UK & World News
MP Expenses: Attempt To Block New Rent Details
The House of Commons Speaker is trying to block the publication of details of MPs' expenses which could show if they are renting their taxpayer-funded homes to each other.
John Bercow has written to the regulator urging it not to release documents revealing the identities of MPs' landlords for security reasons.
Disclosure would expose the extent to which MPs are taking advantage of a "loophole" which allows them to rent properties to each other.
The concession means it is still possible for MPs to build up property nest eggs at the taxpayer's expense, despite moves to stamp out the practice following the expenses scandal.
Mr Bercow told the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) that its plan to reveal the identities of MPs' landlords had given rise to "grave concerns" about security.
In his letter to Ipsa boss Sir Ian Kennedy, he noted that the watchdog had written to some MPs warning that details were due to be released this Thursday after a Freedom of Information request.
"I understand that the name of their Landlord/Agent will be released along with other personal information," he told Sir Ian.
The Speaker said this had sparked fears that MPs' addresses could be published, creating a "security risk".
"The processing of the data... could involve causing unwarranted damage and distress. I should be grateful if you and your colleagues would reconsider such a plan," he urged.
Security Minister James Brokenshire told Sky News: "I think there is a genuine balance to be struck between the security and privacy of individual members of Parliament and ensuring that there is transparency and there is confidence in the system and it isn't being abused.
"We are very much alive to the issues that were exposed only a few years ago. Clearly if there is evidence of wrongdoing by anyone that should be investigated but I am not sure that is what is being spoken about here."
But Labour MP John Mann said the attempt to prevent the publication of the details appeared to be a "return to the bad old days".
"If MPs are renting from past or current MPs it is right and proper the public is able to know that," he told the paper.
"There is nothing wrong with that, and there is nothing wrong in it being out there in the open. I have no problem in MPs renting it (a flat) out but the public is entitled to know that."
Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, added: "If MPs are again found to have exploited the expenses system, it will be another stain on the reputation of Parliament.
"It was the cry that 'it's all within the rules' combined with attempts to suppress the publication of claims that made the MPs' expenses crisis three years ago so toxic.
"Whilst the rules may not technically prevent MPs from renting properties to one another, it is certainly against the spirit of those rules.
"The public's faith was left in tatters in 2009 and the latest allegations could endanger much of the work that has been done since then to restore public confidence in our politicians.
"It is vital that there is total transparency in all matters relating to MPs' taxpayer-funded expenses and allowances."
A House of Commons spokesman said: "The Speaker's letter to Sir Ian Kennedy, chair of IPSA, relates solely to the security implications of publishing MP rental details based on professional advice and resolutions of the House.
"Neither the Speaker nor the House of Commons has knowledge of MP rental arrangements. The rules governing MPs' accommodation are a matter for IPSA and have been since 2010."
A spokesman for Ipsa told The Telegraph: "We are committed to transparency as is shown by our regular publication of all claims by all MPs. We have a duty to balance that against the risk of compromising security.
"We are currently going through the process of gathering all the relevant information to get that judgment right."
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what do you think?
Really? How can you be happy to whip up a media and public frenzy regarding tax evasion by celebrities with one hand and still be stabbing us in the back with the other ?? Why can't these politicians understand we will swallow most things but not lying and cheating by our so called leaders :-(
Mps are employed by the public and therefore accountable to the public
Pure greed Get shot of the lot of them There isn't one MP who hasn't claimed unjustifiable expences whether it be a fiver for loo rolls because there full of it,or twenty grand to have there most cleaned
There was one MP who didn't claim expenses, George Galloway, and look at the bile that was directed at him by the media and the expenses fiddlers in parliament.
Yes john I forgot about him .plus he's got more backbone than anybody currently in Westminster
And he also put America in there place. Great guy...good impressionist of cats.
The taxpayer is paying them there wages,we want to know where its going.There getting away with to much.
These work shy scroungers eh - what are they like - all on the fiddle and claiming for this and that while us hardworking plebs have to support them and their families.
illeagle immagrants scroungers fraudsters dss rent landlords junkies all cost the tax payer billions every year.and now a nother loopehole that our M.Ps are abusing we as a nation voted these people in to power ,,,,SO AS A NATION WE CAN AS HELL VOTE THEM OUT ..ONLY 1 WORD I CAN THINK OF (THIEFS)
Snouts in troughs.
The reason is that he owns 3 houses and rents them all and pays no Tax on it. He also charges us for all his costs, holidays etc etc so he earns over £350,000 a year and pays no tax and his money is in overseas accounts and from those he is a multi millionaire
Who is 'he' and how do you know 'he' pays no tax?
He was all over the news for it the last couple of years...a non dom or something, basically a tax avoider.
I can't really see the objection against an MP owning a portfolio of property and renting to other MPs. What is objectionable is claiming for a second home, or overnight expenses, when an MPs 'real' home is within easy reach of Parliament.
SECOND HOMES SHOULD BE BANNED.
It didn't take them very long to think up another nice little earner courtesy of the tax payer, buy a house, rent it out to another MP, the taxpayer is in effect paying the mortgage. These are the same people who have cut the housing benefit of the "little" people. These are the same people who quite happily send British soldiers off to die in other countries wars, but use the excuse of security to keep their own worthless skins safe, to keep their scams secret from the public, disgusting creatures, if there are any honest MPs left in Parliament will they stand up and condemn this latest fiddle.
Windows Live User
Bercow should understand fraud cant hide behind a screen of "security". If it exists it must be exposed. Appears our valiant mp's just wont stop will they? No wonder there is no shouting by mp's against companies using tax loopholes. Mp's do the same tricks
MPs are worse than dole scroungers.
The electorate gets the government it deserves. It had an opportunity to turf out this shower at the last election but only did half a job. Personally I'd abolish all "expenses and allowances" but have each constituency fix the remuneration of its MP. If an MP needs a billet in London the cost should come out of the MP's salary. If he wants to commute, the season ticket comes out of his salary. MPs should be in no different position to any other worker.
The electorate, unfortunately are left with a system that has been contrived since its manifestation to keep the powerful, powerful, the rich, rich and the minnows kept as minnows, it is only a complete strip down and rethink of the while system that could truly enable a fair system. This could be invoked with technology where poiical parties would not even be needed and key issues could be mass voted via the Web by the masses.
Here's a problem fix...... Mps can have a travelodge account card. A free rail card. That's the expenses dealt with. A standard salary of let's say 85K No outside jobs allowed, no directors fees. No consultancies or links with construction firms, corporates or weapons contractors. A contributory.pension scheme in line with nhs pensions. Now let's see real people apply for these jobs.
Security concerns my rs. This guy Bercow is as big a crook as Michael Martin who tried to cover up the expenses scandal, and we all know what a cesspit that was when it was revealed. And they wonder why politicians are held in such contempt by the electorate
But people voted for him knowing full well who he was.
And his wife loves a bit of rough...
Malcolm. People voted for the lot of them but it still doesn't make them any less dishonest. How only 5 of the crooks ended up in jail is beyond me. Sacrificial lambs perhaps to save the rest of them and their accounting errors.
The last honest person to enter parliament was guy fawks
I'd like to start a campaign to remove the title "Honourable" from MPs. How do I set out about that? I'd like to see the removal in the commons and the Lords of the use of the terms "The Right Honourable Gentlemen/Lady" and "My Right Honourable Friend". MPs no longer deserve that title, they lost the right to that many years ago. The electorate now see them for what they are, self-serving and purely dis-honourable. How do you start one of those motions that if so many people want a debate, they will discuss it, or is that just another false promise.
That's it. They are called e-petitions. Now can anyone advise me, which would be the most appropriate department to lodge my e-petition.
As M.P's like to say when they infringe further on our civil liberties, "If you have nothing to hide, you dont have to worry". M.P's wanting to cover up potential shady deals? Hmmm