IDS had credit card suspended

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Published: Wednesday 1st July 2015 by The News Editor

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Iain Duncan Smith had his official credit card suspended after running up more than £1,000 in expenses debts, it can be revealed.

The Work and Pensions Secretary was among more a dozen MPs subject to action by the Commons watchdog after failing to show spending was valid.

The details – disclosed in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the Press Association – are likely to prove embarrassing for Mr Duncan Smith, who has previously backed pre-paid cards for benefits claimants to stop them spending public money on the wrong things.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) issues MPs with credit cards for to pay for items such as travel and accommodation.

The politicians then have to prove the spending was genuine by the end of the month, or they build up debts to the watchdog.

According to the FOI response, Ipsa has suspended the cards of 19 MPs since the beginning of this year because they have not settled outstanding sums.

The debts were then recouped by not paying out valid claims filed by the politicians.

Mr Duncan Smith’s card was blocked when he owed £1,057.28. He does not currently have any debt.

Others to have their cards suspended included his Labour opposite number Rachel Reeves, who owed £4,033.63 at the time.

Shadow business minister Toby Perkins was subject to action when he owed £693.30.

Health minister Ben Gummer had his card stopped with £1,290.07 outstanding, defence minister Mark Lancaster had a £600 tab, and former universities minister David Willetts owed £1,172.05.

Disgraced former Labour MP Eric Joyce, who assaulted a fellow MP in a Commons bar, had his card blocked when he owed £12,919.61, and later had his salary docked.

Liberal Democrat Simon Hughes had a stop placed on his card when he owed £826.56.

All have since cleared their debts.

Ipsa also released information about 25 MPs who had sums outstanding as of this week.

DUP MP Ian Paisley owed £13,833.38 on June 29. He previously had his card blocked when his tab hit £6,195.94.

Lib Dems Stephen Gilbert and Mike Crockart had their cards stopped when they owed £2,925.76, and £720.64 respectively. Mr Gilbert owed £13.50 this week and Mr Crockart £90.

An Ipsa spokesman stressed that the debts from June 29 were a “snapshot” and in many cases could merely be awaiting evidence from MPs that they were valid claims.

“An MP may owe an amount to Ipsa for many different reasons, and the fact that an amount is owed does not, in itself, indicate any misuse of the MPs’ Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses,” the spokesman said.

“As part of our credit management programme, MPs are sent financial statements detailing their monthly position with Ipsa. Where MPs have amounts owed to Ipsa, action is taken to recover these amounts.”

Published: Wednesday 1st July 2015 by The News Editor

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