MPs’ expenses fail audit inspection
The House of Commons failed to supply evidence to support £13.9 million of MPs’ expense claims, its auditors reported this week.
The total spend on expenses for 2009 – 10 was £98.1 million, of which £13.9 million was unsupported by evidence, or entitlement could not be fully demonstrated, said the National Audit Office’s comptroller and auditor general Amyas Morse in his report.
Meanwhile, £11.3 million of claims were supported by evidence but there was insufficient data to prove that it had been incurred for parliamentary purposes.
Of the claims made in the last year, £1.8 million could not be audited because it was being held by the police for investigation.
“I have not obtained all the information and explanations that I consider necessary for the purpose of my audit and proper accounting records have not been maintained,” said Morse.
However, he also noted: "This lack of evidence does not necessarily imply that expenditure was paid incorrectly."
Following the publication of MPs’ expenses data in the Telegraph in May 2009 – which triggered widespread concern as to the integrity of the scheme - the House of Commons removed restrictions on the scope of the audit, allowing the auditors to carry out sample testing of payments made to members from April – July 2009.
The sample work found that one in four payments did not have the level of evidence required by the parliamentary ‘Green Book’ (which sets out expenses regulations).
Since this year’s general election, responsibility for paying members’ salaries and expenses has transferred to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA). The IPSA is also responsible for preparing the Houses’ annual accounts.
Commenting on the report's findings, Matthew Sinclair, director of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "The auditor general's refusal to sign off the commons accounts shows how far the system got out of control.
"Taxpayers' money has clearly been abused on a huge scale as millions of pounds paid in expenses went to MPs who have swindled the public, and millions more wasn't properly justified. This scandal continues to blight the reputation of parliament and justice has to be done, those responsible should be punished severely."
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