( NOTE TO MEDIA I am not expressing a view on this topic as IPSA is independent and responsible, and I am not planning to give interviews on this topic for that reason. The questions beneath are to sound opinion, are meant to be neutral, and are designed to give my bloggers a chance to express their views on something of interest to them)
I understand the wish of many of you to discuss the issue of MPs renting flats. Now I have seen the newspaper reports and understand what is going on, I am happy to provide this forum for you to ask questions of IPSA. As you appreciate, IPSA, the independent watchdog, makes the rules and enforces them. IPSA can change the rules if it wishes. Parliament does not seek to make or amend the rules.
At the heart of the latest stories are three questions:
1. Should MPs be able to charge rent for a small flat in central London, on the grounds that many cannot return to their main home in their constituencies on working nights at the Commons?
2. Should wealthier MPs who happen to own property investments be barred from claiming rent for a central London place, where MPs without savings can do so? Should there be some kind of wealth test over any rent claim, to avoid a richer MP selling property investments and putting the money into something else to still claim rent if the rules change?
3. Does it make any difference if renting is allowed for all MPs if some MPs happen to rent out property investments to other MPs, assuming it is done at market price? Is renting from another MP much worse than renting from a third party? Is an MP holding a rental property as an investment wrong, but an MP holding a bond or share as an investment OK?
As you seek to answer these questions you will find IPSA do not have an easy solution, if you accept the proposition that MPs do need financial assistance with a second home or to stay in London at all. I do not rent a property for my use, nor do I have a property to rent out, so I have no personal interest in the answers to these questions. I would be grateful if you did not personalise the answers to individual MPs for legal reasons. I note that MPs of all three main parties are involved so there is no party advantage to be gained on this issue.
I would also be interested in your answers to the following
Should all Ministers travel second class on trains and economy on planes?
Should MPs be allowed to buy an advance lower price first class ticket instead of a full fare second class ticket?
Should MPs always travel second class?
Again, I am not expressing a view. I have made no claims for travel costs this Parliament.