There's something that I think has been missed in the storm over MPs' expenses. The expenses system for MPs exists to cover "expenses necessarily and wholly incurred in the course of their parliamentary duties" - that's why it pays for accommodation in the form of a second home allowance. Surely those Members who hold an office which entitles them to a grace-and-favour pad in London have been provided with the second home and therefore should not be claiming the allowance since that is not an expense necessarily and wholly incurred in the course of their parliamentary duties? To have claimed the second home allowance when the taxpayer is already providing them with a grace-and-favour residence would be fraud, surely.
So, whether or not someone reports them to Yates of the Yard, those with the right to occupy these properties should repay the money.
Gordon Brown should be repaying all the money he claimed against his second home allowance (ignoring the flip he made to transfer the allowance to his house in North Queensferry for now) over the past 12 and a half years when he had the right to use Downing Street. We don't have figures for the full period but the claims for the four years' from 2004/05 to 2007/08 come to £73,056.00
Alistair Darling moved into Downing Street when he became Chancellor, rented out his London flat, designated Downing Street as his main home and charged us for the upkeep of his Edinburgh family home. That came to £7,537 in 2007/08.
John Prescott had a flat in Admiralty House until the summer of 2007 but managed to claim second home allowance amounting to £43,720 in the three years before he moved out.
Michael Martin, the former speaker, who wasn't shy about spending public money on his grace-and-favour apartment, Speaker's House, also managed to claim £41,503 in second home allowance - presumably to pay for his Glasgow home wherein was his constituency office for which he charged us in spite of it not being in the constituency, or his "small flat in London".
Wrap up warm, now, and avoid this flu - it's a stonker, I lost a whole week, feeling roughly how I imagine a watermelon feels after being hit by a truck. Mind how you go!