MPs hired ex-minister's husband for tax advice

An MP's husband provided personal tax advice to at least five Labour MPs - including Foreign Secretary David Miliband - paid for by parliamentary expenses, it emerged today.

Dennis Bates, who is married to former Foreign Office minister Meg Munn, received more than £5,000 of taxpayers' money from the MPs over several years, according to leaked documents seen by the Daily Telegraph.



Four of the MPs named, including Foreign Office minister Gillian Merron (Lincoln), last night defended the claims, made under the parliamentary office allowance system.



They insisted that claiming for tax advice was allowed by the Green Book, which sets out the rules of the expense system, and that Mr Bates was "eminently qualified" to provide it.



Mr Bates is also paid from the public purse as parliamentary assistant to Sheffield Heeley MP Ms Munn, who worked alongside Mr Miliband and Ms Merron in the Foreign Office until last year.



The other MPs to whom he gave advice were local government minister John Healey (Wentworth), schools minister Jim Knight (Dorset South), and Sheffield Hillsborough MP Angela Smith.



All the receipts were identical and ministers were asked to send cheques to the couple's home address. In 2006/07 the ministers were each charged £345 for "professional services in connection with your personal tax affairs". Mr Healey claimed expenses on half of the fee, which he said related to advice for his office costs.



In a statement, Ms Merron, Mr Healey, Mr Knight and Ms Smith said: "Dennis Bates worked for 12 years for the Inland Revenue, specialising in the tax affairs of small businesses and is eminently qualified to provide advice to make sure Members of Parliament are properly meeting all their tax liabilities in relation to their office costs and allowances.



"The Green Book which sets out the rules and advice on behalf of the Parliamentary Authorities states specifically that professional advice, for example on tax and legal matters, is an allowable expense.



"Many MPs rightly seek professional assistance and advice where this relates specifically to their role as Members of Parliament and the expense is therefore legitimate and justifiable. The purpose of this is to ensure all tax liabilities connected with parliamentary duties are properly dealt with."



The report came a day after the Telegraph printed details of nine Cabinet ministers - including Chancellor Alistair Darling, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and Communities Secretary Hazel Blears - who between them spent more than £11,000 on accountants from the office allowance, which is available to MPs on top of their second homes allowance.



But the ministers insisted that the accountancy bills were in relation to their work as MPs and that the claims were allowable under the Commons rules.



Meanwhile, the allowances of embattled Tory MP Julie Kirkbride were once again in the spotlight, after it emerged that her brother bought around £1,000 of electrical equipment using her parliamentary office expense account.



Among the items purchased by Ian Kirkbride was a digital camera, even though his sister had bought another camera on expenses the previous year, reported the Daily Telegraph.



Ms Kirkbride is the wife of Andrew MacKay, who was sacked as David Cameron's aide after it emerged he had claimed second home expenses of £23,000 a year on his London address despite not having a property in his Bracknell constituency. He later announced he would step down as an MP at the next election.



The couple were living at an address in Ms Kirkbride's Bromsgrove constituency which was listed as her second home and his main residence for expenses purposes. However, Ms Kirkbride has resisted pressure to follow her husband's lead and stand down, as she insists she has done nothing wrong.



Responding to the new allegations last night, she told the Press Association: "My brother had the time to source things on the internet at the cheapest price.



"All the things that were bought were entirely in relation to my parliamentary duties."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
politicsIs David Cameron trying to prove he's down with the kids?
News
Dominique Alderweireld, also known as Dodo de Saumure, is the owner of a string of brothels in Belgium
newsPhilip Sweeney gets the inside track on France's trial of the year
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
people
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Tom DeLonge, Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 pictured in 2011.
musicBassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker say Tom Delonge is 'disrespectful and ungrateful'
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'
tvBroadchurch series 2, episode 4, review - contains spoilers
Sport
cyclingDisgraced cycling star says people will soon forgive his actions
News
Britain's Prince Philip attends a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in London
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran will play three sell-out gigs at Wembley Stadium in July
music
News
i100
News
Lena Dunham posing for an official portrait at Sundance 2015
people
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
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

Recruitment Genius: Project Engineer

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager - Civil Engineering

£35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Business: This company is going thro...

Tradewind Recruitment: KS1 & KS2 Teachers Required

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind Recruitment are currently working...

Recruitment Genius: Lift Repairs Sales Account Manager

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting new opportunity has...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea