guard down long ago and hoped our representatives would do their duty, and they have not. We must be vigilant from now on. Parliament will not reform itself with those same shits still in it.

  3. I wouldn't trust any of these "reforms" to make one iota of difference!