A number of hon. Members have submitted a number of written questions, which I have answered, and I was also pleased to listen to their representations in the very full Westminster Hall debate last Wednesday.
Is the Minister aware that, as a result of the policy created by IPSA, many loyal and dedicated members of staff face the prospect of redundancy or, at the very least, of savage cuts in their wages, terms and conditions. Will the Minister tell us what plans he has to ensure that hon. Members’ staff are protected and not unfairly punished as a result of the expenses scandal?
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that question. He will know that Ministers have policy responsibility for IPSA, but are not responsible for its internal workings. He will also know that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has been making sure that, where the IPSA rules make it difficult for Members of Parliament to carry out their duties, information on those rules is made available. He will also know that, next week, the Speaker’s Committee on IPSA will have its first meeting. A motion on today’s Order Paper provides for the appointment of five Members to that Committee. At that meeting, they will consider how there can be accountability to this House.
Since last Wednesday’s Westminster Hall debate, in which the right hon. Member for Tonbridge and Malling (Sir John Stanley) made it clear that IPSA was in breach of parliamentary privilege, what action has the Minister taken to ensure that IPSA is not in breach of parliamentary privilege?
My right hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge and Malling asked me whether I would advise the Standards and Privileges Committee, but that is not a matter for members of the Government. The hon. Member for Colchester (Bob Russell) himself will be appointed, if the House so desires it, to the Speaker’s Committee on IPSA, and I know he will use his undoubted skills to make sure that IPSA is given correct advice so that Members of this House can do their jobs to the standards our constituents require.