This is very interesting. The line on Sinn Fein’s expenses for their abstaining MPs from Sir George Young today in Parliament is no longer a matter for the Government but for the newly Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA).
Why is that interesting? Well, because, so far as I can see, the IPSA’s only role is to decide whether the expenses are legitimate, not who can claim. The inclusion of funding for Sinn Fein was taken by Parliament under the direction of the then Secretary of State for Wales, etc. Peter Hain.
It’s also presumably what the current Secretary of State had in mind back in April, when he noted (H/T the DUP Press Office):
“I think that it is inconceivable that incoming Conservative MPs would vote to continue paying millions of pounds of public money to elected members who do not take their seats.”
Some Tories have previously suggested to Slugger that it’s being put on the back burner because it’s not a priority for the coalition. But Young’s line is close to implying (without quite saying it) that they cannot undo it, because its the IPSA responsibility is bizarre to say the least.
And pretty close to Father Jack Hackett’s immortal words: “That would be an ecumenical matter…”
It will give the DUP another free hit against their local partners in the UUP. But that may not overly concern the Tories in London who may feel that the other end of UCU-NF barely returned an effort for all that lovely Tory money that was spent.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty