Friday, May 08, 2009

MPs' expenses: Tricks of the trade

Extraordinary claims:

Douglas Alexander claimed £5,183 for storm windows and £3,868 for storm doors

David Miliband claimed almost £200 for a pram but was turned down by the Commons authorities

Margaret Beckett's £600 claim for hanging baskets and other items for her garden was turned down

Gordon Brown used his expenses to pay for some Noah's Ark blinds

Andy Burnham tried to claim back £19.99 for an Ikea bathrobe

Hazel Blears claimed for a stay in the luxury Zetter boutique hotel in Clerkenwell

Geoff Hoon bought two televisions using taxpayers' money

John Prescott used his allowance to install mock Tudor beams on the front of his home

And Jack Straw admitted he sometimes didn't know exactly what he was claiming for. 'Accountancy does not appear to be my strongest suit,' he said.

The most widespread abuses relate to the Additional Costs Allowance, which exists to reimburse MPs for the cost of running a second home, either in their constituency or in London.

Dozens of MPs switch their “second” home from London to their constituency, and sometimes back again, to enable them to carry out extensive renovations or buy household goods for both properties.

Although parliamentary rules state that a second home should be the one where an MP spends the least time, officials in the department that signs off expenses appear powerless to prevent members arbitrarily nominating different addresses at different times. Because all addresses are to be censored when the expenses claims are published, there would have been no way of knowing that such apparent abuses were going on.

Several ministers who have moved into grace-and-favour apartments in London — and who had previously claimed on private London homes — have suddenly decided that their “second” home is in their constituency, so that virtually all of their housing costs are met by the taxpayer. They include Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling and Geoff Hoon.

Other MPs, including Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, nominate their main family home as their “second” home so they can charge the taxpayer for their household bills and mortgage interest payments while living cheaply in flats or even the spare rooms of friends or relatives in London.

In some cases, MPs appear to be guilty of profiteering by spending thousands of pounds doing up flats or houses, charging the taxpayer for “repairs” then selling them on, before starting the whole process again at a new address.

Parliamentary rules forbid MPs from charging for work which “enhances” a property and makes it more saleable, but the details of some claims suggest otherwise; they range from a £14,000 claim for a wet room to £8,000 worth of fitted bookcases.

The Daily Telegraph has also discovered numerous cases of MPs buying furniture, including beds, wardrobes and armchairs, which are delivered to their “first” home and then claimed as expenses for their “second” home. In some cases the claims are queried, before being paid when MPs make assurances they have shifted the items to the other address.


Anonymous said...

Wouldn't you just love to hang the greedy fuckers?

Anonymous said...

Milliband is a millionaire and he dares to try and take £200 from the taxpayers for a pram! These people make you sick.

If the BNP ever needed ammunition to succeed they now have it for both the Euro and the General.

I'm suprised they haven't been lynched.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't you just love to hang the greedy fuckers?

08 May 2009 09:13


Anonymous said...

Oh deary me Labour are out, but when the Tory expenses are revealed, who will be in? My money is on the BNP.