Page last updated at 10:47 GMT, Thursday, 11 February 2010

Expenses body to cost six times more than MPs' payback

Sir Ian Kennedy, chairman of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority
Sir Ian Kennedy will be paid at a rate of 700 a day

The parliamentary body for policing expenses will cost about six times as much to set up as MPs have been ordered to repay.

Figures show the start-up cost for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority will be £6.6m.

Last week, MPs were told to pay back £1.12m of their second home expenses after an audit of their claims dating back to 2004 by Sir Thomas Legg.

Meanwhile, three MPs and a peer are facing charges over their expenses.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority has replaced the Commons Fees Office, and most of its budget is expected to go on recruiting about 80 staff.

'One-off costs'

Chairman Sir Ian Kennedy will be paid £700 a day, He is expected to work a maximum of three days a week while the body is being established, and less time once it is up and running.

BBC political correspondent Norman Smith said the IPSA costs would come on top of the £1.1m spent on Sir Thomas Legg's audit and the inquiry by the standards watchdog Sir Christopher Kelly which cost £400,000.

An IPSA spokeswoman said: "The estimated cost of setting up IPSA in 2009/10 is £6.6m."

She added that this "reflects one-off costs of establishing a new, independent public body of this sort, such as the acquisition of accommodation and IT systems".

She also said: "Early estimates suggest that in direct staff costs, the team working directly on the expenses system within IPSA will cost less than the existing House of Commons arrangements."

Appeals

There have been several inquiries related to MPs' expenses.

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The independent Committee on Standards in Public Life - chaired by Sir Christopher Kelly - set out recommendations on how the system should change in the future.

The proposals included banning MPs for claiming towards mortgage payments on second homes and from employing relatives.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, set up in the wake of the MP expenses revelations last year, is currently consulting on those proposed changes with Sir Ian saying he hopes to get a new system in place by the start of the next Parliament.

The three Labour MPs facing criminal charges in relation to their expenses are Elliot Morley, Jim Devine and David Chaytor.

Tory Peer Lord Hanningfield will also be charged under the Theft Act. All four have said they denied any charges.



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