Thursday, May 21, 2009

Should the taxpayer be buying ginormous houses for MPs?

A Tory MP who has been forced down over expenses has claimed that people were jealous of his big house. Of course there might be some envy flying around - but in general people accept that if you pay for things yourself you can have as large a house as you like. It's only when you get ordinary taxpayers on low incomes to pay for it through their taxes that it becomes a problem.

The second home allowance was designed to help MPs conduct their parliamentary duties and look after their constituents as well as attend Parliament. They can have as large a main house as they like, as they are paying for it themselves, but do they need a massive second home? Wouldn't a modest three-bed or four-bed in the constituency do to enable them to conduct their constituency duties?

And we come to David Cameron's £750,000 second home in Oxfordshire. The Daily Mail, actually raised this issue last year. It's worth having a look at the photo of Cameron's house.

Does he really need something that large to carry out his constituency duties and should he have charged the taxpayer for it?

Cameron bought the second home when he got elected in 2001. Here's what Cameron has claimed on his second home alowances since then (mostly mortgage interest):

2001/2: £18,009
2002/3: £19,722
2003/4: £20,328
2004/5: £20,902
2005/6: £21,359
2006/7: £20,563
2007/8: £19,626

Total: £140,509

No doubt Tories will swarm on here accusing me of class envy - but he's welcome to have as big a house as possible as long as I don't have to pay for it. It's not clear to me that he needed such a large house to do his constituency duties, he clearly bought the biggest one he could at the taxpayers expense and clearly intends to make a profit from it by selling after he has left parliament whenever that is. Thus he is as guilty of taking the taxman for a ride as some of the other cases we have heard.


Quietzapple said...

Quite true, Snowflake: Pinnochio Cameron is a greedy and slippery eel, to obtain a repas Mr Clean by paying back his wisteria pruning bill, sacking MacKay his aide from that job only, and scouring a few of the tories who were on the take. We shall see how he responds to the new list of MPs' "interests" - is it the remuneration AND the time spent which will be highlighted?

Small wonder he effectively vetoed Gordon Brown's proposal shortly before the storm broke, that MPs be paid an attendance allowance per night spent away from their home outside London, if they represent Non London constituencies and actually attended the Commons.

Those who are adjudged to need a London home should receive a set allowance I suppose, if a per diem rate is not thought appropriate. Those who, on their first election, cannot manage financially might be lent money to enable them to, if standard money markets will not.

This might be necessary if a by election such as that in Speaker Martin's seat brings in a new MP who may not sit in Westminster for a whole year.

Anomalies and exceptions should not dictate policies, nor should they be permitted to desecrate every aspect of our political system as has become the popular rant.

DevonChap said...

Glass house and stones. Shaun Woodward (multi-millionare Labour minister) claimed £100,000 over the last 4 years on his second home allowance, claiming the full amount of £23,083 the most recent year for which full records are available. So Cameron is better value than him.

I agree, I don't want to pay for someone to have a house bigger than mine, but non London MPs do need 2 homes and this is Cameron's second home (His London house is worth more and he spent tens of thousands to convert it to suit Ivan, which a dodgy MP might have been tempted to stiff the taxpayer for). He kept within the spirit of the rules as they were set when he claimed. Try again.

broncodelsey said...

'Does he really need something that large to carry out his constituency duties and should he have charged the taxpayer for it?'

I think you may find that Cameron bought this house when his severely disabled son was alive,with the round the clock care that he needed plus his two other kids,I don't think that a 3 bedroomed semi would have had sufficient space somehow,a bit overcrowded trying to fit 6 people into 3 bedrooms.

Does Gordon Brown or Alistair Darling or Jack Straw really need 3houses all charged to the taxpayer?

Can you please explain why Tony Blair remortgaged his constituency home for £296,000 almost 10 times what he paid for it,months before he bought his town house in London for £ 3.65 million?

Does Hoone really need a property empire at the taxpayers expense?

Does Blears,Darling,Balls,Cooper really need to keep on 'flipping'their numerous properties to ensure they get the maximum from the taxpayer?

Do the Keenes really need the taxpayer to pay for a flat for them in Westminster when their constituencies (Brentford and Feltham) are within easy reach of Westminster?

Does the taxpayer really need to pay for a second home for Cruddas in Notting Hill Gate when his Dagenham constituency is on the Underground network?Is the 30 minute trip on the underground too inconvenient for this man of the people?

Does Sean Woodward really need to make such large claims in view of his extreme wealth?

Small wonder that Harman with the support of Brown & Martin faught tooth and nail to block each and every attempt to publish MP's expenses.
Not forgetting Brown's epic YouTube appearance when his panacea for the expenses issue was to pay MP's for turning up for work,how idiotic was that?I mean the proposal and not his girating forced smiles on camera.

Quietzapple said...

Of the Devon Tories Steen usually seemed one of the more decent, Mrs Thatcher's minions regarded him as almost as semi-detached as John Biffen.

I think his point re the prurience and nosey parkering aspects of the revelations is a good one.

I would far rather that the matter had been referred to the DPP & police for investigation and prosecutions, and also for the H o C to take appropriate action, than for the parties to be pushed into what may well be very uneven and rough justice.

The SAS officer who fenced the disk around Fleet St, and sold bits before the Dully Tele bit, should be in prison in my view. We may be quite sure that, apart from other factors, the redacted and hopefully more accurate HM document on MPs' expenses will not sell so well as it might.

He is a Tory, and consulted tory friends before proceeding to acquire the information from his spy in the fees office. The intent is clearly tendentious.

I do hope that the CPS /Met committee does decide to prosecute those who are guilty of various crimes, and that private prosecutions are funded where they do not.

I far prefer democracy and rule of law, to hue and cry based on the Dully Tele's tendentious propaganda take on the unredacted information stolen from the fees office, and the operation of bureaucracies of even the estimable Labour Party, and the droit de seigneur of Leaders, in Cameron's case, keen to protect his own enbonpoint.

Anonymous said...

Cameron is quoted in the paper today as saying that he would do his job for half the salary!!

Now this is where the very well cushioned rich let us all down, they have no idea how other people run their lives, do they?

richard.blogger said...

Very pertinent, snowflake5. I cannot understand how a multi-millionaire like Cameron could have the brass neck to ask the public to pay his mortgage.

Anonymous said...

And then again, Cameron does not even know how many houses he owns. See this on LabourList.

eager said...

You deleted my last question sbout Gordon Brown claiming 2nd home allowance whilst living in government supplied accommodation so I'll ask another one.

If second jobs detract from an MP's ability to do his/her job properly how did Gordon Brown manage to write a full length book about "Courage" while he was Chancellor of the Exchequer.

snowflake5 said...

eager - I haven't deleted anything, perhaps you didn't submit properly?

Regarding G Brown's seond home allowance - as I'm sure you know, when the Blairs had baby Leo, they took over all the accomodation in Downing street, which had to house Mr and Mrs Blair, their three teenage children, the new baby, plus Mrs Blair's mother, who moved in to help with the baby. A very big family to be squashed into the quarters of No 10, which is why Brown moved out and gave them his accomodation too. (Blair had to stay in Downing Street for security reasons).

Thus Brown didn't have any "government accomodation" to live in at all.

Broncodelsey - you don't need a palace to accomodate a severely disabled child - or is it Tory policy to give every family in Britain with a disabled child a mansion at the taxpayers expense? No? Whyever not? What's good enough for Cameron should be good enough for everyone, no?

DevonChap - I agree Shaun Woodward shouldn't have claimed. But then again he is not flouncing about pretending he is whiter than white. Unlike Cameron who would like people to believe he is "very angry" even though he was troughing with the rest of them. As for the "it was in the rules" defence - so Nuremburg. Try again.

Quietzapple said...

I'm so glad Gordon Brown's brother Andrew, who was also libeled by the usual right wing abusers on a Scottish paper (was it Gerald Warner?) has succeeded in suing Associated Newspapers.

A pity, but hardly a surprise now the Guardinid is a Lib-dem/Tory paper that there was no blog I saw devoted to the recent lies of the tories and their billionaire media masters.

Tom Watson got some dosh too:

There is dispute as to whether Paul Staines' mate Iain Dale, who is thought to be TV friendly, apologised promptly or not.

Abuse and lies are the standard modus operandi of the right: check out Lumley too . . .

While the BBC repeats almost anything Dully Tele and the like say, often with their tv ready rep in the studio to nod encouragement, a truth defecit which may well be punctured before the next election is growing . . .
like an overinflated lilo . . .

Quietzapple said...

Unclear why Cameron, who lives with his family in London, needed anything more than a flat in his constituency.

Blears, who is reviled for having had the Fees Office insist on making her London one bed flat her principal residence presumably should have gone for something larger had she been playing the market and the public for suckers, as Cameron quite clearly was.

It was amusing when Cameron said he wass worried that people might think he didn't know how many houses he has:

The ref to the Times interview is there too.

People may well object to paying for a £750,000 second home for a multi millionaire, especially when he doesn't know how many homes he has, and thinks that he can secure his bicycle by looping the chain attached to it over a bollard, AND HE WANTS TO RUN OUT COUNTRY AND STYLES HIMSELF AS LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION TREASURY FRONT BENCH!!!!!

Bring back Tommy Cooper.