Posted By: Will Rhodes
Now, you can call me a cynic if you wish, but…
Although living within the rules of parliament – so not making it anything illegal or anything like that – would you call your first home the place where you stay with husband and kids or your sister’s place?
The rules stipulate:
[…] that the main residence is where the MP “spends more nights than any other”.
OK – so the Home Secretary stays at her sister’s most night? OK – that is fine, I suppose. But the second home allowance is for MPs that live too far away from London to commute.
Jacqui Smith’s ‘family home’ is in Redditch.
Ms Smith can claim up to £24,000 a year for that house in Redditch because she has told the Commons her sister’s house in London is her main residence.
Ms Smith stays at her sister’s home when she is London – normally Monday to Thursday – the Mail on Sunday reports.
But you can drive from her own town to London in about 2 hours – don’t the ordinary mortals commute that on a daily basis? And if she had the odd thing to do in London then wouldn’t it be cheaper to the tax payer if, when she needed to do so, she stay in a 3/4 star hotel?
This is, after all, a time when people have to tighten their belts. But that said…
How is it that she, like so many in the high echelons of parliament, charge the public purse with a bill of £116,000 in second home expenses – known as the Additional Costs Allowance – over several years. For the home where her husband and children live?
I know she is a career woman – but so are many others – they don’t get to stay at ‘their kids’ unless they pay out of their own pocket.
And Mizz Smith is paying her sister a good rent, not a peppercorn rent – which is good for her sister I suppose, I have no idea what her sister does; job wise, but it is very expensive living in London.
Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, who is the party’s Transport spokesman, said he intended to ask the Commons authorities to look again at the designation of first and second homes.
He said: “While Ms Smith may have kept to the rules, she has not stuck to the spirit of the regulations.
“Most of the members of the public looking at this case will conclude that if the home secretary lives in Redditch that’s where her house is, that’s where her family is, and that’s not her second home.
“In my view there ought to be a simple question… put to members of parliament, where do you spend most of your time, where are your children going to school, where do you regard as your base, other questions like that – such as where is your family?”