Peter Hoskin

Tax-free troubles

Tax-free troubles
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And so it gets even messier. Today's Telegraph reports that HMRC are conducting formal investigations into the tax affairs of 27 MPs. You see, expenses claims are only supposed to be tax-free provided that they're wholly necessary for Parliamentary work. And, as we all know by now, quite a few of our, ahem, honourable members haven't been following that requirement - so they may owe some cash to Her Majesty's tax collectors. It probably won't be enough to fill the black hole in the public finances. But it's a start.

They'll be something deliciously perverse about this if any of those MPs investigated are also among those who claimed for tax advice at the taxpayers' expense. But, either way, this is yet another blow to Parliament's reputation - and one which threatens more blows in forthcoming months. Increasingly, you doubt that there'll be any sort of closure on this unedifying business before the next election.