Sunday, 29 November 2009

More Westminster Party Corruption: Second Standards Committee Member May Quit

Parliamentary Standards Committee member and Labour MP Andrew Dismore may soon be following the example set by Tory MP David Curry and quit that committee in the wake of new disclosures about his “expenses.”

Mr Dismore has been placed under a cloud after it was revealed that he claimed £34,000 for a west London flat as his second home — even though his actual house is only eleven miles from Westminster. Shortly afterwards, he flipped the second home designation to his north London house and then claimed an extra £31,000 for that residence on his parliamentary expenses. To make matters worse, one of the properties actually houses a homoeopathy clinic run by his girlfriend, Linda Julian.

All in all, Mr Dinsmore’s “nice little earner” brought him an extra £65,000 on top of his parliamentary salary, courtesy of the taxpayer. Mr Dismore, who not surprisingly is also the chairman of parliament’s joint committee on human rights, also appears to be a seriously frenetic driver who spends an inordinate amount of time in his car. In fact, his expense claims for travel are so high it is incredible to think how he even finds time to attend parliament at all.

During the 2007/08 financial year, Mr Dismore claimed enough in travel allowances to be able to drive back and forth between his north London house and parliament three times every day. MPs can claim 40 pence per mile for travelling to and from Westminster and around their constituencies. Mr Dismore claimed £2,144 in mileage allowances which means that he drove 5,360 miles that year between Westminster and his home. This is interesting because the Commons only sat that year on 145 days. Since 2001, Mr Dismore has claimed more than £30,000 in travel allowances over and above his ordinary salary.

* Meanwhile, health minister Ann Keen has been exposed as claiming £12,000 over a four-year period to set up a workplace at home — despite already having no less than three other offices from which she supposedly worked.

Mrs Keen and her husband, fellow Labour MP Alan Keen, claimed over £140,000 for a flat on the banks of the Thames despite their main home being less than ten miles away.

Tom Linden.

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