10 May 2009

Margaret Moran

An M.P. is supposed to spend time in the constituency she represents, and also in Parliament. Margaret Moran represents Luton South.

Now, it is perfectly possible to live in Luton South and work in Central London - I know, because I've done it for over a decade. I've spent 2 hours a day, five days a week on a train for that time, costing me getting on for four thousand pounds a year at today's prices. Note that this is not considered a legitimate expense, so I have to pay income tax on the money I spend traveling.

So I'm a little bit miffed that my MP gets the maintenance of her second home in London counted as a legitimate expense that she doesn't have to pay tax on. More than that, since the expense is paid by her employer, the state, she not only doesn't pay tax on it, she doesn't pay at all.

Now, a bunch of people have been complaining about all this for a while. Good luck to them, but in my merely "miffed" state, I haven't bothered to join in.

After all, there is one small difference between me and my MP. I chose to live 20 miles from my place of work, her role as an MP means she more or less needs to. So there is some thin kind of argument about her 2-location life being more of a necessary expense than mine. Irritating, but not worth making a huge fuss about.

And now details have been published, it emerges she claimed GBP22,500 for dry rot treatment for her second home.

In Southampton.

OK, now I am no longer miffed.
(For the geographically challenged, Southampton is 80 miles from Westminster, and 94 from Luton)

There is a video of her making pathetic justifications on the BBC. Again, the reason why my employer is not allowed to pay my train fare, even if it wanted to, is because I do not have to live such a distance from my office. There are all sorts of good reasons why I choose to do so, but at the end of the day, I have to pay the fare out of my taxed income because it's my lifestyle choice.

Moran says that it is essential for her to have three properties because her partner lives in Southampton. Well, guess what. My wife lives in Luton, but that doesn't mean I can claim the costs of being based in Luton and London as a business expense. It was her choice to come to Luton to run for Parliament, and it is her choice to have a partner who won't move from Southampton, and reasonable as those choices may be, they are her choices to spend her own money on.

(There was a time when candidates who came to an area in order to stand were frowned upon. I don't think that's important - the "local" element of M.P. work is not sensible - but if candidates do want to move from their homes to another area where they think they'll get elected, they can do so at their own expense.)

No comments: