For the Conservatives, today’s papers bring bad news for four different MPs: the MP couple who were able to carry on claiming for the cost of a home even after they had paid for it, the one who employed someone at the other end of the country and there’s more about Derek Conway.
[UPDATE: And then there is the case of Anthony Steen…]
Husband and wife MP couple, the Wintertons, are facing scrutiny for continuing to claim money for the cost of the second home after the mortgage had been paid off. As the role of being an MP involves work split between your constituency and Westminster, most MPs end up needing to live in two places and – given the need for a second home has been caused by the job – they are, reasonably enough, funds to help with this.
However, having been claiming for the cost of the mortgage, once that was paid off the Wintertons transferred their home to a trust (a way of reducing the inheritance tax burden for their children) and were then able to carry on claiming money, because now it technically was for the rent they paid to the trust. The Daily Mail has more.
The Daily Mail also has the story of Conservative MP Bob Spink who employed his partner’s daughter, even though she was at sixth-form at the time, and also continued employing his ex-wife, even after she moved to the other end of the country, away from both Westminster and his constituency. (Note that Mr Spink’s defence over the former really only covers the subsequent period when the daughter was at university).
The Derek Conway latest is this from the News of the World: he “sacked his loyal secretary and gave his WIFE the job, the News of the World can reveal. And when shocked Susan Davenport questioned his decision, the swaggering politician flew into a rage, bellowing: ‘No one gets in my way! I will crush you! Crush you!’ … The only time Susan witnessed Conway show any sympathy for a constituent was when one wrote in complaining that he had two homosexuals living next door. Susan said: ‘Conway read out the letter and said, ‘I totally understand the feelings. I can’t stand them.’ I didn’t even offer him a reply. It’s now clear his son Henry is gay. What was he thinking about?'”
UPDATE: Missed the tale of Anthony Steen first time round. It seems that he is a generous employer when it comes to salaries:
Anthony Steen, a Tory backbencher, has disclosed that he pays his daughter Xanthe £5,000 a year for “half a day a week” assisting her father with press releases and articles.