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Expenses of the Golden couple

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Author Topic: Expenses of the Golden couple  (Read 273 times)
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« on: May 04, 2008, 10:55:02 am »

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« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2008, 11:55:33 am »

Says it all really.
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« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2008, 07:52:43 am »

This was highlighted in yesterday's issue of the Guardian.

Cabinet couple under investigation over expenses
Jenny Percival
Wednesday June 25 2008

Parliamentary authorities have halted part of a major overhaul of MPs' expenses because of an investigation by parliament's sleaze watchdog into cabinet ministers Ed Balls and Yvetter Cooper, it emerged today.

Balls, the children's secretary and a close ally of Gordon Brown, and Cooper, the chief secretary to the Treasury, face a complaint that they may have broken the spirit or letter of the rules on Commons' housing allowances.

Conservative MP Malcolm Moss complained to the parliamentary standards commissioner, John Lyon, in February that they had been able to "maximise" their taxpayer-funded second homes allowances by claiming their London home was their main home.

Five months on, Lyon's office confirmed today that he was continuing to investigate the couple.

It also emerged today during a press conference on MPs' expenses that the parliamentary authorities feel unable to make recommendations on claims made by MPs who live together while the investigation continues.

The couple, both of whom have been described as future Labour leaders, represent neighbouring constituencies in west Yorkshire and have homes in Castleford and north London.

The Commons rule book on expenses, known as the Green Book, says that: "If you have more than one home, your main home will normally be the one where you spend more nights than any other."

Most ministers generally claim their London home as their main home because they spend less time in their constituency than backbench MPs.

Balls and Cooper are unusual among ministers in claiming their constituency home in Yorkshire as their main home. By doing so, they are accused of "maximising" their parliamentary allowances by claiming for their more expensive property in Stoke Newington, north London, said to be worth 655,000.

Although their three children go to school in London, the couple insist that they genuinely feel that their Yorkshire home is their main family home and that they have acted within the rules at all times.

A spokesman for the couple said today: "Malcolm Moss MP has made a complaint to the parliamentary commissioner for standards which is currently being considered. Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper have done everything in accordance with advice from the Fees Office, which has confirmed they have acted within the rules."

The members' estimates committee, a committee of senior MPs chaired by Speaker Michael Martin, said in a report out today that it expects a revised Green Book will contain "clearer rules about the maximum amounts which can be claimed when two members live together in the same second home".

A member of the committee, Liberal Demcorat MP Nick Harvey, said that it had delayed making a formal recommendation but insisted that the current rules on main homes were clear. "It must be based on where they spend their time," said Harvey.

Copyright Guardian Newspapers Limited 2008
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