Friday, July 23, 2010

IPSA Exposed

This is a video of Ken Olisa, a member of the IPSA Board, being grilled by Andrew Neil. What aa slippery character. If this man is the best they could get to be on the IPSA Board God alone knows what the quality of the rest of the applicants was like.


strapworld said...

Nice tie, though, Iain!

I do think bow ties would suit you well!

I hope Andrew Neil takes over from that awful chairman Dimbleby ASAP on QT

richard pennington said...

i think it's the combination of the tan and the bow tie that makes him look shifty -probably unfairly! No doubt IPSA will now invest £90000 on media training!!

Roger Thornhill said...

Director of HR, Head of... etc etc of a group that administers under 700 people who all do the same sort of job, who all report into the same building...


Sounds like someone was given the QANGO brief and said "RIIIIGHT...." rubbing hands and kicking of the predicable bureaucracy. FAIL.

wv: butspo IKYN

Anonymous said...

Yes, I saw it and echo your words! Surely this Quango should be just the opposite of a bloated,overpaid bunch of people who apparently can't ev en get it to operate properly.This is a perfect opportunity for the Coalition Govt. to reform it and show they mean what they say.

The Grim Reaper said...

He's almost as bad as Tom Harris.

Still, at least you allow comments on your blogposts about IPSA. Unlike the Glaswegian blogger, who is no longer as good as he used to be.

Unsworth said...

Bow tie. Enough said.

Unknown said...

The organisation created to oversee MPs' expenses costs more than the old system where the MPs flipped and fiddled and troughed unchecked...

Brilliant - Sir Humphrey would be proud!

jamescbartlett said...

The best thing about IPSA is that it hopefully makes MPs realise what it's like to be on the receiving end of a barely functioning quango and would hopefully go some way to encouraging the whole house, no matter which party, to think twice about inflicting these organisations on the general public.

Little Black Sambo said...

A lot of what Neill implied about IPSA would apply even more strongly to the BBC. How many people did they send to Glastonbury, to the Olympics in China, to the football in South Africa, etc? How much does their website cost?

Anonymous said...

I find it amusing to see that the fire is now turned on the QUANGO set up to stop waste and fraud - because IT now is exhibiting all the signs of the flaws it was set up to correct.

Shades of Animal Farm....

Some time ago Labour turned its self serving fire on a Tory MP who had employed his son. I said at the time this would unearth a whole can of worms, and I was right.

Clearly there has been some fraud which was disgraceful - that Smith, the Home Secretary, could make the arrangements she did was a disgrace as well. But we now see an expensive and wasteful sledgehammer to crack a nut.

Typical civil service ...

Jabba the Cat said...

Has anyone noticed that he looks remarkably similar to the oily Egyptian shopkeeper?

Lady Finchley said...

The Fees Office not only dealt with MPs and their staff but with everybody's pay on the House of Commons Estate - Clerks, Catering, the Tours Office etc. - too bad Andrew Neil didn't know that because he could have socked it to him on that as well. Benedict Brogan also did a piece in the Time about IPSA and hopefully the tables are starting to turn. It is a disgraceful system that doesn't work and has penalised staff and MPs who behave with integrity.

Windsor Tripehound said...

Why do we need an IPSA anyway?

Isn't it simpler just to publish ALL MP's expenses claims and leave it to the public to check them F.O.C?

Unsworth said...

@ richard pennington

He can probably dispose of the bow tie fairly easily - the 'tan' is rather more of a problem.

Brian said...

Only gynaecologists need wear bow ties.

Vijay said...

There's a lot wrong with IPSA, but he seemed to actually answer all of Andrew Neil's questions - something I don't think I've ever seen a politician do.

I don't see how you can call him a "slippery character" on the basis of that video, unless you are referring to his bow tie and tan, of course.

Scary Mary said...

Iain. You're looking to get into the Lords aren't you? You've stopped the seat hunt, you're doing the bidding of MPs attacking IPSA, lots of loyalism.....

Iain Dale said...

Yeah, that'd be about right. Fool.

Unknown said...

I have just picked up a Google Alert reference to your blog and I thought that I'd drop you a quick line in response to the comments on it.
First let me apologise to your bloggers for my 'tan' which is an undeniable matter of record and one for which I entirely blame my parents.
Secondly, I'm dreadfully sorry that some of your commentators don't like my choice of ties. Not sure on what grounds, but at least in these sartorially sloppy times, I am wearing neck gear!
Thirdly, I'm really sorry that you felt that I was in any way slippery. I did my best to answer Andrew's questions and I even pointed out that his central assertion - that we cost 3x the old, discredited Fees Office was wrong and that, even though we have considerably more responsibilities than they did, WE ACTUALLY COST LESS.
For those for whom IPSA is an obscure subject, I’d point out that those responsibilities include regulation of the systems, compliance with it, paying the salaries and pensions of MPs' and their staff, setting MPs pay levels and, of course managing the expenses system itself.
That system has been described, elsewhere as 'not working',
That is incorrect. By the day of my interview, we had paid the expenses of the 350 or so MPs who had claimed them, lent or advanced around £1m to MPs so that they didn’t need to be out of pocket in setting up their offices and handled an incredible 6000 phone calls and 6000 emails!
One of your commentators suggested that we compare MPs expenses and IPSA's performance with the BBC's presumably because that comparison would give a sense of scale to the bureaucratic complexity of IPSA’s scheme.
Well I have made the comparison; and while our Expense Rules are contained in 30 pages, the BBC's take only 20. But of course the BBC’s policy only deals with Travel & Entertainment.
We have to support 650 highly individual people and their staff which brings the number of users up to 2000. For that group we have to pay their Travel and Entertainment PLUS support paying the costs of renting and running more than 600 offices, pay the rent or mortgages of over 400 MPs, look after extra payments for children, disability, child care, etc. All of this has to be managed to ensure that the public is getting value for money and that it is being spent appropriately. We also have to maintain the highest standards because not only is everything we do carried out (quite rightly) in full public gaze, but because, unlike the old discredited system we are required to publish every detail of every MP’s expenses so that we, the public, can see how our money is being spent.
No more duck houses, no more moats and no more John Lewis lists.
I am proud to have helped create a system that is fair workable and transparent and to have done so from scratch in six short months between our appointment and the General Election.
For those of your readers who are interested in the facts and not just the media soundbites, I recommend a visit to our website where the detail of our work and accomplishments is laid out.
For those not interested in the detail I would merely close by reminding you that IPSA’s job (laid down by the Law passed by Parliament) was to ensure that the £175,000,000 that it costs for us to support MPs each year is not spent in such a way so that we never again slide down the slippery slope of an expenses scandal that made us the laughing stock of the world.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Iain Dale said...

Ken, credit to you for posting a comment. At least you have the courage to defend the indefensible!

If I were you I would read Tom Harris MP's blog and then try to defend IPSA's behaviour. He catalogues the real hardhip IPSA is causing.

I wanted to be an MP. I am glad I didn't get a seat now, as I think IPSA is actually helping make the job of an MP even more impossible than it was before.

And just as a bit of advice, steer clear of bow ties when on TV. They just make you look a bit of a prat.

Unknown said...

Iain - thanks.
I have come to realise in the few months since I was appointed that the world inside the Westminster Village is very different from that outside.
Insiders seem to have forgotten the duck houses and moats, flipping and fiddling, that undermined the people’s confidence in Westminster and damaged our nation’s reputation abroad. This amnesia exists despite the almost daily reminders – see today’s NoW headline “Greed, shamed politicians at it again in second home sell-off”
We should be measured not, as per Tom Harris’ blog, against silly administrative errors, but whether the UK now has a system of MPs’ expenses that will avoid a repetition of the problems of the past and will allow MPs and the public to move on to deal with bigger issues such as the war, the recession, the deficit, etc.
Last year Parliament ended 300+ years of self-regulation of pay and expenses and handed it over to an independent regulator – not an outsourced payroll department.
The Board was appointed in December and charged with implementing a system by the unknown date of the next election. In the intervening 5+ months, as required by the Law, we consulted widely, designed a scheme, bought an off the shelf IT system (not a purpose-built one), hired new staff, transferred staff from the Fees Office, found a building and started paying the salaries, pension contributions and expenses of MPs and their staff. On time.
We have also been flexible as unintended consequences and simple errors came to light once the system went live.
Last year, the Office of Government Commerce, who review Government systems implementations, judged our task as “well nigh impossible”. They came back last month to review progress and declared that the “impossible had been delivered”. See
Our system is fair, workable and transparent and guarantees that the UK won’t ever return to the bad old days.
That some don’t like it is an inevitable consequence of such rapid and radical change.
But that change resulted from MPs’ behaviour – IPSA is part of the solution, not part of the problem.
That our detractors’ arguments are based largely on myth and not on hard evidence is a sad commentary on the state of political debate in Britain today. For those interested in discovering the height of the myth mountain, I would point them to our response to some of the more extreme claims made at the Westminster Hall debate on IPSA on June 16th (see: )
I’m an international businessman and I saw how the damage done to the UK’s reputation abroad by the scandal. Our ability to punch above our weight in the world’s markets depends on us maintaining our standing as a highly moral country. Instead Britain was becoming an object of ridicule.
I applied to join IPSA because I felt I had a civic duty, not just to complain, but to do something. Not for the power – there is none – or the money – all of my fees go to charity.
The same reasons that you stood for Parliament and run your blog.
As with any job, the decision to be an MP or not should never, ever, be about expenses.
Being a public servant is just that –serving one’s fellow citizens.
And all public servants must account for the use of public money.
That’s what our scheme does.
Any extra ‘bureaucracy’ that MPs have to endure now is a price worth paying in order to repair the damage done to all MPs’ by the duck house, moat, flipping and fiddling few who abused the system.
My hope is that debate on the issue of MPs’ expenses, and later, MPs’ pay, can be around the facts, stripped of hyperbole and without gratuitous commentary on ties or tans.
To demonstrate my commitment to openness and to test yours to the role of facts over rhetoric, I would like to invite you to be my guest at IPSA. You will see how simple the system is and meet staff to hear the scope of their job and the details of the unwelcome challenges which they face every day.