Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ancram, Conway and Flint all in second homes hot water

It's all kicking off on the "sleaze" front today. "Bearwood Corporate Services" donations to be formally investigated. Chris Grayling in expenses row.

And the News of the World unearths (or perhaps "recycles") a trio of second homes issues:

-Derek Conway's £85,000 claim for his "second home" which he had before he was re-elected to parliament in 2001 and which is just 14 miles from his other home.

-Michael Ancram is the 13th Marquess of Lothian and Earl of Ancram, has an inherited Wiltshire pile with no mortgage on it, plus his 3-times the national average wage plus expenses and allowances. And still he gets £50,000 on top of all that from the taxpayer for repairs to his inherited family home, including money for the removal of moss from a wall.

-Caroline Flint is accused of something I can't understand.

This drip-drip of revelations has been going on for years now. None of these characters will be found to have broken the rules because the rules are written on one piece of A4 with a .48 font. "Brief" in other words.

Once again, it is urgent that the whole second homes allowance is radically reformed. There are no other professions I can think of where you receive a second home allowance. Certainly not an allowance for repairs or furnishings. It would be far simpler to simply require MPs to pay for such things out of their salaries with, perhaps. a bog standard second homes pay-out for constituencies beyond a defined radius of Westminster.

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