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Chloe Smith's parliamentary credit card suspended 14 times in the last three years

PUBLISHED: 08:41 09 May 2019 | UPDATED: 10:27 09 May 2019

Norwich North Conservative MP Chloe Smith Photo: Uk Parliment

Norwich North Conservative MP Chloe Smith Photo: Uk Parliment

Uk Parliment

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith had her parliamentary credit card suspended 14 times in the space of three years for breaking the rules on expenses.

It was revealed by the Telegraph, who won a battle to release the information, which showed the cards of 377 MPs, including Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson, had been suspended.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) tried to prevent the disclosure, saying it would have a "chilling effect" on its relations with MPs.

But a High Court judge reversed the decision and said the risk of "embarrassing" MPs was not enough to keep the information a secret.

A statement issued by the office of Ms Smith, who is on maternity leave, said: "All of these instances are down to either the historic paper-based receipt system that Ipsa formelry ran, which caused delays, or by Ipsa making overpayments incorrectly to suppliers.

"Chloe only claims expenses within the rules."

Credit card for MPs were introduced after the expenses scandal to help monitor spending. MPs used to have to spend their own money and claim it back, but they did not have to provide receipts for some claims under £250, which meant the system could be abused.

The credit cards are suspended if MPs break spending rules, such as failing to provide receipts, spending outside of the rules or not paying back money for claims which were not eligible.

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Ms Smith's card was suspended 14 times since the 2015 general election.

But a spokesman said this was a case of bad administration, rather than anything more sinister.

On one occasion Ms Smith's card was suspended for a rental payment which had to be repaid.

Her spokesman said this was due to an extra payment erroneously being made to the landlord of her old constituency office when her team moved premises.

But that had since been rectified and repaid.

He said: "We are not claiming anything we should not have been claiming."

And he put other suspensions down to not getting card reconciliations to Ipsa in time.

"I don't think that should be a problem going forward," he said, with a new system allowing them to be sent digitally.

Suspending cards is the most serious measure Ipsa can take against MPs.

Ruth Evans, Ipsa chair, said: "Ten years ago, the difficulty of having politicians self-regulate their pay and expenses became all too clear. It led to the establishment of Ipsa. Since then, Ipsa has established a clear set of rules for MPs to follow and enforced them fairly."

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