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

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones