To date the Daily Telegraph’s running expose on MPs expenses has focussed on claims related to MPs’ second homes. MPs of all parties have been shown to have claimed for items that most people struggle to afford on their normal salaries and there has been a growing sense of public outrage that the system has been seriously abused. In a way it doesn’t matter that most claims revealed so far have been within the scope of the existing rules, an impression has been created of a political class feathering their own nests.
Today the Daily Telegraph seems to be moving on from claims for second homes to look at MPs’ expenses for the running of their offices. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is again in the firing line today. According to the Telegraph she claimed on her office expenses to buy her husband a top of the range i-phone and then claimed both her and her husband’s phone bill on her allowances.
More surprisingly though is the news that the Chancellor of the Exchequer Alastair Darling and nine of his Cabinet colleagues claimed for advice on how to complete their tax returns. As the Telegraph points out, most individuals are not even allowed to offset the cost of using an accountant to fill in their tax-returns as a business expense.
Meanwhile Iain Dale reports that Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg is facing embarrassment over his party’s decision to accept £2.4m from someone who has since been convicted for fraud. The Lib Dems face the possibility that they may have to pay back all or part of the donation in the run up to a General Election.