One particularly egregious abuse of MPs’ allowances is not covered by the interim measures Lord Martin-in-waitng announced yesterday as agreed by the party leaders.
The additional cost (or second home) allowance exists in theory to cover the extra cost to an MP of having to maintain a home in both their constituency and at Westminster.
But there is nothing preventing an MP from maintaining their main home somewhere else entirely, and then claiming a second home either in their constituency or in Westminster. Most of us expect to have to move to our place of work. MPs don’t have to do that.
This practice of having the main home somewhere else completely is apparently quite common. That must be true, because we have the word of the great Iain Dale for that (or Dorries Dale as he will henceforth be known here). He told us in a comment on this blog:
Craig, there are many MPs who don’t have their first homes in Westminster or in their constituencies. It can be for a number of reasons. In her case it was to do with her family.
I’ve made clear that if it was me I would have my main home in the constituency, as I promised in North Norfolk. But what is right for one individual might not be right for the other. Surely the point is that any claim on the taxpayer has to be for a consituency home or in Westminster. Margaret Moran’s was neither, which is why you were wrong to draw the analogy. Perhaps you’d be good enough to admit that.
Now it seems to me that, if people are stupid enough to elect an MP who won’t live in the constituency, we can’t stop that. But I can see no reason at all why the taxpayer should pay for a second home anywhere, for an MP who insists on having their main home neither in Westminster nor in their constituency.
(The case of Nadine Dorries is an example of this and in fact still worse. She did in fact have her main home in the constituency, but Nadine Dorries lied about it and pretended her main home is in the Cotswolds, in order to defraud the taxpayer of a great deal of money for her “Second home”).
This system of absentee MPs funded by the taxpayer is a major abuse and must be stopped immediately.