Friday 19 October 2012
by Rory MacKinnon
Dozens of greedy MPs were caught with their hands in the till today, claiming rent on expenses while letting out their own London homes.
Disgraced former defence secretary Liam Fox, Communities Minister Don Foster, and Labour frontbenchers Andy Burnham, Jim Murphy and Chris Bryant are among wrapped up in the rent racket.
MPs can claim up to £20,000 a year for London accommodation.
But the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) said it didn’t break the rules.
It’s similar to the now-outlawed practice of claiming for mortgage repayments on barely used second homes, which shadow chancellor Ed Balls and then home secretary Jacqui Smith were caught doing in 2009.
Commons Speaker John Bercow has written to Ipsa urging it not to release official documents of MPs’ landlords, claiming it could put politicians in danger.
Ipsa said it had received an FOI request for this information and was still considering how to respond.
Mr Bercow had to repay more than £6,000 in 2009 after being caught switching his “second home” to avoid capital gains tax on a series of property sales.
Ipsa chairman Sir Ian Kennedy insisted it “would not, under any circumstances, release the full address” of an MP.
But they would release the details of landlords and suppliers of goods and services where MPs had claimed them as expenses, he said.
Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn told the Morning Star the rent wheeze was “wrong, plain wrong – period.”
There had been “a suggestion” following the 2008 scandal of offering MPs accommodation in a state-owned block of flats in lieu of expenses – but it was difficult to legislate for individual needs, especially when an MP had a family.
The activities revealed today were a betrayal of the public trust, he said.
“What defence do these MPs offer for this behaviour?
“I’m disappointed – to put it mildly,” he said.
Credit: Morning Star