Monday, April 06, 2009

Why Does Brown Claim a Second Home Allowance?

Stumbling & Mumbling, in a blogpost yesterday titled WHY AREN'T ALL MPs CROOKS?, said this...
Another Sunday brings another allegation about MPs' corruption. This invokes two extreme reactions, both of which, I think, are wrong. One is “they’ve all got their snouts in the trough.” This runs into a simple factual problem - that only a minority stand accused of this. As Paul says, for all the abuse levelled at him, no-one accuses Gordon Brown of being on the take.

Maybe not. But he may be as guilty as Geoff Hoon of using the Commons Expenses rules for his own benefit. Last year Gordon Brown claimed £16,000 for the second home allowance, to finance his home in Fife.

Up until 2006 the Browns had lived in a Westminster flat, owned by Brown in Great Peter Street (which he bought in 1992 from Robert Maxwell), which he claimed second home allowance for - their main home being in Brown's Fife constituency.

When they moved into Downing Street, I am told that Brown transferred ownership of the flat to his wife. I have been unable to find out whether they still own the flat, whether it has been rented out or whether it has been sold. If it has been sold, surely the Fife house counts as their main home, as it is the only one they own. If they still own and rent out the London flat, aren't they in the same position as Geoff Hoon?

Of course, by claiming for his Fife home, in theory Brown is, in theory, doing nothing different to Tony Blair, who claimed for his house in Sedgefield. But there is a key difference. The Blairs never really lived there full time - it was always clear that it was a second home. Brown's Fife house is his home. It's where his belongings are stored. It's his retreat of choice.

It's the system which is wrong. What kind of system just allows MPs to redesignate a property as a "main" home or "second" home almost on a whim, as Brown did in 2006?

Of course, he could follow David Cameron's lead and announce he will no longer claim a second home allowance as he has a 'grace & favour' residence.

36 comments:

Obnoxio The Clown said...

Hitchens then accused Vaizey and all modern day politicians as being careerists and only being in it for what they could get out of it. An easy populist line, but one which didn't seem to find much resonance with the audience.

Perhaps he should have accused the Labour Party of being careerists who were only in for what they could get out of it, eh, Iain?

davidc said...

"Why Does Brown Claim a Second Home Allowance?"

because it's within the rules of course !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Duyfken said...

"It's the system which is wrong." That's an excuse as poor as the plea of "I haven't broken the rules" put forward by those who already have been found out.

It is obvious the system needs to be changed in realisation that it must cater for knaves and not just honourable persons.

Plato said...

This morning I feel more taken advantage of than ever.

The fact that The PM and The Chancellor have manipulated the system is beyond the pale.

I honestly thought Darling would be above such flagrant re-designation of his main home in some bizarre game of musical homes - but no.

I agree re the Sedgefield bit - it was a token home and he never pretended otherwise.

Stupid me.

subrosa said...

I understood Brown lived in the flat above No 10 when he became chancellor and Blair and his family used No 11. This was widely broadcast in the media and the reason given was that the accommodation was far bigger in No 11.

Silly me, believing what I read.

Houdini said...

The system is not the problem; it is the people who milk it who are. Insisting it is the system does you no favours.

Oldrightie said...

Labour hypocrisy is the problem.

Dave H said...

Affordable Housing is one of the PM's favourite themes.

After all, people like Brown, Hoon and Smith could never have earned the money to buy the houses they live in. They depended on state subsidy.

DespairingLiberal said...

I have now declared the house I live in to be my "third home". Henceforth, I shall be claiming a rather lavish allowance for my "first home" (a mansion I pretended to purchase) and sub-letting my "second home" (a 5-bed desirable residence in Mayfair) to a number of MPs, all of whom are double-claiming that one as their "second homes" on personal tax returns.

I will keep you all posted on my "fourth home" which is coming soon. Suffice to say that with this splendid emolumentary disposition from the taxpayer, I shall soon be able to retire to my actual home (which I call my "real house"), the Palace of Versailles.

Signed
The Rt. Hon. Member for (insert your typical bent constituency MP here)

Roger Thornhill said...

Brown claims it because, like our Home Sec, he does not possess a magnetised moral compass.

He cannot tell the difference between doing only what he should and doing what he can. Like most Socialists.

DespairingLiberal said...

Yes of course Roger. No Tory MP would ever be bent. Harumpphh.

The Penguin said...

Brown is just as corrupt as the rest of his motley crew. Has he written a guide to troughing in parliament, to follow on from his student benefits cheating and freeloading booklet?

The Penguin

bed123 said...

What a sorry bunch we have as MP’s! Jacqui Smith, Peter Mandelson, Geoff Hoon, Tony McNulty, Alistair Darling, Yvette Cooper, Ed Balls, and even questions now about Gordon Brown himself about his second home. A Labour minister would even sell his own mother for a fiver! No, sorry, that’s stupid. He would lease her out and claim the money on expenses.

Anoneumouse said...

Since Labour came to power, Gordon Brown has had a 12 years of 'grace and favour' entitlement for his accommodation in London.

BrianSJ said...

The Penguin is right. Half bricks and empty beer cans, plus ca change. Ditto the Maxtonite destruction of the country.

DespairingLiberal said...

Is this a good time to remind everyone that it was Tory MP Derek Conway who set a new standard for probity by giving his sons an allowance on the taxpayer?

Sceptical Steve said...

DespairingLiberal at 10.37 makes an interesting point, and Derek Conway, like all the others, "claimed that he had done nothing wrong".

However, the big difference is that he has had the whip removed and will be out on his ear as soon as the next election comes round.

All the other hoons mentioned still retain the support of their parties and clearly intend to keep their snouts in the trough until Hell freeze over.

strapworld said...

Despairing Liberal.

Correct, save for one error, "Former" Tory MP, Conway.

Now, wouldn't it be courageous if David Cameron was to announce that all Conservative MP's who have abused the expenses system will be de-selected!

Or will he hide behind the weasel words "It is within the rules"?

Why did Ken Clarke, on the Andrew Marr suggest that 1/3rd of MP's were crooked? When he as an officer of the courts has done nothing about it? ever!

The tories record is as bad as the Labour party and I am fearful that when the full expenses are revealed the anger out in the real world will manifest itself on both Labour and Tory parties.

Little Black Sambo said...

"It's the system which is wrong." Well, up to a point.

Simon Dyda said...

Perhaps you weren't listening, Iain, but the whole matter of MPs expenses is trivial.

Weltkanzler Brown said so himself.

Unsworth said...

@ Deperairing Liberal

"Derek Conway who set a new standard for probity by giving his sons an allowance on the taxpayer"

Rubbish. You cannot in all seriousness claim that prior to Conway this was not happening. I don't think he 'set the standard' at all - there were/are many others, of all hues - and we shall shortly be seeing yet more.

Is there some sort of moral distinction in the method of ripping off taxpayers? Claiming false 'expenses' vs 'housing costs' vs 'staffing costs'? If so what might that be?

Gareth said...

"It's the system which is wrong. What kind of system just allows MPs to redesignate a property as a "main" home or "second" home almost on a whim, as Brown did in 2006?"

The system is only partly to blame. MPs without morals are also at fault and the relative secrecy has allowed the cockroaches in the system to flourish. This is a microcosm for the banking sector - trust MPs to do the honourable thing and many of them don't. Trust bankers to manage their risks properly and they don't. In both cases the regulator should have stepped in but was unable (through incompetence) or unwilling (through deference) to do so.

Short-term grasping and greed bordering on theft, writ large and small. Who will rid us of these meddlesome welfare parasite Members?

Stan said...

Who cares!!! With all due respect, in the current grand scheme of things politicians pocketing a few bob on expenses isn't a big deal - and are the Tories any better anyway?

What I want to know is why Brown and, indeed Cameron think that the only way out of this great big pile of cack they've got us into is more of the same?

golden_balls said...

If only we elected people who married or inherited money
we wouldn't have this mess

but then again if we did we'd have more clones of call me dave and the next Baronet of Ballentaylor Gideon Osborne.

hmmm not sure who i dislike more the average snout in the trough mp.

or the millionaires who still claim a salary.

I don't know whether call me dave or gideon claim a salary. But i'm sure other millionaire labour and conservatives do.

Bryan Dunleavy said...

It's not the system that is wrong; it's the people who abuse the system who are wrong.

Victor, NW Kent said...

Brown claims a second home allowance for the same reason that a dog licks its balls - because he can.

cherami said...

What is this nonsense about having to wait until Christmas for some toothless committee to report?

Why does the Inland Revenue not lay down what the rules should be as it does for everyone else?
This second home nonsense is a scam and nothing more. Once it has been declared illegal by the Revenue, MPs could have six months grace to sort out their affairs and if the IR is not satisfied, could face the Fraud Squad and prosecution.

martin day said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sobers said...

All this would be avoided if there were govt owned flats for each constituency that was deemed to require a home in London. Lose your seat, new MP gets the flat. Much reduced expense and no gain for MPs if house prices rise. Unfurnished, down to new MP to provide furniture etc at his own cost. Bills paid by expenses. Running costs probably less than £5K/year, plus the chance of the govt making money on the value rising over time. Security would be cheaper as all MPs would be in the same place.

martin day said...

The Daily telegraph advised that Brown's still own it but effectively cashed in on at the top of a property boom and took money out of the flat the public paid the interest on whilst Brown was a minister:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1556730/Flat-deal-will-mean-tax-savings-for-Brown.html

Mirtha Tidville said...

Bozo Brown knows the writing is on the wall and even as the Earl of Dunfermeline his earnings power will be well reduced..so like the pack he leads its Snouts in the Trough boys and girls.....personally I think its something in the socialists DNA but I could be wrong....

Conand said...

Brown's main home is the one with the Moral Compass buried in the garden.

cherami said...

Slightly off topic - Douglas Carswell's Great Repeal Act sounds good. Cameron would garner a lot of votes with it.

Abolish the Green Book, apply normal Inland Revenue Rules, then repeal all the anti-liberal rubbish this anti-liberal rubbish of a government has imposed.

Conand said...

@ cherami @5:49

+++Reactionary Alert+++

Personally I regard as invalid all legislation since they stopped hereditary peers sitting ,as of right. Under the terms of Magna Carta it means that the Westminster shop is no longer a proper Parliament. No repeals needed, just get the lighter fuel and matches. :-O

+++Reactionary Alert Over++

I don't always feel this way, it depends on many external factors. I guess this Magna Carta fetish is why the LibDems weren't really the party for me. :)

Preemptive @ Simon Gardner (my conscience):

'The Gardners said that I was a Reactionary Conand, they were right, Britain needs a Reactionary Conand.'

titus-aduxas said...

DespairingLiberal said...
Is this a good time to remind everyone that it was Tory MP Derek Conway who set a new standard for probity by giving his sons an allowance on the taxpayer?

Very good point. What happened to him? What has happened to the Labour pigs, who have their noses in the trough?. Rather than bleat about the Conways, why are you not calling for the same treatment to be meted out to the ZaNu Labour - and LibDem - troughers?

titus-aduxas said...

The thing is, that until 2004, when ZaNu Labour changed the rules, all London home HAD to be designated as second homes - there was no choice.