Political

Dawn Butler MP under fire over her expense claims

Dawn Butler, Labour MP for Brent South, is in the news today for her second home expense claims. The logic of the second homes allowances is that if you are an MP who has a constituency a long way from London then you need to have two homes, one for Parliament and one for the constituency.

That raises some questions about how far away from London your constituency should be before you can claim this money. But Dawn Butler has opened up a different front to the rolling expenses scandal. Because she has a home in her Brent South constituency and then another home in Stratford which … is pretty much the same distance from Westminster as the one in her constituency.

It’s cost taxpayers £37,245 over the last two years. Now if she were an MP from, let’s say, Scotland you’d say, “Fair enough, obviously you can’t daily commute to Parliament from your constituency.” But to live in London (and, note, no Liberal Democrat London MP claims the second home allowance) and for your non-constituency home to be not really any nearer to Parliament than your constituency home? That is, as they say, questionable.

As Norman Baker puts it in The Times: “It is difficult to see how an MP having two homes equidistant from Westminster helps them with their duties.”

Further coverage is in the Evening Standard, which calculates that the difference in travel time to Parliament from the two houses is a matter of a few minutes.

UPDATE: The BBC has filmed a reporter making the two different journeys. You can watch the BBC report on Dawn Butler here.

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