Monday, 7 March 2016

Morecambe MP David Morris Had Official "Credit Card" Suspended

14 MPs - including Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris - have had their taxpayer-funded credit cards blocked after running up debts worth £27,000.

The news breaks just one month after David Morris called on the Labour leader of Lancaster City Council to resign after "mismanaging" the council's finances.

The Indpendent newspaper (among others) reports that a Freedom of Information Act request revealed the action was carried out by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), which issues MPs with credit cards to pay for a variety of items such as travel, accommodation and stationery.

MPs are issued with credit cards which they can use for travel and other valid expenses. They are required to justify each item to Ipsa within a month, or they build up debts to the watchdog. The sums are recouped by suspending the cards and not paying out valid expenses claims, or in instalments from the MP's salary.

David Morris's card was suspended in December, when he owed £12,240.

The Daily Telegraph reports that Mr Morris says Ipsa had initially failed to process the transactions properly and later discovered an overspend in office costs of nearly £5,000.

The Morecambe MP said the expenses claimed for were all permissible claims and "were legitimate office costs incurred by carrying out my parliamentary duties to my constituents."

Unlike other credit card users, they are not charged interest even if they take months to clear a debt. The Independent newspaper reports that according to an Ipsa spokesman, that is because “technically, it is not a credit card: it’s a payment card”.

The Indpendent's report on the matter suggests the row is a sign that an MP’s word is no longer taken on trust as it was before 2008, when lax rules allowed a handful of MPs to engage in fraud, while numerous others put in highly questionable expenses claims, which blew up into a scandal when the details became public.

In February, the Lancaster Guardian reported Morecambe MP David Morris had called for the resignation of Lancaster City Council leader Eileen Blamire over proposed cuts to local services, after Coun Blamire said the Conservative MP “has his head in the sand” over “appalling” cuts to local government funding.

Mr Morris hit back saying the council was mismanaging its finances and “has no vision and no scope”.

"I want Lancaster City Council to be in a position by 2020 to manage its money, rather than the financial mismanagement I’m seeing," he said, after claims he was ignoring how the government's funding cuts were affecting the area.

David Morris: Full Statement on Ipsa

"The card was suspended during a process of dealing with IPSA’s chief executive to get to the bottom of card payments which had not been processed by IPSA which led to an historic office costs overspend.

"This overspend happened due to numerous admitted errors by IPSA with their system but under the scheme any budget overspends must be personally reimbursed by the Member from their own pocket.

"This issue has now been resolved and the amount agreed as owed is being paid back by myself from my own pocket.

"I must stress that these expenses claimed for were all permissible claims and were legitimate office costs incurred by carrying out my parliamentary duties to my constituents."

• David Morris Official web site:

• Find David Morris MP on Facebook here. He doesn't allow comments from people who might disagree with him. You can also follow him on Twitter

MPs Affected by Payment Card Suspension

• Angela Crawley (SNP) Card suspended: 25 Jan 2016 Amount owed when card  suspended: £2,152.68 Amount owed as of  23 February: £2,152.68

• Angus MacNeil (SNP) 15 December 2015; £950.70; Repaid in full

• Angus Robertson (SNP)  15 December 2015; £1,165.26; Repaid in full

• Stewart Hosie (SNP) 15 December 2015; £3,446.95; Repaid in full

• Stuart Donaldson (SNP)  3 November 2015; £33.93; Repaid in full

• Natalie McGarry (Independent) 25 January 2016; £2,720.04; £2,370.30

• David Morris (Tory) 8 December 2015; £12,240.03; £4,919.37

• John Stevenson (Tory) 15 December 2015; £608.90;

• Repaid in full Hywel Williams (Plaid Cymru) 3 November 2015; £2,183.11; Repaid in full

• Ian Paisley (DUP) 3 November 2015; £27,766.63; £20,337.06

• Jon Cruddas (Labour) 15 December 2015; £2,967.25; £1,483.61

• Liam Byrne (Labour) 29 January 2016; £1,189.52; Repaid in full

• Owen Smith (Labour) 25 January 2016; £953.42;  Repaid in full

• Simon Danczuk (Labour)  25 January 2016; £595.81; Repaid in full

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