Two Labour MPs renting ‘secret’ homes

Published on 2 November 2019 by BrickTop

Filed under News, Politicians

Last modified 19 October 2020

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Two Labour MPs who kept details of their taxpayer-funded homes secret for ‘security reasons’ are renting them from ex-politicians, it can be revealed today. Debbie Abrahams and Julie Elliott claim thousands of pounds in expenses to rent London flats which were bought by former Labour MPs with the help of the taxpayer. They are among 51 MPs who, backed by Commons Speaker John Bercow, argued for their landlords’ names to be censored. The rental arrangements have been cleared by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa). But revelations that former MPs are profiting from the expenses system have provoked public disquiet. Today’s revelations will fuel concerns that some MPs demanded secrecy to avoid embarrassment. Last night there were fresh calls for an end to the cover-up. Sir Alistair Graham, former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said the full list of landlords’ details should now be released. He said: ‘I cannot understand why MPs and the Speaker have got locked into this position given the depth of public concern about expenses over a long period. ‘I would urge them to reconsider and publish. The best way to rebuild public trust is to be open so that people can be satisfied that all expenses being claimed by MPs are necessary to perform their public duties.’

Labour MP Debbie Abraham claim thousands of pounds in expenses.

Matthew Sinclair, of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, added: ‘People living in constituencies where MPs have had these details redacted will wonder what they have to hide. It goes against the transparency and openness that should be paramount.’ The Mail has established that Mrs Elliott, MP for Sunderland Central, rents her flat from former Labour minister Chris Mullin, while Mrs Abrahams, MP for Oldham East, rents hers from ex-MP Christine McCafferty. Mr Mullin and Mrs McCafferty, who bought their homes with the help of the taxpayer while serving as MPs, each now make thousands of pounds a year by renting them out. Mr Mullin boasted during the 2009 expenses scandal that he only used a 30-year-old black and white TV.  In an article he penned at the time, he said: ‘I do not seek to minimise the seriousness of what has occurred regarding MPs’ allowances. I am – and have been from the outset – unequivocally in favour of transparency, however painful. As one of my colleagues remarked the other day, “we had it coming”.’  Records now show his flat is rented by Mrs Elliott at a cost to the taxpayer of £15,813.26 a year, at a monthly rent of £1,317.77. Mrs Elliott ignored calls by the Mail to her Commons office, but a worker in her constituency confirmed she lived in Mr Mullin’s flat. Mr Mullin ignored requests to comment. Former MP Christine McCafferty lost her seat in 2010 and now rents her London flat to Mrs Abrahams.

Labour MP Julie Elliott claim thousands of pounds in expenses.

Records show that Mrs Abrahams claims £19,895.41 from the taxpayer to pay her monthly rent of £1,657.95. The taxpayer also provided her with a £1,400 deposit for her to secure the property. Mrs Abrahams is parliamentary private secretary to Labour health spokesman Andy Burnham – who has also been revealed to be renting out his London flat.A spokesman for Mrs Abrahams would only say: ‘Debbie is in favour of complete transparency and supports Ipsa’s role as the independent regulator for such matters.’ Mrs McCafferty was unavailable for comment, but her husband said: ‘What is the problem? The Duke of Kent owns lots of properties in London.’ When it was pointed out that the taxpayer had funded their London home he replied: ‘We put some money into the house. Why does the media want to portray MPs in a bad way?’ Details of the landlords used by 269 MPs were released by Ipsa this week. The publication revealed that eight MPs were renting from serving or former colleagues. Mr Bercow tried to block the release of the information, saying it was causing MPs ‘unwarranted damage and distress’. He argued the information might make it possible to identify MPs’ addresses. Ipsa agreed to withhold details for MPs who claimed that releasing their landlords’ details could reveal their home addresses.