Thursday, May 21, 2015

Transparency on MP's expenses in the UK

In New Zealand, information about MP's expenses is limited to an empty summary, despite them spending on average over $50,000 a year each of public money. In the UK, you can now get receipts:

Up to 1m receipts and invoices submitted by MPs since 2010 are to be released on demand by the parliamentary expenses watchdog.

It follows a decision by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) to drop a £187,000 legal fight to keep the documents out of the public domain.

Ipsa already releases summaries of MPs’ expenses in spreadsheet form. A spokeswoman said on Wednesday it would now release copies of MPs’ invoices and receipts in redacted form if requested through the Freedom of Information Act.

This is the same level of detail that we have for our Ministers. In that case, release of receipts has tamed spending; knowledge that it will become public has resulted in Ministers no longer splurging on expensive dinners or luxury hotels on the public's tab. It would be nice if our MPs were similarly restrained.