Page last updated at 15:56 GMT, Thursday, 12 May 2011 16:56 UK

MPs back expenses review

MPs have backed calls for a review of the legislation governing their expenses system.

The Commons agreed without a vote that a committee of MPs should examine the legislation setting up the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), passed in the wake of the expenses scandal in 2009.

Leading the calls for a review of the workings of the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009 on 12 May 2011, Tory Adam Afriyie, a long-time campaigner for reform of Ipsa, told MPs: "This issue of expenses is incendiary but it is our duty to act without fear or favour in the interests of democracy, our constituents and the taxpayer.

"I think a calm, methodical review of the 2009 Act is a really important step."

The expenses watchdog has attracted criticism from MPs who complain it is too bureaucratic and expensive.

Mr Afriyie acknowledged the need for the old system to be changed after some "disgraceful acts" in the past, but insisted that the current difficulties MPs were encountering with Ipsa had to be addressed.

'Micro-management'

Tory Edward Leigh, who sits on the committee which liaises between MPs and Ipsa, said it operated an "absurdly bureaucratic system", and he hoped the committee would come up with "simple solutions which ultimately protect the taxpayer".

The SNP's Pete Wishart praised the system used by the Scottish Parliament which he said worked far better than Ipsa's "mind-numbing bureaucracy"

Shadow Commons leader Hilary Benn welcomed a review, saying: "We should take the opportunity to review the effectiveness of the system which parliament established and we should assess the progress, as well as identify what more needs to be done and I for one look forward to the result of the committee's work."

But Labour's John Mann said there were debates "of far more consequence to my constituents than wasting parliamentary time on the self-indulgence of Members of Parliaments' obsession with the expenses system that should be determined independently".

Cabinet Office minister Mark Harper promised ministers would look "very carefully" at the recommendations the committee makes, but warned against creating a system where the government or the Commons "micro-manages" the regime.

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