House of Commons Speaker John Bercow demands four expenses watchdog board members re-apply for their jobs - UK Politics - UK - The Independent

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow demands four expenses watchdog board members re-apply for their jobs

 

The independence of the watchdog which sets MPs pay and expenses has been called into question after it emerged that the House of Commons Speaker had demanded that four of its board members re-apply for their jobs.

Correspondence released by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) revealed that John Bercow insisted that four board members could not be automatically re-appointed to their positions when they came up for renewal in January.

Instead he said he had taken legal advice which stated they would have to re-apply for their roles in an open competition and that former MP should have a key say in deciding whether they should keep their jobs.

As a result the four board members whose contracts were up for renewal decided not to reapply while the chair of IPSA warned that Mr Bercow’s intervention could undermine public trust in the organisation.

The new arrangements, Sir Ian Kennedy said, introduced “a level of parliamentary influence which I believe could cause some to question IPSA’s future independence”.

Ipsa took charge of MPs' expenses in 2010 in the wake of the scandal that engulfed Westminster.

However, tough new rules sparked fury among many politicians, who complained that they were having to subsidise their work and that claims were taking up too much time.

Although some elements of the system have been eased tensions remain.

The regulator is currently carrying out a review of MPs' pay, amid calls for salaries to be raised, and has already signalled that MPs pensions will be cut.

In a series of letters, which were sent over the summer and published today, Sir Ian made plain that he disagreed with the Speaker’s insistence that he was legally obliged to hold a full selection process, estimated to cost as much as £100,000 to carry out.

He also said forcing the four board members to reapply for their jobs would create the “perception” that they had failed in their duties.

Sir Scott Baker, Jackie Ballard, Ken Olisa and Isobel Sharp have now decided to leave Ipsa, meaning it will haemorrhage experience.

Sir Ian added that the inclusion on the selection panel of the former Tory MP Peter Atkinson would “inevitably introduce a perception of party politics”.

“This would be wholly undesirable given the need for Ipsa to be and be seen to be independent of political influence,” he wrote.

An Ipsa spokesman confirmed that four board members would be leaving, adding: “Of course, these are individual choices but one contributing factor was their concern about the process used to appoint and reappoint members to the Board.”

It is understood that the process of identifying new board members is well advanced and their names will be put to parliament soon.

The Speaker's Office played down the row, insisting it was merely a disagreement over “legal interpretation” of the Parliamentary Standards Act.

But a spokesman confirmed it had declined a request from Sir Ian to seek legal advice on the meaning of the Act.

The Commons spokesman said: “The existing four 'ordinary' board members were appointed for a three year fixed term which will expire on January 10, 2013.

“The Parliamentary Standards Act 2009 states that candidates put to the House for appointment to Ipsa must have been selected on merit and on the basis of fair and open competition.

“The Speaker took legal advice which confirmed that this provision required him to initiate a fair and open competition at the end of every fixed term.

“The Speaker accordingly set up an independent panel, including Professor Sir Ian Kennedy, to run such a competition.

“Under the statute, the current board members may be re-appointed once only for a term of up to three years, subject to the requirement that they re-apply and are again selected on merit, on the basis of fair and open competition.

“The current four ordinary members chose not to re-apply.”

Suggested Topics
News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week