NAO to spot check MPs’ expense claims

NAO office

The Review Body on Senior Salaries made the call recently, but was dismissed
by commons director of Resources Andrew Walker, it has emerged.

The row was revealed in tribunal documents discussing whether or not to
release expense claims for 14 senior MPs, due to be published today.

Walker ‘expressed surprise’ at the recommendation of the Review Body on
Senior Salaries that the NAO should be called in ‘to audit the expenses of a
representative sample of MPs each year to increase public confidence in the
system of reimbursement.’

Walker ‘explained his surprise by suggesting that the review body must have
been unaware of the nature of the current checks.

‘In our view the recommendation was a logical one for the review body to make
if it was well aware of the nature of the current checks,’ the information
tribunal said.

The tribunal was scathing in its view of the checks, pointing to the body’s
report stating ‘some MPs interpret the term “allowance” as meaning an amount
that is allocated regardless of actual expenditure’, while Walker said the
additional costs allowance in question (for second homes or accommodation in
London or constituencies) was supposed ‘to be solely a reimbursement of actual
expenditure necessarily incurred by the MP’.

The tribunal said: ‘The laxity of and lack of clarity in the rules for ACA is
redolent of a culture very different from that which exists in the commercial
sphere, or in most other public organisations today.’

MPs including Gordon Brown and David Cameron are due to have their expenses
details made public.

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