Another batch of politicians, another expenses scandal. This morning’s Telegraph reveals that John Bercow is attempting under the cover of “security reasons” to cover-up the publication of another round explosive expenses documents that would expose a property merry-go-round between rent-swapping MPs.
Here Guido gives the “How-To” low-down on how sleazy MPs are swapping their rent to line their own pockets:
The first and most simple method of rent-swapping involves the MPs who make money renting out their own previously taxpayer-funded properties while claiming expenses to rent out homes nearby. According to The Telegraph Chris Bryant rents out his mansion flat in Bloomsbury while claiming £2,000 expenses for rent on another London property. We have repeatedly asked him for an explanation this morning without receiving any reply. The Speaker claims the truth cannot be released because it would pose a security risk. Laughable, Guido and anyone else who wants to know, already knows where he lives.
The second, far more serious, category of rent-swapping covers a handful of MPs suspected of renting out properties to each other, effectively an “I’ll pay yours if you pay mine” scheme. MPs are banned from renting homes to relatives but a loophole in the rules allows them to trouser huge sums of money by renting out properties to other current and former MPs. Bercow cites security reasons for not revealing the address or names of landlords, but there is absolutely no reason why he cannot release the names of the MPs involved in this form of rent-swapping. It is a cover up.
There is also potentially a third category: the so-called “phantom” rent swap. This involves the possibility of MPs telling the authorities they have moved when in reality they have not, and then swapping their rent on the quiet.
If these people were claiming housing benefit “Rent Swapping” like this would fall into the category of benefit fraud plain and simple, it is in the parlance of welfare fraud investigators a “contrived tenancy” punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.
Stay tuned. There is more to come…