Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Smart move by Nick Clegg on second homes

Just read on LDV quoting a Sam Coates story in The Times that Nick Clegg is going to propose that the capital gains from second home sales revert to the public purse when the properties are sold. He also wants to make sure that they cannot claim at all for mortgage interest payments, only rent.

Whilst there will doubtless be practical complications, I think these are great ideas in principle and they chime with what I have said in the past about needing to make sure that MPs do not benefit from the capital gains as they do at the moment.

Clegg also wants an end to the ability to claim for things like flat screen TVs and furniture and only be able to claim for utilities and council tax.

As Guido suggests, MPs are likely to be horriried by these proposals but something has to be done to restore public trust and Nick Clegg's proposals are exactly the sort of radical reform that is needed to do this.

It will be interesting to see how Gordon Brown and David Cameron respond to this smart move by Clegg.


Tom F said...

I can't agree that this is a smart move.

Mr Clegg's suggested solution would appear to demonstrate that he knows little about economics and even less about human nature.

What is the point of suggesting that MPs might repay their capital gains? Apart from being totally illogical it simply will not happen in a million years!

MPs will not be horrified - they will simply laugh at the proposal. At best it makes him look naïve.

This suggestion is a waste of time it does not even deserve to be discussed in case it diverts attention from the reforms that are urgently required and need to be in place in time for the next election.

It would perhaps be amusing if Mr Clegg himself was not so close to the very top of the MPs with dodgy expenses list.

He really needs to come up with a proper list of realistic changes.

Mark Thompson said...

Hello Tom.

I must admit I am confused about your response here.

You say it is totally illogical. I cannot see anything illogical about changing the rules to make sure that allowances that are supposed to help an MP do their job properly cannot subsequently be turned into huge capital gains for them. Instead they will need to repay some, perhaps most of the allowance back upon sale of the property. You might not agree it is the best way to proceed but why is it illogical?

You say it won't happen in a million years. I am not sure if you are saying that MPs will not comply with the system, or if they will not allow it to come in in the first place. If it is the former then I am sure they will comply. As long as the rules/laws are drafted well there is no reason to think they will be able to avoid it. If it is the latter then I think you underestimate the feeling in the country about this issue. People I know who are not interested in politics are furious about this and if MPs refuse to engage with serious reform then they are ultimately risking their seats. Incumbents are going to be in a weak position at the next election and they need to have signed up to reform if they are not going to suffer death by 1000 expense claims.

As for Clegg's own expenses, well I am not going to defend his or any other MP's expenses. The system needs to be completely changed but someone has to lead this and I am pleased that Clegg has stepped up.