By Tony Grew - 5th January 2010
The chairman of the new Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) has said that if there is an election before May it will lead to an "untidy interim scheme" for MPs' expenses.
Prof Sir Ian Kennedy was speaking at a Hansard Society event earlier this evening. where he laid out the future direction of the authority, created by an Act of Parliament last year in response to the scandal about MPs' claims.
Ipsa will be the first system of independent regulation of MPs' salaries, allowances and financial interests.
It was established by Parliamentary Standards Act 2009, rushed through before the summer recess as a reaction to public fury after numerous press stories about expenses claims for duck houses, bathplugs and moat cleaning.
However, Sir Christopher Kelly's report on MPs' expenses, published in November, was highly critical of the new regime proposed by the government.
The chair of the committee on standards in public life recommended a wide-ranging shake up of the system.
Sir Christopher proposed that responsibility for maintaining the register of financial interests and the associated code of conduct should remain with the House of Commons.
This evening Sir Ian said Ipsa will work closely with the standards committee, but Sir Christopher "wants to keep the current system and graft on new rules".
Ipsa envisages a much more radical approach, adding a "vital element" of powers of enforcement and sanction.
"Between us we can make a difference in culture and behaviour," he said.
A consultation document will be published on Thursday and Sir Ian announced there would be widespread public consultation on various options for a new system of expenses.
He said Ipsa's scheme "must be expenses, backed by receipts" but pointed out that allowances are not the same as expenses.
He branded allowances "grown-up pocket money" but "some things, such as hiring staff, should attract a budget, the spending of which must be agreed in advance".
There will be five types of claims under the new plans: travel and subsistence; accommodation; staff; rental of constituency offices and places to hold surgeries and general running costs.
Sir Ian said he was "most anxious" that the new regime is agreed on and in place by the general election, which he is assuming will be in May.
Any earlier and the scheme will not be ready, leading to and "untidy interim scheme".
There will be public appearances, meetings across the country and a new website as part of the consultation with the public, but Sir Ian stressed that "the timetable is tight".
Read the full transcript of the speech HERE.