Monday, 22 March 2010

More disappointing news on MPs' conduct - and where I stand

I am very disappointed to read the BBC's news about twenty MPs (including Hendon's Andrew Dismore) having broken the rules "on declaring hospitality in questions or debates after visiting locations such as the Maldives, Cyprus and Gibraltar." The BBC says that Mr Dismore "broke rules more than 90 times, following annual visits to Cyprus, by failing to declare the hospitality when raising issues about the island in Parliament." I accept that the BBC also says that Mr Dismore "denies any wrongdoing and claims his questions about Cyprus were not sufficiently relevant to his trips to require a declaration". That notwithstanding, this latest news will add to local people's grave disappointment following the expenses revelations.

To be clear: I have always lived locally in our borough, and if elected as MP for Hendon, I will live in the constituency without any need for a second home, as I will commute to and from Parliament by public transport, just as I already commute every working day. I would only ever claim expenses for things that are directly work-related and can be considered normal, legitimate business expenses of the sort that people would claim for in any workplace. I understand that no party has been perfect on this score - indeed, the BBC's latest report on foreign visits names Tory and Lib Dem MPs, not just Labour. But let me make one thing very clear: in contrast to Labour and the Tories, not a single Liberal Democrat MP flipped their home, not a single Lib Dem MP avoided capital gains tax and not a single Lib Dem MP in London claimed a second home allowance.


  1. Oh c'mon, you don't actually believe that about the Lib-Dems being so squeaky clean? There are far fewer Lib-Dems, and that is probably the reason for their better record.

  2. Thanks, Alan, as I wrote above: "no party has been perfect on this score." The Liberal Democrats have 63 MPs - around 10% of the House of Commons. So you'd expect 10% of the MPs who flipped their second homes, and who avoided capital gains tax, to be Lib Dems. But not one Lib Dem MP did either of those two things. There are eight London Lib Dem MPs, and not one of them claimed on expenses for a second home - not one. It is those three things - flipping, avoiding capital gains tax and claiming for a second home as a London MP - that have most outraged the public. It is therefore noteworthy that not Lib Dem MP did ANY of those three things. This reflects the fact that Parliamentary reform and a better expenses system have been at the heart of our liberal philosophy for many, many years, long before the media became interested in this issue and the Tories and Labour jumped half-heartedly on the bandwagon. Chris Huhne put it very well in this speech to my party's spring conference: