Angry MPs are to condemn an expenses system designed to crack down on sleaze scandals, following the resignation of the head of the allowances watchdog.
David Winnick (Lab Walsall North) will lead a Commons debate attacking the new regime, which some MPs claim may prevent them from phoning constituents and may force them to sack staff.
He is one of the most vocal critics of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), which was set up to administer expenses following public anger at MPs’ expenses claims.
In a sign that pressure from MPs is already having an effect, it emerged at the weekend that IPSA’s operations director, Nigel Gooding, had resigned.
Mr Gooding confirmed that he left his post three months early, but denied he had been hounded out by MPs.
He said: “I have left the job for the sake of my health and sanity. I was given the option of doing another three months with Ipsa but I felt I was just too drained to carry on.”
Mr Winnick is leading a Commons debate on Wednesday where MPs will vent their frustrations.
IPSA has ruled that 15 per cent of all phone calls made from an MP’s office, including those made by secretaries and other staff, are to be classed as personal calls, which means MPs have to pay them out of their own salary.
But politicians warn that this means they will have to limit the amount of calls their assistants make, limiting their ability to contact and help constituents. They also insist the claim that 15 per cent of office phone calls are personal is untrue and an insult to their staff.
IPSA has also set a maximum amount that MPs can claim to rent a constituency office, based on a national average.
But MPs say rent in some constituencies is simply much higher than others, particularly in wealthy parts of the country.
And IPSA has also ruled that no MP is allowed to pay a full-time employee less than £15,000.
Some assistants currently receive less and, as there is a limit on the total amount MPs can claim for salaries, it means some staff will need to be fired so that those who are left can receive pay rises.
Under the old system, office costs were paid directly by the House of Commons authorities, but the new system means MPs pay bills and IPSA then pays money into their personal bank accounts.