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Now we know why Dave and co didn't lay into Smith over her second home.

In the words of Sideshow Bob Terwilliger of the Simpsons, people need Conservatives like us to lower your taxes, brutalise criminals and protect you from wooly minded liberals

Oh Dear!

That doesn't look too 'clean' now does it.

So how is this different to Jacqui Smith?
A genuine question which must surely have a logical answer. Anyone?

As I've said before on Conservativehome - if you guys don't purge yourselves of every little bit of Old Tory Sleaze.......then how are you different to ZaNuLabour?

I speak as an ex-Labour supporter of 1997 - 1999.

Silent Hunter - http://politicalnewsblogs.com/

Where Comment really IS free.

Silent Hunter, the **** with a plan!

People in second houses shouldn't throw stones.

"So how is this different to Jacqui Smith?
A genuine question which must surely have a logical answer. Anyone"

1. Smith has a tax payer funded grace and favour home at her disposal which negates her need for a second home.

2. Smith is alleged to have lied over which is her main home and which is her second home.

"So how is this different to Jacqui Smith?"

It's his second home - and clearly so. She is spending second home money on what is blatantly her first home, and when she is entitled to a grace and favour home that has to be guarded anyway.

What a surprise that this surfaces in the Mirror, and that they find neighbours to say they never see him there. And of course the letterbox will be packed this week - Parliament is on recess, so he isn't there.

There is only one thing that gets me about his situation. Why does he need a second home when his main home is 17 miles away? that is just taking the p***

Agree entirely with Grayling's proposals re cautions.
However if the Sunday Mirror is correct his behaviour has been very poor indeed. This should certainly end his career as a shadow cabinet minister and an MP too.I hope that Grayling will quickly be able to prove that the Mirror is wrong.
Our parliamentary party must show we are better than them.

Josh can't remember you criticizing Jacqui Smith for her reprehensible behaviour.Does your anger only apply to Tories?

"This should certainly end his career as a shadow cabinet minister and an MP too"

Why? He's broken neither the letter nor the spirit of the law.


If Smith has done something wrong then she wants sacking and throwing out of the party and I would support that fully. I would like to redirect that question you asked me back to you now, if I may?

Surely you don't think it acceptable for anyone, Labour, Tory or otherwise to be claiming for a second home when their first home is only 17miles away?

Josh -

*plucked from Political Betting*

Gareth Thomas MP has a second home, and he lives in Harrow. Comment?

Malcolm, I think you're being a bit harsh there. He's entitled to claim money for a second home, which has has done. The fact that the Mirror can dig people up to say he's never there is really all we have on this story at the moment. It's not like with Smith, who is clearly lying about which home is which so she can fund her nice house in the country with our money.

It is wrong David. My comment just above yours is my honest opinion.

"So how is this different to Jacqui Smith?
A genuine question which must surely have a logical answer. Anyone"

1. Grayling has been reimbursed for the cost of a small London flat on which he owns the freehold, and which he claims is his secondary residence. That doesn't sound unreasonable when all London costs are taken into account. His main residence (which he pays for himself) is a large house in Surrey, but his flat is only a one bedroom flat. He is rarely seen there, but (duh!) it is his second residence and his main residence is 16 miles away, so this is not surprising.

2. Smith claims that her secondary residence (on which she claims an allowance) is a large house in the Midlands where her family live. She says her primary residence (which she pays for herself) is a lodging with her sister, where it would appear her family never stays, and probably could never stay.

The Mirror is trult the paper of the moron. Anybody with a scrap of intelligence would see what a pathetic story this is, all got up with typical anti-Conservative invective, but then only morons read the Mirror.

I think we should have expected renewed allegations about Tory sleaze now that the Labour Party has had the time to digest the significance of its position in the latest opinion polls. This government is not going to go down without a fight and all the evidence suggests that it will be a very dirty and ugly fight. We should get used to that idea and deal with it while staying focussed on the real job in hand which is planning what will need to be done to get the country back in shape when there is a Tory government again. I find it quite encouraging that even the Mirror hasn't found any new Tory dirt to dig up. These accusations against Grayling and Ashcroft have been made many times before and even the tireless Kevin Maguire hasn't yet been able to make them stick.

Wondered when some paper would do something like this, Conservatives were too quiet on Smith.

Whoever is in charge of PR needs their ass kicking. This could've all been avoided ... but no, same old sitting on the fence and hoping no-one will notice.

I truly resent sleaze accusation conflation.
Archer and Hamilton were the height of Tory sleaze. And rightly pinged for it. Aitken was sleaze for lying about something he was not guilty of, gross stupidity but lie to Parliament and away you go,
Besides that Tory sleaze was personal affairs and marital cheating. I am against this , if only purely on the grounds if you lie to me your supposedly best friend, what the hell are you doing elsewhere?
Now true sleaze, graft and corruption, New Labour are a different beast altogether, from Formula One Fag advertising to Tessa Jowell's husband, its is sheer cash for favours, Hamilton was an amateur compared to this lot. From Livingstone's friends to Mandelsohn's houses, this is cash for me me me. Thieves and corrupters of the public ethos to the hilt.

It is wrong. He must be dealt with firmly and quickly. No voter wants to see this sort of thing. Everybody knows there's no way to justify it. If he lives 17 miles away he does NOT need a second home. It's rotten. I'd like to see him removed from the cabinet immediately. It'll send a message to all sides of the house.


Derek Conway and Caroline Spelman. Need I say anything else?

Conway, people climbed in. Not good way to play, but I felt and still do the start of an opening up so no point of scapegoating, but start a new procedural regime. Spelman, I felt long out of of hand, and no real distortion..
However what is really trenchant now is this: Internet means blogs means immediate rumours means swift rebuttal.
To me take the ability of walloping expenses away from MPs and put all expense claiming through a central Parliamentary Body that professionally exercises the rules. At present, what does an MP do, do my business and do his business, well I want him just to do my business. Why does this silly complex and complicated regime persist? It does neither Parliament nor the Electorate any favours.
In a commercial company do you leave all claims to the discretion of the employees and check 10% of them? I don't think so.

Conway was quite rightly dealt with. Don't really see ghastly Gorodon and his gang of drones doing anything but trying to cling onto power they do not deserve.

Cornered wounded animals can be very nasty indeed. Look at the snarls on the faces of folk such as Balls and Mandelson. Brown would snarl too but all his efforts are devoted to switching that horrible false smile on and off.

Grayling hasn't broken either the letter or the spirit of the rules. The rules say he qualifies for the secondary home allowance. It is used on a flat which is clearly his second home and also the cheapest to maintain (in comparison to his main residence). There are absolutely loads of MPs whose constituencies are close to London and qualify for the second home allowance. I'd prefer the rules were changed to promote more stays in hotels for these 'in between' MPs but why should MPs or anyone for that matter abide by rules that don't exist. What's next imaginary road signs? This is just another case of Labour and supporters demanding the Tories meet a higher standard than they do (even though they regularly fail to live by the basic rules).

More hysteria here than substance methinks. Grayling's flat is certainly a second home as he has sole occupancy and has to pay his own bills and upkeep whereas Ms Smith staying in her sister's spare room is in a a different league of immoral bending of rules for personal gain.

Any Londoner would tell you that if they had the option of staying close to work rather than spend hours in commuter hell they would choose the former. 17 miles doesn't sound like a great geographical distance but with the state of our public transport could be the most horrendous journey.

I can't recall whether there is a specified cut-off point in terms of how far an MP has to travel home from parliament to be able to claim for a second home and suspect there isn't oone.

Josh- 'If Smith has done something wrong....' If ! If!!!.My God.Are you just naive or do you have terrific double standards? There is very little doubt at all that Smith -has behaved reprehensibly to feather her own nest. As has Hain, Harman, Wendy Alexander and a host of Labour peers.Labour is up to its neck in sleaze.
I hope Grayling is able to refute the Mirror's allegations but if he can't he will certainly fail the public opinion test of what it is reasonable to claim expenses on. I'm sorry that several posters have chosen to defend that behaviour.

An MPs job is representing their constituents in Parliament, scrutinising legislaion, voting for or against it, developing policy etc.

Their "main" job is therefore in London and they should be paid a commensurate wage so they can have their "main" home in London.

The secondary part of their job is to be available to their constituents and to visit people and businesses in their constituencies.

The logical conslusion of this is that they need a small, seond home in their constituencies, the rent, for which should be covered by an allowance based on the actual cost of renting a one bedroom flat in their constituency, together with re-imbursement of costs when they are there, proved by receipts.

If MPs choose to reverse the arrangement in practice, that should be their choice, but their allowances will not change.

If this system were adopted it would not only mirror what is the usual practice for both public and private sector workers who have "two-centre" jobs, but it would be transparent and fair. on the public purse and on the MP.

It would also account for those MPs with constituenices in or close to London as they would have the option of how they used the allowance and the higher allowance for the cost of the constituency home might encourage them to "pool" this to fund a single home.

We really do have to remember that MPs have a job which involves long hours when they are at Westminster, travel, often of several hours, time away from "home" and in addition to their job as an MP, party political work as well.

The picture painted of lazy MPs working 4 days a week 30 weeks of the year who spend most of their time working out how to line their own pockets at our expense is wrong and very, very damaging of our democracy.

The pay, pension, expenses and allowances regime absolutely needs to change, but it needs to recognise these facts if talented people are to be willing to give up what could well be much better paid private careers to serve as MPs.

Clearly the Mirror has no idea about London/Surrey geography or South East public transport. Either that or they are banking on their readers having no idea.

Late at night after a debate or doing some political engagement the idea of walkng over to Waterloo and getting a train to Epsom and then maybe a cab or a lift from the wife from the station at 12.30am or 1am does not sound attractive. It would probably involve a door-to-door journey of 1.5 hours.

A black cab would cost about £80 and still involve a 40 minute journey.

I only live about 7 miles from central London in Ealing but I always leave an hour to get from here to the West End door-to-door.

Having a second home is one thing, it helps get the job done. Calling a room in your sister's house your main residence is just plain lying.

The Mirror has nothing.

Linda Perham, Labour MP for Ilford North 1997-05 (a Greater London constituency on the Central Line) lived a few yards away from a Tube Station during her time at Westminster.

Nevertheless, she purchased a flat in Central London and claimed full expenses on it. This may have irritated her constituents, many of whom are commuters, but it was neither illegal nor inherently sleazy. She said that she needed accommodation close to Westminster for times that she either had to work late or start early.

It should be noted that Ilford North is closer to Westminster than Epsom, but anyone who is familiar with London's road traffic and the vagaries of its rail service, might be sympathetic to Mr Grayling.

I do not recall the Sunday Mirror alleging that Mrs Perham had done anything wrong.

The Conservative's new slogan:
Sharing the proceeds of sleaze....

It is nice to see Josh, and others ghost-written by Draper, sticking to the thread topic: "Grayling promises to end police's reliance on cautions for violent offences", isn't it?

Do you like the idea or do you not? It might be popular so you try to distract the public instead.

If the facts are as stated above, Chris Grayling would appear to be completely in the clear; he is fully entitled to have a pied-a-terre in London and therefore to claim the appropriate expenses for it. It is clear that this is his second home, not his principal private residence. Jacqui Smith appears to be the opposite.

Josh is correct when he claims that the rules should apply equally irrespective of party but it would seem on the face of it that Grayling is in the right and Smith in the wrong.

Either way, I suggested a different approach yesterday:

"At the very least, we could come up with an expenses code which would grace any ethically-run business of similar size, to be introduced once in power, and publicise it in the run-up to the next election".

I agree with Grumpy Old Man (possibly because I am one myself). My accountant wife and I totally fail to understand why MPs do not claim expenses in the same way that obtains in any properly run business or accountant's office. If you incur a legitimate business expense, you obtain a receipt and are reimbursed at cost once it has been approved for payment. Secretarial or researchers' salaries should not be paid by the MP out of his/her allowances but either by the constituency or by the HoD on a proper contractual basis.
For out of London MPs, a person's home, as accepted by HMRC, should be the principal residence and claims for rent or the cost of temporary accommodation in London should again be payable only when they have been approved. There should be no round figure allowances".

Malcolm Dunn,

You seem to have the blinkers on sir. Let me rephrase. When it is proven that Smith has done something wrong then she should be sacked and thrown out of the party. Similarly if Grayling has done something wrong then the same should count. Remember Mr Cameron said only a few months ago that he wanted HIS (haha) MP's to follow the spirit of the law as well as the letter of the law. This incident does not seem to be following with what he wants. However, he wont do anything about it because the last time he attempted to LEAD his party people threatened to resign.Remember, WH said he would resign if he couldn't earn his vast amounts with his outside interests. I am afraid that is not leadership that is being a little mouse.

I have just been watching the hapless Jacqui Smith trying to defend the indefensible on Marr's show. I wonder how old her children are and whether she ever sees them. I wonder what rent she pays her sister and what her sister puts on her tax return.

We will never know but what I do know is that the equally uninspiring Mr & Mrs Balls claim their expenses the other way round. Maybe at what is known in the trade as the Department for Clothes and Soft Furnishings they only work school terms.

"We will never know but what I do know is that the equally uninspiring Mr & Mrs Balls claim their expenses" Isn't it time for their tax returns to be made public, of course tax returns are only the tip of the iceberg of sleaze. My experience is probably pretty typical. On being given my first company credit card and expense account I was told "just don't take the piss", of course I didn't, but many did. All sorts of classic excuses were used to justify putting it on the account. Labour had its John Lewis list, we had our WH smith list, books for the train journey. Not funny really but if your were out of the office almost anything could, and mostly was claimed for. Is it any wonder the nation is in trouble?

"If you are found carrying a knife, if you attack a stranger in the street, you should end up in the courts and then behind bars. You should not get a caution, or as I heard recently, a £65 penalty notice for carrying a three foot Samurai sword around. That must stop."

Of course we must allow the magistrates some room for leniency for the cooperative first offender. However, that should not mean a caution or a small fine. Carrying a knife should result in probation a large fine and/ or community service for a first offence. Using a knife or threatening to use a knife should always be punished with a prison sentence. Only by getting really tough with criminals and knife crime will we have any chance of reversing the fashionable status of carrying a weapon. In addition we need a publicity blitz with the help of celebrities that kids respect. This and a few high profile examples being made, will do more good than any amount of softly softly policing.

Of course if we are going to get tough on knife crime we will need extra prison places and not be afraid to use them. I believe we should privatise the open prisons, to make available extra money to build state of the art medium and high security prisons in our first term.



Four stars for my post! :o) Thanks mate. I knew it was good but really, you spoil me. LOL

The 2 Dave's : Ok so could you explain why he needs a second home (at taxpayers expense) when his 'other' home is only 17 miles away..........I commute more than twice that distance every day.

Maybe if I could get the taxpayer to stump up for a flat, "where I'm seldom seen" I could make a killing when I sold it.

I'm sure that he hasn't broken the 'letter' of the law, but then apparently neither has JacquiBootSmith. But then again, it's NOT about the 'letter'....it's about the 'spirit', wouldn't you say?

BTW I absolutely abhor ZaNuLabour and I have taken the trouble to protest to the Commissioner of Parliamentary Standards about Jacqui Smiths expenses. How many of you guys have done the same?

Sorry! Am I asking too many difficult questions here? ;o)

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