What hope is there when the Chancellor, who is responsible for the integrity of the public finances, is lining his pocket at the public’s expense? In times gone by this would have been a resigning matter. The Right “Honourable” Alistair Darling will no doubt tell us he has done nothing wrong. Judge for yourself:
He has a choice of four homes; he is provided with two grace and favour homes at the public’s expense, he rents out his former private home (originally taxpayer funded) for his private profit and then he claims for his other home. He has at various times claimed that various houses were his main residence – in doing so he always maximised his claim for expenses. Today he pays no housing expenses whatsoever out of his own pocket – anywhere – while the taxpayer pays for three properties for him and he rents out a fourth to make an extra profit. The condemnation is universal:
Last night, a spokeswoman for Mr Darling refused to comment on his expense claims. However, it previously emerged that until 2005 he claimed that a flat he shared with other Labour MPs was his “main home”. This allowed him to claim about £70,000 in expenses on his Edinburgh home where his wife and children lived.
It was then reported that he switched his formal declaration and told the Parliamentary authorities that the Edinburgh home was his main residence. This allowed him to claim for a London property and it is thought he bought a flat in the capital.
However, after becoming Chancellor in July 2007, Downing Street automatically became his main residence. It is thought that he then began claiming expenses again on the Edinburgh property and rented out the London home. In the 2007-08 financial year, Mr Darling claimed £9,837 in second-home expenses.
Mr Cameron said: “Given the state is effectively providing the minister with a second home, I can see no justification for them continuing to claim a second-home allowance. If elected I will make sure no Conservative minister with a grace-and-favour residence in London would be allowed to make a claim for a second home – including me.
“We have to sort this out now. No one will listen to politicians about anything if the impression is that they are living high on the hog off the back of taxpayers.”
Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, said: ``It is clearly barmy for ministers to indulge in a form of double counting that enables them to enjoy two homes at the taxpayer’s expense.
“To say this is within the rules will only serve to convince the public that the rules are broken and need to be fixed as soon as possible.
Susie Squire of the Taxpayers’ Alliance added: “Alistair Darling has some serious questions to answer about his exploitation of the parliamentary allowances system. It’s very concerning that the man who is in charge of our money thinks it is appropriate to make a fast buck from the taxpayer. His behaviour is totally unacceptable.”
Go on, defend this Sir Michael White…
UPDATE : The London Evening Standard has discovered that Margaret Beckett is at it as well, she has three homes courtesy of the taxpayers. Her caravan is (Guido believes) her own…