Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle defends extra £10,000 in expenses provided for MPs and staff to work from home
Lindsay Hoyle has insisted the extra money is not going into MPs' pockets.
Lindsay Hoyle has defended the decision by Parliament watchdogs to make an extra £10,000 available to each MP to help them and their staff work from home during the coronavirus outbreak.
The Commons Speaker said it was "wrong" to view the cash as additional money in MPs' pockets.
It emerged earlier this week that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority had authorised the extra cash so it can be spent on new laptops and printers for MPs and their staff, or to pay for additional electricity, heating and phone bills, during the coronavirus outbreak.
The funds come on top of the existing £26,000 a year that MPs can each claim to cover their office costs.
A letter to MPs from Richard Lloyd, the interim chair of Ipsa, said: "We have agreed a series of immediate measures that we hope will provide you with the resources and flexibility to concentrate on your parliamentary duties and support your staff."
Alistair Graham, the former chair of the committee on standards in public life, said he was uneasy with the decision.
He said: "It seems to me a very crude approach. I think the public may be slightly puzzled as to why what looks like a generous payment of this nature has been made without first doing a bit more research into what the actual costs are."
But Mr Hoyle said: "It is wrong to characterise this extra £10,000 allocated by Ipsa as MPs giving themselves additional funds. On the contrary, this money is being used to enable MPs' staff to set up home working to support distressed constituents at a time of crisis.
"Many MPs have seen their casework soar as a direct result of coronavirus. Enabling staff to work remotely is the best and the safest way for them - and the constituents they are in contact with - to communicate and work together during these difficult times.
"The additional budget is there to draw down on if it is needed and required - and it will have to be accounted for in the usual way."
Labour MP Justin Madders said if any of the cash was unspent, it should be spent on local community initiatives for dealing with the impact of Covid-19.
Writing for The House Live, he said: "We are in unprecedented times and there is a need for greater flexibility so we can support local charities and organisations in combating the virus.
"If the money has been allocated to us then it would be a shame if it were just returned to Ipsa’s coffers."