Halifax MP Linda Riordan has reportedly been renting out her London flat for close to £1,500 per month and at the same time claiming a similar amount from the taxpayer to rent somewhere herself.
As far as I can tell this is not against the rules but it looks pretty dreadful. I would have thought all MPs would have conducted a thorough review of their affairs after the expenses scandal in 2009. It was a chance to recognise that even when things are "within the rules" they can still be wrong.
I am not sure if the flat she is renting out was paid for with any public money but given the rules before the scandal it would seem this is possible. It is far from clear to me why an MP should be able to claim rent for a property if they have one themselves nearby. Or at the very least, the income from the flat she is renting out should go towards paying for her living expenses to balance things out if for instance her tenant has a long term lease.
What is also interesting here is how quiet Linda has been since John Bercow announced that the details will not be released. Contrast this with her comments in 2009:
Published expenses on my website in the spirit of openness, contrary to what's been reported in Courier, I'm not avoiding publication at all
— Linda Riordan MP (@Linda_Riordan) May 19, 2009
Not this time she hasn't. And this:
I totally accept the interim measures announced by Speaker Martinto limit what MPs can claim. We need root and branch reform andquickly
— Linda Riordan MP (@Linda_Riordan) May 20, 2009
When the rules were reformed but she was able to carry on renting out and claiming for rent, did she not think perhaps the reforms needed to go further? Did she speak out about it or lobby her parliamentary colleagues to highlight the anomaly she was taking advantage of?