Just seen this story at Guido's, here.
The Mail on Sunday is reporting that Jacqui Smith has been making allowance claims for a second home in London, which actually belongs to her sister.
It is though the Home Secretary has claimed the maximum claim possible, £24,006 p.a totalling approx £116,000 in allowances against her house in Redditch, where her husband and family live. This is because the Home Secretary has stated that that this is her second property as her main residence is in London. However, as the London house is actually owned by her sister, this is a breach of parliamentary rules and is strictly forbidden as she is effectively lodging at a family members house.
Had the Home Secretary lived in one of the ministerial homes that are made available to ministers, the tax payer may also have been spared and further £200,000 in the cost of additional policing, from when she stays at her sister's property.
It is an astonishing that such a key member of the government could be taking so much money in expenses and be unaware that she was breaching the rules. Mrs Smith, and her finances should be fully investigated and the extent of any impropriety detailed before the House of Commons. And if the evidence confirms a breach of the rules, the necessary, and appropriate discipline should be enforced.
There will no doubt be focus on what role the Home Secretary had within the governments recent attempts to exempt MPs from the Freedom Of Information Act in respect to publishing receipts of expenses. The Government was keen that MPs expenses not be published in any detail. This is a most perfect example of exactly why such rules should never be allowed. Transparency is a necessity is an open democracy. Contempt for accountability, is contempt of the voters.
I look forward to seeing Jacqui Smith on television tomorrow. Undoubtedly this whole incident will not be her fault. I will not be holding my breath that an apology will be forthcoming either. New Labour don't really do resignations on breach of principles (or rules), so we can expect a long drawn out drama on this. One more nail in the coffin of the Labour Party.