UK Politics

IPSA to stop publishing MPs' travel details amid 'attack' fears

Houses of Parliament Image copyright AFP

Parliament's expenses watchdog has agreed to stop publishing details of travel claims amid MPs' fears it could put them at risk of attack.

The issue was raised by Labour MP Chris Bryant in the Commons on Thursday who said it was "entirely inappropriate" as it could reveal MPs' home addresses.

Details of where MPs travel to and from have been published by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.

IPSA says MPs will now just be asked for the date, cost and miles travelled.

Following a board meeting in the wake of last week's terrorist attack in Westminster, IPSA wrote to MPs: "In light of recent events, we have decided that we will now no longer publish any information about the places MPs travel to or from when they claim mileage.

"In addition, we plan no longer to publish MPs' landlords' names. We have never published full addresses. We will look at how we might redact the names of landlords already on our website."

Security concerns have grown following the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox last year and the terror attack in Westminster on 22 March in which five people, including attacker Khalid Masood, were killed.

'Entirely inappropriate'

MPs outside London can claim for journeys between their constituencies and Westminster and all MPs can claim 45p a mile for travel within their constituencies. They have been asked to give the purpose, origin and destination of the journey and distance travelled in miles.

But there have been complaints that publishing the start and finish point of regular journeys could allow an MPs' address to be identified, particularly in rural areas with few homes.

And Labour's Chris Bryant told MPs in the Commons on Thursday: "IPSA seem absolutely determined that they will publish information regarding MPs which will reveal their home addresses.

"I think this is entirely inappropriate and I hope the government will stand ready to legislate if necessary."

Police advice

Commons Leader David Lidington told MPs the matter was "under active review" by IPSA and said: "I would certainly hope that they take action at the IPSA board to ensure that any such material that might identify a member and put a member at risk of possible attack would not be published in future."

In updated advice to MPs in February, IPSA said it "redacted all sensitive and personal information" which might threaten MPs' security and advised MPs that they did not have to include postcodes or full addresses.

An IPSA spokesman said: "We take the security of MPs, their staff and their families very seriously. We reviewed our publications policy over the summer, and checked it with the police who agreed that it did not put MPs' security at risk. We will always listen to police advice about security matters."

But he added that they had reviewed the policy "following the recent tragic events in Westminster".

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority was set up as a response to the MPs' expenses scandal of 2009 - providing greater transparency and replacing the discredited self-regulating expenses system - but has faced criticism from some MPs.

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