Reply to the Telegraph

Sir,

Your story concerning my expense claims is wrong. I did not move the designation of my main home to sell a property in London.

In 2004-5 I was living in London in a house, paying a mortgage. I spent more time there. I rightly claimed on the constituency home as the second home, and the taxpayer’s interest was served by doing so as it was cheaper.

When I sold the London property I paid capital gains tax on it to protect the taxpayers interest.

Since 2005 I have lived mainly in the constituency, and have made that my main home. I have extended and improved that property at my own expense. I have claimed first for a rented flat, and more recently for a bedsit which I purchased in Pimlico. I purchased as this will prove cheaper.

When surrendering the flat I received a repayment of the deposit minus the last rent and services payment which I returned to the Fees office. I explained to them what I was doing. I cannot see what the issue is here.

Yours faithfully
John Redwood

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66 Comments

  1. peter green
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    You live within an hour of london. How dare you charge thr tax payer for a 2nd home. You should have commuted like many of your constituents. As for protecting the taxpayer by paying capital gains tax! Truly protecting us would have been to pay the profit on sale. I hope you are voting against speaker Martin – if not we must wonder why.

    • jean baker
      Posted May 18, 2009 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      Speak for yourself ! Why is the (reported) Labour Minister who ‘rubber stamped’ the “leaked” expenses of such little or no concern ?

      Did he, or did he not, have the right to sanction the costs to taxpayers ? If they were in order, why the furore; if they were disallowable, will the Speaker make him publicly accountable for his actions ?

      Odd that those truly accountable are not held accountable by Nulabor.
      They don’t govern – they spin ……

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted May 18, 2009 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

      You are free to disagree with me, but I regard Mr Redwood as one of the genuinely honourable members of the house. I say this with no hint of irony, I believe him to be honest and sincere.

    • RJ
      Posted May 18, 2009 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

      If he stays at debates til 1am (see very recent item on this website on such a debate), I think a London home seems more than reasonable. Most constituents do not have to commute back at 2 or 3 am.

    • Lyddy
      Posted May 18, 2009 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

      All this talk about easy commuting – please remember that MPs are usually voting until 10.30 on Mondays and Tuesdays, and many will have meetings in Westminster the next morning. We have commuters to London in our village, but although they work long hours, not until those times.

  2. John Ledbury
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    followed your blog for a long time as I thought you were the best hope for the tory party. V disappointed.
    When the local council vandalised my garden it was all too trivial for the local tories I had voted for to bother with, now we find even the ones with something between the ears can’t be trusted.

  3. Mike Stallard
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    In this parliament, encouraged by a lot of people who ought to know better, the scandal of MPs not cutting back, but actually ripping us off mightily is causing a lot of damage. We are now in the realms of the abdication crisis, or the 1911 crisis, or the Corn Laws and 1832.
    Why? We, the voters, all realise that we have to cut back and, in my own case, watch our family savings disappear.
    We expect the same sort of attitude from our MPs.
    Cynically, we, the electorate, either swing from naive enthusiasm for a charlatan (lots of those in parliament recently), to casual mudslinging at everyone in parliament. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves, actually.
    Mr Cameron is not a charlatan. But his coming vast majority is, I think, as dangerous as that entrusted to Tony Blair.
    Meanwhile, be like the rest of us – take it on the chin!

  4. Campbell McNeill
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Glad you’ve rebuked the telegraph.

    If all politicians operated with the common sense and integrity that you do, this country would be a lot better place.

  5. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    JR: “I purchased as this will prove cheaper.”

    I am not sure that this is a convincing argument as you appear to have claimed almost the maximum for a second home in the last three years and significantly more than in 2004/2005, according to the Telegraph figures.

    Reply: This year the claim will be much lower owing to low interest rates, and continuing capital repayments made out of my taxed income.

  6. Hamish Hossick
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    It would appear the Telegraph is now merely interested in damning all MPs who have ever submitted a claim for expenses by association with those who could be described as exploiting the system.
    I have already written to the Telegraph to register my disgust at the manner in which they are presenting every claim in the most convoluted way and the article on your expenses is a fine example. It takes a long, long time for them to confirm you repaid the sum they claim you submitted twice, presumably in an effort to appeal to the tabloid readers they seem to be catering for these days.
    I will happily take anyone to task who claims “they’re all at it”, as I am certain they would expect the presumption of innocence to apply to them. That being said, I would like to hear more about Tony Blair and the remortgaging of his constituency home, at taxpayer’s expense, to raise the deposit for another London home whilst residing in Downing Street. If the reports are true, the evidence of this claim has been “accidentally” shredded. Is that the first time some information concerning Mr Blair has been erased? I have a vague recollection it has happened before…

  7. pipesmoker
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    JR I am fed up to the teeth with hearing about it. The Telegraph has wound the public up and their anger is now directed at MP’s expenses when it should be directed at the EU and loss of sovereignty of parliament and in that the Telegraph has done the country a disservice.

    It’s a distraction that Jo Moore would have been proud of and in the meantime the EU elections come and go, the not the constitution is still there and all the rest of it and nothing has changed!

    I have been waiting for a vote on the EU since Harold Wilson’s con in 1975, please keep your eye on the real monkey.

  8. Mark
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    The Telegraph is putting a slant on some of the expenses claims of MPs. This is good for their sales, but bad for those MPs who have not exploited or abused the system. Of whom, it appears, you are one.

  9. Lola
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    The Telegraph thing has probably run its course now, unless they can find out why Mr & Mrs Blair shredded all their receipts.

    • savonarola
      Posted May 18, 2009 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      I am surprised that this subject has not been given publicity. McCartney saw the writing on the wall. He knew that it was a matter of time before the receipts would find their way into the public domain. So did Blair.

      Blair arranged for his receipts to be destroyed. A helpful junior possibly did the deed.

      It would take very little time to establish a) who shredded the receipts and b) who gave the instruction. Statements taken under oath would flush out the truth.

      In my view he and Cherie’s list would qualify for a DT supplement.

  10. michael mcgrath
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    From the details which you provided, it is obvious to me that you have behaved entirely honourably in these matters. I believe that the same can be said for the majority of Members and that the ghastly disclosures of recent days are limited in number of people. While there are some Members who may have committed, intentionally or not, minor peccadilloes, to brand all MPs as rogues is madness. Perhaps prosecution of the serious miscreants..interest payments on non existing mortgages springs to mind… would enable us all to draw this awful business to a close and get back to work

  11. Waramess
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    There is an excellent train service from Reading to London. I know because I commuted from there for many years.

    I, along with many others find it hard to understand why MP’s with short commuting journeys, should need to avail themselves of the second home allowance.

    None of the “fingered” MP’s (from bathplugs to moat cleaners) can see what they have done wrong and I’m afraid that is almost all of the problem.

    Your own circumstances may or may not be defendable however this is not something the electorate have much time for and whether you sip or quaff from the chalice it is still poisened.

  12. JohnOfEnfield
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    John – a typo distracts from the impact

    “cannot se what”

  13. backofanenvelope
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Fix for lodging allowance.

    1. Constituency must be more than 60 minutes travel time by public transport from Westminster.
    2. Lodging allowance fixed at cost of furnished one-bedroom flat 30 minutes traveling time from Westminster.
    3. Accommodation not to be rented from self or anyone with whom you have a financial or any other sort of relationship.
    4. No other expenses allowed as far as accommodation is concerned; ie – no bath plugs or TVs etc.

    While you are at it – no claims for food, but you can have free travel.

    • Waramess
      Posted May 18, 2009 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      Why allow lodging for any MP’s who live within a 60 minute commute? I, like many others used to commute and sometimes this meant the early train in the morning and the late train or even a taxi last thing at night.

      As for free travel, nobody ever paid for my commuting; let them pay for their own

    • Mark M
      Posted May 19, 2009 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      Provided you change the rules to only allow rent/mortgage interest/council tax then point 1 becomes irrelavent. One problem currently is inner London MPs claiming for a second home and benefitting financially from that by using taxpayer money to add value and then selling up.

      If I lived in inner London and wanted a second home near to Westminster, and I could only claim for rent/council tax, then it would make no sense as it would cost me more to run two homes when I could easily get in from my main home.

  14. Lee
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Am slightly confused.

    Are you saying that you paid capital gains tax when selling your London residence even though you didn’t have to because it was your principal private residence?

    I understand that capital gains on property can be a bit more complex when you have more than one property though – maybe it just needs a better explanation.

    reply: Yes I paid CGT

  15. Paul
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    John,

    I warned that responses needed to be made and very quickly. The problem is now that the Telegraph will publish bits about any MP with a “name” plus the really bad stuff in detail about any MP. The fees office are now implicated too. I have no idea how clean or otherwise your expense claims are, quite frankly the public don’t care. The decision is already made. All politicians are lying, cheating swindlers. End of story.

    There has been no leadership shown on this from Brown and the Labour government, they are toast and they know it, they are just hanging on for one last trough.
    Whilst Cameron and Clegg have done slightly better in coming forward we can all see they are still playing party politics and worried about polls and voters intentions and blah blah blah.

    Enough

    Our economy is in the toilet, unemployment ( real figures not politicians ones) is 3 million and escalating, we are taxed at the highest rate ever when all added together, we are spied on, snooped over and harrassed by public servants.

    Cameron and Clegg need to issue a joint statement calling on Brown to resign immeadiately, they should then form an interim government of national unity. The aims should be that the new government will hold a new election no later than June next year.
    In the interim a full investigation under the control of Elizabeth Filkin should be instigated, Kelly must quickly produce a new expenses scheme. Referendum must be held on the Lisbon Treaty. I believe that this wil also serve to kick start the economy with a new start and injection of some confidence.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted May 18, 2009 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      If only this were possible!
      The longer Mr Brown stays in office, the less Labour Party there will be in 2010 when he has to call an election.
      The country needs a strong, sensible opposition to put the other point of view.
      At the moment, there simply is no credible opposition because we, the voters, wanted it that way. Power tends to corrupt.
      We must not make the same mistake twice.

      • alan jutson
        Posted May 19, 2009 at 7:20 am | Permalink

        Your point of view has some merit Stuart.
        but you miss one huge point.
        I do not know how others vote so cannot temper my vote accordingly to get the result you suggest. (no major majority)

        The only true way is to modify the first past the post system.

        It has always been said by MP’s that a Government of more than one Party, would be a weak Government.

        I am now not so sure.

        Perhaps a broader based Government would mean less major swings election to election than we have had in the past.

  16. David Shield
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood

    Having read the DT article they should apologise to you for its inaccuracy.

    I have read this blog with interest throughout the financial crisis and it has helped my financial education, as well as your commons speeches. Please keep up the good work particularly holding the government to account. I look forward to your return to office (hopefully!!) the country needs your expertise to get us out of this nulabour mess!

    David Shield

  17. AndyC
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Morning. You will have had to wade through enough rude comments about this already, so as a political sympathiser I’ll try to offer something constructive. Why don’t the entire stock of Conservative MPs (and Lib Dems too, why not) do a David Davis and resign to force by-elections, on a ticket of reforming the system? You might even shame a few Labour members to follow suit.

    I admit the idea might seem daft, but something radical needs to be done in order to restore public confidence in the way we are governed; it would make the point that you are serious about reform. The worst offenders would lose their seats, but well, they are going to anyway… it’s just a matter of dates.

    A full general election remains a better option, but is far too far away while the decision rests with the current incumbent of Number 10. Only once public confidence is restored can parliament get on with addressing the real long term issues facing this country.

  18. no one
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    I have not read what the Telegraph wrote in your case, however
    Plenty of people live in your constituency and commute into London every day
    I’ve done it myself over the years, and the periods when I was working long hours in London I would just stay in a hotel in London – often for long periods
    If my employers had paid towards a mortgage for me you can be sure the tax man would have landed like a ton of bricks
    This is more in line with ordinary folks experiences
    So while I sympathise with your position, it would be good if you showed a little more understanding of how it looks from the position of someone in a normal job working their socks off
    You would be better off pushing for a system more in tune with normal employment and tax practises in regular jobs
    You would probably be better with more salary, and less expenses, and fewer MP’s
    And of course it all makes MP’s look out of touch, which to be fair THEY ARE, too few from high tech industry, too many from the public services, too few who have actually designed or led real projects out in the real world, etc etc etc
    Don’t think current system can survive, 2 parties essentially choosing the candidates for the people to veto is not full democracy, we really need more independents, we need ability for electorate to have a say in party short listing and selection procedures for their candidates
    If parliament is happy that I loose my job/roof over my head simply because I get caught doing 31 mph a few times in a 30 limit, as does really happen at the moment, then frankly you lot deserve everything you get, you have failed to protect the people from the worst excesses of the state, and we are staggered when MP’s get away with far worse without loosing their job…
    While I note you have done a lot better than many, I don’t see the cosy old status quo returning, and even if/when Dave and his mates win at the next election as seems inevitable, they will quickly suffer dissatisfaction if they run the country like the public school old boys network we all know they will default to
    Really people like me should be MP’s, the reality is we aren’t, and that’s sad for the whole country
    etc etc etc

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted May 19, 2009 at 6:33 am | Permalink

      You are right to contrast the insane over-prosecution of motorists, almost regardless of circumstance, with the latitude some MP’s seem to expect.

      Some motorists seem to regard it as a game to avoid speeding citations and I know of several who, for example could not remember who was driving when a camera flashed them, or sought to challenge the validity of the radar calibration. There are still others who use this anti-flash paint which apparently renders your number plate blurred to the cameras, as well as those who falsely claim others were driving so the points can be “shared out”

      Of course I do not advocate any of these methods but your contrast is a good one.

  19. no one
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    and we can do without MP’s jumping the NHS waiting lists, as Blair did with his heart op, as the Beast of Bolsover did with his heart op, as prescott did with his feet

    it really is 1984 and some pigs are very much more equal than others

    doesnt take much for the press to stoke up discontent when this sort of stuff is widespread and blatant

    your defence should also push for change and more fairness etc

    • DBC Reed
      Posted May 18, 2009 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      Pigs in “Animal Farm” surely?

  20. Ian Kerr
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Sir,surely the issue is that you can afford to pay these expenses out of your own pocket and not from the tax payers pocket.

    • Dave
      Posted May 18, 2009 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

      Why should Mr Redwood do so? Should GP’s suddenly have their earnings stopped because they can afford it?

      We seem to want the finest to be MPs, but we seem to resent paying them.

      Why does a GP earn more than an MP? Why does a head teacher earn more than an MP? Why does anyone but low to mid management earn less than an MP?

      We will be going back 100 years if we prevent people becoming MPs because they can’t afford it.

      The issue is if Mr Redwood claimed expenses which were reasonable and in line with the spirit of the rules, not just the way the rules were being enforced or the fine print.

      If it was both within the spirit of the rules and it was a reasonably efficient way for it to be done then I’m happy.

      However I do believe that we need independant scrutiny of MPs past expenses in order to regain trust in (what I hope is) the majority of MPs who have been fair.

      If I was forced to guess (an educated guess) then I would say Mr Redwood has done things “ok”. But we are not really in any position to judge things.

      Most MPs have dedicated a great part of their lives to public service, and no matter how guilty some may look we must not be so callous to believe that they have their snouts in the trough.

      The big question for me though regarding the Telegraph is this.
      They’ve covered roughly 100 MPs. They say they can’t say how many more they will cover (I don’t believe them). But do 100 out of 600 have questions to answer, or have they only looked at 120 MPs and 100 have questions to answer? The Democratic process of this country would be best served if all the information was immediately made available to the public (maintaining privacy where appropriate). If that is done then in a matter of days this will have been digested, and within a matter of weeks we’ll know which MPs are “in the clear” which are “on the ropes” and which have questions to answer.

      I’d hope to have a general election only once this had been done. If we were to have one too early then we’d simply get mudslinging and dirty tricks done against every currently standing MP and we’d be unfairly ruining the work a great number of selfless people have put in over the years.

    • Blank Xavier
      Posted May 19, 2009 at 7:29 am | Permalink

      I’m not sure. Basic income is about 68,000, right?

      If that basic income is really “basic income, but you WILL have two mortgages to pay” then you’re knocking, what, maybe 15k, 20k off the gross? 50k isn’t much for an MP – we want highly skilled, hard working people in these jobs. I get 50k plus and I’m just a programmer.

      Reply £64,000 – but many MPs have additional salaries as Ministers, Committee Chairmen or from outside interests.

  21. TrevorsDen
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    It seems that unlike Ed Balls you are not a drinking buddy of the Editor of the Daily Telegraph.

    It would also seem that its perhaps a good thing that some MPs at least are more competent than telegraph reporters.

    • C Jones
      Posted May 18, 2009 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

      Hmm, I wondered why the Balls/Coopers were given an easy ride. I fully expected to see them on the front page. This whole thing goes way beyond expenses (though some MPs need a visit from Plod). This is just the straw that broke the collective back. Roll on the next election so we can start to rebiuld our country, with your help Mr Redwood.

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted May 19, 2009 at 6:35 am | Permalink

      Happily Guido is apparently not a drinking buddy of Ed Balls

      http://www.order-order.com/2009/05/ed-yvette-triple-flipped/

  22. michael mcgrath
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear. I read the Telegraph article over lunch….perhaps we could delete my earlier e-mail

  23. Cliff.
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    John.

    I personally am getting a bit fed up with the Telegraph’s drip drip drip story; I can understand however, why they did it this way…Maximum profits.

    The problem is this; Once the mud has been slung, some of it sticks.
    They seem to have just made umteen allegations based on claims submitted, whether the claims were paid or not, they publish them anyway.
    I feel politicians are now starting to get the same feeling people on incapacity benefit get when they are all tarred with the same brush by the press and the main party leaders get involved in a bidding war as to who can be the toughest on some of the most vulnerable in society. The similarities are these; The welfare system is there, paid for by the people but God help you if you need to claim on it, you will be branded lazy, idle, workshy, swinging the lead etc etc etc irrespective of your previous work record. Similary, the expenses system is there but again, God help you if you use it, you’ll be branded as a thief, a trougher, greedy, self centered etc etc etc.

    My own concerns relate to those that paid out the claims, surely they should know what is and is not acceptable. Many of the accuses MPs have stated that they have taken advice from the fees office so perhaps it is the fees office that are at fault. There is little point in having a legitimate expenses system if you are then held up for public humiliation if you use it.
    It is only human nature to try to make as much as possible, I suspect, the current systems falls down because it relies on the honesty and integrity of those using it. Sadly, there seems today to be very few “honourable” members in the HofC. A few exceptions exist and I count you John in that number.

    I think it is time for the Telegraph to stop the witch hunt and allow Parliament to sort itself out. I do not feel the police should get involved at this stage. If there is evidence of deliberate fraud then perhaps they should be called in. I feel the Police are too keen to poke their noses into things that were traditionally outside of their juristiction. On saturday at a premiership football match, the police felt the need to step in when a manager shouted at the ref, the ref did not even caution the manager. We are in danger of becoming a police state, mind you, it may be our own fault as we seem so keen these days to run to the law and take legal action over the slightest thing.

  24. Chris Rose
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    I am concerned that many MPs who have behaved honourably are being assumed to have behaved dishonourably; and that even many of those who have behaved badly are not getting a fair hearing.

    The Telegraph has done all an excellent service by exposing the expenses issue to the full glare of publicity, but for how much longer is to be allowed to act as a self-appointed kangaroo court?

    It is essential the House of Commons selects a new Speaker swiftly and that that Speaker puts all the information currently in the Telegraph’s hands into the public domain.

  25. Ed
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    I’m already past fed up with the Telegraph’s ignorant claims against MPs en masse. It’s the old canard that the “system” needs changing. In reality, the rules of the system need enforcing, and a minority of MPs should feel the force of that. Claiming costs in pursuit of the business of Parliament to represent constituencies is fundamentally reasonable. Profiteering using the system is what is wrong, and a handful are guilty of it. They’ll escape though as the herd breaks for the “new system” solution. Depressing for everyone, I think, except the hacks.

  26. Tim James
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood,

    If you had been fiddling your expenses then the whole country is doomed.

    I am delighted to see that you have paid capital gains tax unlike other “honourable” members.

    The whole cuntry looks to you for your wisdom and probity.

    yours faithfully

    Tim James

  27. David Eyles
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    In the huge number of expenses claims which the DT have records of and have analysed, there will undoubtedly be a few which appear to fall into the pattern of appearing to be “Not Legitimate”, whilst in fact being both legitimate according to the rules and perfectly reasonable according to the spirit of the rules.

    I suspect that this is one such item.

  28. Robin
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Good news is it looks like you’ve not stepped outside the rules.

    The bad news is that I think it’s very, very unhealthy for democracy to find MPs have special tax exemptions.

    This gravy train has got to stop.

  29. Sue
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    I am also concerned that all MP’s have been tarred with the same brush. I have read your blog for some time now and would like you to know, I trust your integrity!

  30. Hamish Hossick
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    I am one of an increasing number of people who are fed-up hearing about supposedly scandalous expenses claims. I fully accept some dubious practice appears to have been indulged, but the Telegraph is now seeking to prolong the “scandal” by, dare I say, “sexing-up” some more mundane matters.

    The effect of the Telegraph’s reporting is to suggest those who have stayed within the principles of the Green Book are in a tiny minority, if, in fact, any exist at all. This has led to further discussion of who should and should not be able to claim for a second home and, whilst it might be argued how far is “reasonable” to expect MPs to commute, arbitrary judgement is worthless. Consensus is required and, if the regular business of the Commons means MPs may find commuting more straightforward than they once did, then this might be addressed. What it is not, is a valid excuse to berate everyone who does not commute, purely because you feel like having a go at anyone you can.

  31. Mike
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood

    I think that your own behaviour, in paying CGT etc, shows that you have tried to act within the spirit of the rules as well as sticking to them. For that you should be admired and respected.

    The sad fact is, though, that most MPs will be viewed with disgust as a result of the revelations recently.

    The shame of it all is, that there are plenty of honourable people trying to serve the country in Westminster who will be tarred with the same brush as the most greedy expense-fiddlers. It is one thing to claim some return of expenses for necessary business, but it’s clearly true that many are using the allowance as a free gift.

    In my own working life, I was (I think) moderately scrupulous. I claimed only those expenses I needed to for my work.

    Which is why I am furious to hear about the things I am buying for other that I cannot afford for myself.

    Years ago I bought a trouser-press because I was a salesman and thought it would help me in my work. I couldn’t claim it or offset the tax. Why the hell should politicians think they should? When I travel and have to work away from home, I haven’t been able to claim the food for some time. When my garden gets in a mess, I cannot claim the cost of a gardner, nor the cost of a cleaner for the house – let alone on a second house!

    We suffer from a political class which appears to believe that they should be able to enrich themselves at our expense.

    However this isn’t new, is it? I knew perfectly well when I heard that Tony Banks had left an estate worth over a million, that it was obvious politics was a good money-spinner. It is bizarre to me that this has taken such a long time to come out.

    When the historians look back at this appalling period, they will conclude surely that the governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have been the most corrupt in many long years.

    Keep up the good work!

    Mike

  32. Graham Doll
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    I have read the Telegraph article and your reply. As a long-standing admirer, I wish to register my profound disappointment, though it saddens me to do so.

  33. backofanenvelope
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Lets not start blaming the Telegraph and the Fees Office. The fact that Parliament, the Speaker and various bits of the government have spent 4 years trying to prevent anyone getting a look at the books tells you all you need to know.

    “They” knew they were in the wrong.

  34. Mark M
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    John,

    Reading the Telegraph article it is hard to see what they are accusing you of. It appears from the story that you have only claimed for rent and mortgage interest since moving your second home designation to London.

    Is this the case?

    Reply: And Council tax/service charge.

    • Mark M
      Posted May 19, 2009 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      Thanks for the reply. In my view that all seems reasonable enough.

  35. backofanenvelope
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Waramess Reply:
    May 18th, 2009 at 2:15 pm
    Why allow lodging for any MP’s who live within a 60 minute commute?

    Point one was meant to say that only those more than 60 minutes travel time would get the lodging allowance.

  36. Matthew Reynolds
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    I admire John Redwood & believe in him unreservedly – The Daily Telegraph is just providing politician sleaze porn to satisfy the desire to be disgusted on the part of some of the British public.

    This is getting out of hand and the Speaker ought to resign and any MP who knows that what they did was wrong should resign.

    Then once the outrageously greedy MP’s have gone expense allowances must be axed , MP’s salaries increased and the power of the House of Commons increased by virtue of the proportion of our laws made in Brussels being slashed from 80%. That would be good for democracy and MP’s would merit a higher salary as with more laws being made in Westminster they would be doing more work thus meaning value for money. An end to expense allowances would simplify things & reduce the risk of fraud. MP’s should have more power to hold ministers to account and Prime Ministerial appointments to major posts ( senior civil servants , heads of major public corporations , Bishops etc, MPC members etc) should be approved by MP’s.

    We need to sort out things to empower & cleanse parliament for the sake of democracy. John I believe in you as you are a good egg but if even a fine fellow like you can get into a pickle then these potty expense rules need to go.

  37. Brian E.
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    I think MPs should be employed broadly on the same terms as civil servants.
    When I applied to join the Civil Service, as an Engineer, it was made clear that my housing costs on the initial posting would be my responsibility, as would the cost of getting to work each day whilst at my normal place of work. It was my choice as to whether or not I moved home to be close to work, and the same principle should apply as to whether an MP needs to move to live in his constituency.
    When I had to go to a site away from home, my travel expenses were paid along with hotel costs (up to a specified amount) and a small meals allowance. If an engineer was on site for a long period, his expenses were reduced to about half this amount, as he was expected to find “digs” rather than a hotel. If he was away for more than a month, he was allowed a return rail ticket home each month, but was expected to travel in his own time. As sleepers weren’t allowed, this made it virtually impossible for an engineer working at somewhere like Prestwick to return to his family at Gatwick over a weekend, and forced him to take part of his annual leave.

    Suggestions that a person’s main home are where he spends most time are somewhat illogical. A colleague of mine spent many years abroad as an advisor in third world countries – it didn’t move his main home from being in Reading.

    On this basis, we need to decide where an MP is employed, at Parliament or at his constituency (and this should be the same for all MPs). It would be his responsibility to move or to travel at his own expense. Travel to the other location would be paid along with hotel bills for short stays (less his normal travelling costs). Otherwise he would be expected to find “digs”, for which he would be paid a fixed allowance.

    After all, What’s good for the goose is good for the gander!

  38. TrevorsDen
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    MPs are entitled to expenses. I live south of Oxford – about an hour from London. In a normal job I would commute. But as an MP with a constituency here and an active all hours business life in London I would take advantage of a second home allowance and do not feel I could sanely do the job properly without one. I would also very much like my wife as secretary.

    I cannot for the life of me see why that should be a problem.

    I can also see family circumstances where an MP might want to change this. What is wrong are circumstances like Smiths. What is wrong is circumstances like Brown switching his allowance to his long standing regular real home.

    And we see mostly Labour MPs behaving like property speculators.

    This is the real sin. Various spurious clams can be condemned but many are built into the rules and not actually wrong. The Telegraphs mass hysteria – much of it self serving is on the verge of doing us a disservice.

    • alan jutson
      Posted May 19, 2009 at 7:26 am | Permalink

      Its very wrong when they claim back Stamp duty which is a Tax
      and
      Flip second homes to avoid Capital Gains Tax

      Under the present rules if you buy a dump it seems you can do it up at the Taxpayers expense to maximise profit without any tax liability.

      The only way is provide accomodation for them, which they can use while they are an MP then when they leave it goes to someone else.

      There should be no room for TAX EVASION.

      • TrevorsDen
        Posted May 20, 2009 at 9:38 am | Permalink

        Correct and thats not what I said. Nick Brown claiming £18,000 for food (without receipts) is a scandal.

        But the number of what i would regard as fraudulent claims – like claiming for a non existent mortgage – is relatively small.

        There are circumstances where an MP can legitimately switch home designation, and whether within the rules or not I think an MP should pay capital gains. The rules which MPs claim to use in this respect can be correctly termed tax avoidance not tax evasion.

        • alan jutson
          Posted May 20, 2009 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

          I do not have a problem with people using their brains to mitigate their tax liability as long as its within the rules.

          What I have a problem with is that many Politicians are not using the second home reason, in the way that the general public would be allowed by the Tax Inspectors.

          To the best of my knowledge if you appear on the electoral roll (according to the inland Revenue) this is used and regarded as your primary Residence. Any other properties you own are thefore secondary, and on whiich you would pay capital gains tax.

          As I understand it. You can elect any property as your Primary residence , but you cannot keep changing back to the same one again, time and time again. The Tax man will not allow it.

        • TrevorsDen
          Posted May 21, 2009 at 11:50 am | Permalink

          Mr Jutson – it does not look like I can reply to a reply, but if your still with me I agree with you.

          Which makes one wonder how the IR can say Hoon Purnell and Blear are within the rules ??

          Hoon and Purnell should pay the money back or be sacked. As usual Brown wants it both ways.

  39. Chrysippus
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    John, whilst I have a great respect for you as a politician, looking at the Paddington-Reading timetable, with most trains taking just over half an hour and services operating almost 24/7, your journey looks easily commutable.

    FWIW I retired last year as the Head of Department in a state secondary school. Up at 05.30 daily before a 50+ mile drive. Rarely home before 19.00. The only expenses involved were out of my own pocket providing pens/pencils etc. for my students on a daily basis.

    I view with great sadness the fact that so many of our elected representatives seem so out of touch with what is ‘normal’ for many of their constituents.

  40. andy dan
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    At last!, people on this blog are getting sick and tired of the expenses scandal. I was sick of it about 10 days ago. It’s like opening the paper and reading the same story over and over again. Bit like watching “Little Britain” where the same joke is repeated ad nauseum.
    As David Shield said, this blog has been a good source of information and education on the financial crisis. This is from both yourself and the many intelligent contributors. I think it’s time to get back to what’s happening in the economy. As a suggestion, I was interested by Tracy Corrigan’s article in Friday’s Telegraph about the amount of money the banks are making on Gilt sale transactions. This amounts to more public financing of the banks. Could we have an update on QE please?

  41. wrinkled weasel
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    I am not really convinced by the Telegraph case against you. I love the way they describe your London home as “a luxury flat”. Can you get a “luxury flat” within walking distance of your place of work, for £1800 a month? Was under three hundred grand excessive in 2006 to buy somewhere to live? I think not. How many bedrooms did this palace comprise? Also funny is the pic of you beside your Jag. Had you been Labour of course, it would have been a solar powered bicycle and you would have been eating a chip butty.

    I think they are trying a half-assed attempt at balance and find it difficult to come up with much on some Tories. Most of the high-profile troughers have been Labour, which is worse, because they like to project a “pies and pints” image that is totally false. There is something quite tasteless about a professional socialist on the make. I just don’t take you for a snout in the trough.

    • TrevorsDen
      Posted May 20, 2009 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      Correct. Mr Weasel

      And Chrysippus … I do not agree. I think a flat in London is not unreasonable for most MPs. Any net saving by means of paying an overnight allowance is minuscule – if any at all. Sums for furnishings and food and the way this is stretched and the way it is fiddled to spend on real first homes is wrong.

  42. That's News
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    I think the Fees Office will come under scrutiny, too…
    http://thatsnews.blogspot.com/2009/05/mistake-or-breach-of-security.html

  43. Sam Armstrong
    Posted May 19, 2009 at 1:09 am | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood,

    I still admire you and can see no wrong in what you have done. The bigger threat to democracy here is the obvious witchhunt against MPs, which will before long spread cancer-like a deep distrust of democracy into all the vital organs of the already wounded body politic. There are some vindictive comments above.

    However I think that the expenses scandal has merely been a device that suddenly released the pressure built up from years of discontent. Mainstream parties must start to listen to the people too, and address the issues they want addressing, including corruption, or we will end up with Neo Nazi or Communist fringe rulers if we are not careful.

  44. Adam Collyer
    Posted May 19, 2009 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    The Additional Costs Allowance was introduced in 1972. Perhaps it’s time to scrap it completely and simply increase members’ salaries to compensate? It would then be clear and above board, and there would be no argument about who claimed what. It would also save the considerable amounts of time and effort that members must spend claiming, and save costs at the fees office too. (Maybe too much to hope for that payroll reductions might take place there though….!)

  45. Freeborn John
    Posted May 19, 2009 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    When my own MP (Andrew MacKay) resigned as advisor to Cameron last week I thought of the difference between his behaviour and your refusal (as blogged about in the following post) last year to accept a free parking ticket from a constituent in Wokingham.

    http://www.johnredwoodsdiary.com/2008/03/24/moral-maze-2-what-would-you-do/

    So now I am greatly disappointed to read of this story in The Telegraph about your claims. There is clearly a difference between the MacKay claims and yours, and based on everything I have read on your blog in the last year or so, I am more prepared to give you the benefit of the doubt than my own MP but I do find it difficult to reconcile the behaviour of an MP using parliamentary allowances to the maximum who turns down a used parking ticket from a constituent.

    MPs make the law so do indeed have an obligation to follow the rules, and perhaps it is the case that you followed the expense claim rules to the letter here (perhaps not). But an MP is not capable of making good rules without a moral compass that should have been going haywire when claiming up to the maximum each year so i still have to feel disappointed.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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