Thursday, May 14, 2009

Daily Telegraph puts Shahid Malik in the frame - and exposes Hazel Blears

Tomorrow's Daily Telegraph turns its attention to the justice minister Shahid Malik.

As with all these expenses reports, it is hard to judge its truth or fairness until their had been wider debate. But one fact strikes me.

The Telegraph says:
Since being elected in 2005, Mr Malik has claimed the maximum amount allowable for a second home, amounting to £66,827 over three years. Last year, he claimed £23,083 from the taxpayer for his London town house, equivalent to £443 per week. The Telegraph can disclose that the “main home” for which Mr Malik pays out of his own pocket - a three-bedroom house in his constituency of Dewsbury, West Yorks - has been secured at a discounted rent of less than £100 per week from a local landlord who was fined for letting an “uninhabitable” house.
What did Hazel Blears say the other day while waving that £13,000 cheque in our faces?
Challenged over why she "flipped" the designation of her second home, Blears said she was "forced" to name her constituency address as her second home by Commons officials: "The only reason that my Salford home was designated my second home was at the insistence of the fees office, who said that when you become a minister you live in London."
But it is clear from Shahid Malik's case that ministers can have their main residence outside London if they choose. So it looks as though Hazel was not telling the truth.


dreamingspire said...

Or that the advice of the fees office was flexible... Remember that credit card advertising: "Your flexible friend"?

James said...

At the risk of defending the indefensible it looks like the rules changed in 2004 so when Blears became a minister in 2003 the rule was in force but by the time Malik became one the rule no longer applied.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Hazel Blears out of control?