Peter Hoskin

An expensive cabinet

An expensive cabinet
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Is any MP, save those frugal few, immune from expenses controversy?  After the revelations about Geoff Hoon's housing arrangements yesterday, the latest name to emerge is that of the Chancellor.  Sure, we at Coffee House have been quite warm towards Alistair Darling recently, for his struggle against Brown's worst excesses.  But this seems excessive in itself:

"Alistair Darling has claimed thousands of pounds in expenses on his family home while renting out his privately owned London flat and living in a grace-and-favour apartment in Downing Street, it was reported last night.

The Chancellor has on a number of occasions swapped the title of main home between his house in Edinburgh and his flat in London, reportedly enabling him to claim expenses for both dwellings while also earning rent from his South London flat."

Both Hoon and Darling are falling back on that familiar refrain - that "no rules were broken" - which, again, only shows that the rules need fixing, and quick.  But is the political will there to do so?  It's revealing, perhaps, that Gordon Brown last night stressed he's got more important issues to deal with...

UPDATE: And now Margaret Beckett is the latest Cabinet minister to get involved in the "three homes" row.