IPSA was mis-conceived in panic and fear.
All parties sought a lifeline to escape from the nightmare of the expenses scandal. IPSA was the wrong solution. This is the opportunity to re-shape its future.
The previous lax rules of the Fees Office invited abuse and were rightly abolished. The most efficient best value alternative would have been to replace expenses at reduced total cost withan automatic allowance.
The pendulum swung from permissiveness to minute control of claims large and small. IPSA is a bureaucratic ornament.
It was designed to
Be a bulwark against new fraud.
Restore the public’s confidence in MPs.
Create an independent body remote from MPs control, absolving Parliament from accusations of manipulation of finances in our self-interest.
It has failed in all three ambitions. Our reputation has sunk from rock bottom to subterranean. Financial scandals have continued in both Houses with toe-curling regularity. The public are still convinced that MPs use the system for own ends.
There is a better solution. The previous simple five part expenses system was atomized into a hundred headings and sub-headings. A monthly 30 minute chore was complicated by IPSA into hours of tedious frustrating trawling through a bureaucratic morass of rules that are complex and tedious. IPSA robs MPs and our staff of much of their most precious possession-time.
There is continuing resentment against unnecessary chores that diminish MPs ability to do their numberless essential tasks.
MPs would embrace a new system without claims or the expensive IPSA. It could be based on an allowance calculated on average expenses based on distance from
Westminster and paid automatically. It would be acceptable even if it meant reduction in the amounts that MPs receive because of the liberation from the tentacles of tedious bureaucracy. MPs would gain time, Parliament’s reputation would be protected and IPSA's annual running costs excess of £6million would disappear.
Cruelty on a plate
Few groups are more tedious than the animal-baiting rural lobby.
They are now aroused to defend their courageous pastime of shooting defenceless birds. It’s all part of the rich tapestry of rural barbarism, that we inherit. The threat to take the guns from the boys and deny their perverse pleasure in killing living creatures stirs the rural resistance warriors.
They are many sports that do not involve the use of living sentient creatures as quarries or targets. The shooters have been conditioned to accept as normal activities that are cruel. They find it difficult to escape from their pointless tortuous justifications of an activity that degrades human beings by abusing animals for their own amusement. It was a step forward in the civilising process when cock-fighting & bear-baiting disappeared.
Shooting birds is an inefficient expensive way of preparing their lead-shot bodies for the food trade. The only reason the practices continues is that some people are thrilled to use guns against living creatures rather than inanimate targets and they gain a perverse pleasure from it it. What was acceptable yesterday is less acceptable today. The future will dump these barbaric pastimes.
The Gamebird industry tries continuously to mask Britain's dirty little animal cruelty secret.
The following EDM was proposed in Parliament in 2011:
"That this House welcomes the Game to Eat Campaign initiated by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation and Countryside Alliance; and encourages the general public to eat more game recognising that this is nutritious and healthy food and can be a tasty part of a balanced healthy diet."
The commercial industry is one that wants to hide its unpleasant face from the public. I tabled an amendment
"Leave out all from ‘Game to Eat campaign..’ and insert
which will help to publicise Britain’s worst animal cruelty secret: regrets the indifference to animal suffering that subjects 40 million birds annually to inhumane battery cages that breed enfeebled birds who cannot protect themselves from weather exposure or road traffic resulting in most of them dying before they face the guns; believes that the these foul practises can be challenged only if diners reject game and thus avoid cruelty on a plate."
Game is neither organic, wild or even free-range and the release and shooting of game birds is done purely for entertainment.
Of the 28 million pheasants and 6 million partridges released in the UK, 90% and 40% respectively have been bred in intensive battery farms in France, Spain and Portugal. Last year the Con-dem government overturned a ban on battery cages for breeding pheasants. They are now confined for their productive life (around 2 years) in the type of battery cages used for laying hens.
Rearing birds in their millions to be abandoned for use as living targets is about as far removed from responsible animal welfare as it's possible to get.