Saturday, May 29, 2010

Laws is not an ass, nor a fraud

The Telegraph's battle against perceived expenses abuses by MPs is not only getting boring but it is proving damaging. It would be wrong if the latest witch-hunt, against David Laws, robbed the coalition Government and the country of one of the most capable politicians.

The charge is that Laws, the newly appointed Chief Secretary to the Treasury and one of those rare politicians who is respected by all sides of Parliament, defrauded the taxpayer by claiming up to £950 a month in rent to live in a property that is owned by a man who happens to be his lover.

Laws, who says that he had not told family and friends that he is gay, has thus been outed by a petty newspaper for the sin of paying taxpayers' money to his partner.

But what is wrong with that as long as he paid a fair market rate? In fact, Laws probably paid a lot less. I was paying £1,000 a month seven years ago for a one-bed flat in Greenwich, a lot farther from Parliament than Kennington. Laws around that time was paying his partner £750. You can find flats in Kennington for less than £950 a month, but why should MPs have to live in the scuzziest properties?

The fact is that MPs who do not have a London constituency were last year entitled to claim up to £2,000 a month in rent or mortgage relief. Laws, by claiming less than half that, has saved us all money. Shouldn't we be praising him? Sounds like the ideal quality in a man responsible for reducing the national deficit.

1 comment:

Angus Donald said...

Good, fair-minded post: I was expecting a gag about "rent boys" or some such. Well done, Patrick, we'll make a Lib Dem of you yet!