MPs face expenses claim ban on 'renting and letting'

Ipsa aims to close loophole allowing MPs to get expenses for both mortgages and rent

MPs could be banned from claiming expenses for renting a home
while renting out another property they bought with the help of
their parliamentary allowances.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), which runs the MPs' expenses system, is considering the rule change.

After it emerged that more than 30 MPs were "renting and letting", Sir Christopher Kelly, head of the anti-sleaze watchdog, called for the loophole to be closed. He told The Independent: "There is no rule saying they can't do it. But people should not be fixated by rules. We want people taking responsibility for making judgments about what is right and not right."

The chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life added: "It would clearly be wrong if an MP had bought a house to claim mortgage interest at public expense and then rent it out, rent another house and claim the cost of that. Wheth-er the rules say it is allowable or not, it is wrong in principle.

"A very good principle is if you can't explain it in terms readily understood by the public, that is a very strong argument for not doing it."

The committee helped to design the new system brought in after the 2009 expenses scandal, which ended the MPs' ability to claim up to £1,250 a month for mortgage interest from August this year, forcing them to claim for rent or hotels instead if they vacated their homes.

Sir Christopher described "renting and letting" as a "transitional problem". He confirmed that Ipsa was "looking at the issue" and said he would be surprised if the current rules were not changed.

Yesterday, Ipsa said it could not stop MPs renting out a property they own but admitted there was public concern about a small number of cases in which MPs rented to other MPs, and raised the prospect that this practice could be banned. In a report on MPs' allowances, Ipsa said: "We cannot say an MP should not own a property or properties, or restrict what they do with those properties on the open market. The risk, as perceived by some, is if the tenant is another MP, funded by the taxpayer, a rent above the normal rate might be agreed."

Ipsa added: "Despite the limited number of MPs renting from other MPs and the low risk to the taxpayer, there is sufficient public concern to merit a consideration of whether we should prevent such arrangements in future. Prevention would need to focus on the tenant MP, rather than the property owner, over whom Ipsa has no influence."

Options include a new rule to restrict MPs from renting from other MPs or having to make a public declaration if they rent from another MP which would also name their landlord.

Although Ipsa released the details of most member's living arrangements, some 51 MPs were allowed to keep the name of their landlord secret on security grounds.

Details had been removed where an MP or landlord had shown the information could lead to their address being identified.

An Ipsa spokesman said 85 per cent of MPs had their landlords named, but added: "We need to consider in each case if there are any security issues. We take that as seriously as we can."

Commons Speaker John Bercow hasd earlier written to Ipsa claiming there was a "very real danger" that residential addresses could be discovered as a result of the details being released.

'What we want is people making judgements about what is right and wrong' sir christopher kelly

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
i100

Other places that have held independence referendums
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
news

Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'
film

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur
film

It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959

News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's starring part
Extras
10 best table lamps
indybest
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager (technical, applications, infrastructure)

£55000 - £60000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: IT Proj...

English Teacher (Bristol and South Gloucestershire)

Negotiable: Randstad Education Bristol: English teachers for day to day cover,...

Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: Year 6 Teacher RequiredThis teaching...

SharePoint Administrator - Bishop's Stortford / Stansted

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: SharePoint Administrator - Bishop's ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week