Village People: London landlords cash in as MPs play by the rules

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Indy Politics

It is not the fashion to write anything on the subject of MPs' expenses which could be read as a defence of our elected members; still, here goes.

It is a year since Sir Christopher Kelly recognised that the job requires MPs from outside London to maintain two homes, but that they should not be allowed to buy a property, claim the mortage, then make a profit by selling it. New MPs have had to find somewhere to rent, a rule that will in time apply to all MPs, so ending what Sir Christopher called a "discredited" practice.

But some interesting figures were released this week by IPSA, the body that now supervises MPs' expenses, showing that in every month since the new rules came in, subsiding MPs' rents has cost more than subsidising their mortgages. In October, the average mortgage claim was £694.63, the average rent was £1,173.81.

Thus MPs have been collectively punished, taxpayers are the poorer by thousands of pounds a month, but London's landlords must be laughing.

Ed doffs his cap to the press

With tongue in cheek, Ed Miliband thanked the company at his first reception for journalists for all the endorsements he received during the Labour leadership election. He was actually endorsed by just three publications – the People, the New Statesman, and a blog called Caledonian Comment – none of which was represented that evening. To general relief, Mr Miliband promised not to take endorsements into account when deciding whether to grant interviews.

Not the way to make friends

Phil Woolas, the MP suspended for tactics he employed in the general election, has form when it comes to antagonising Liberal Democrats. Woolas won the seat through a by-election in 1995, against an opponent with liberal views on law and order, who was described in Woolas's campaign literature as "high on crime and soft on drugs".

It's a question of security

Security has been tightened in Ed Miliband's Commons office since two documents went astray and turned up in a newspaper. One covered economic policy; the other the strategy for handling Prime Minister's Questions.

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