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Mps Spend £3.6M Of Public Money Renting Offices From Own Parties

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MPs have spent more than £3.6m of public money renting offices from their own political parties, according to new figures released on Thursday.

More than 100 politicians including several cabinet ministers have leased their constituency base from a political organisation, which some have criticised as a hidden subsidy for mainstream parties.

The scale of the deals has been disclosed by parliament's expenses watchdog, which has announced a review of the payments to see if they need to be changed.

Privately, MPs have defended the payments as a way of ensuring that MPs and political parties have a strong presence in their constituencies. Some say that the alternative cost of renting private office space would increase the cost to the taxpayer.

Members of parliament are allowed to rent office space from their parties as long as they can provide an independent quote which will demonstrate that they are being charged a market rate.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) examined more than 721 office rental agreements used by MPs since 2010 and found that a third, or 244, were with political parties.

Tory MPs dominate the list of those who rent office space from parties, with 132 involved in claims. They include Michael Gove, the education secretary, the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, the international development secretary, Justine Greening, and the party's chairman, Grant Shapps.

A total of 65 Labour MPs have rented from their party, including Sadiq Khan and Stella Creasy.

Twenty-six Lib Dem MPs do the same, including the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, the chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, and the energy secretary, Ed Davey.

Ipsa's chair, Sir Ian Kennedy, said practice would be reviewed and invited input from members of the public.

"Many MPs hire offices for their staff to work in and in which to meet constituents. It is right that we support them to do so. But we also think it is in the public interest to publish where that money goes.

"We are reviewing the most appropriate ways to provide accommodation for MPs' offices, and will report back in the spring. We established the current rules after listening carefully to the public. I think it is only right that we ask the public what they think if we decide those rules need amendment," he said.

Jonathan Isaby, the political director of the centre-right pressure group the TaxPayers' Alliance, called for the payments to end.

"It's one thing if a local political party offers their MP and staff free use of a desk or an office, but quite another pcb board for it to be sending taxpayers an annual invoice for thousands of pounds. Often this is space that would not in any case be available to anyone else on commercial terms," he said.

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Do the associations who own the buildings pay tax on the income they receive as rent ?

Most crime is can be measured against the likelihood of the offender getting caught. Offenders will commit more crime if there is little chance that they will be caught or the penalty for the crime when caught will be only to remind them of the rules. They will say that "it's within the rules", because they also make the rules. The real problem lies with ourselves, we let them do it.

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